New estimates of the recoverable amount of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation has put the volume 50 percent higher than previous estimates, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Business Times.
The latest estimates released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that there is approximately 64.9 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves trapped in the layers of shale. The projection is part of the agency’s annual report on proven crude oil and natural gas reserves.
Proven reserves are the approximated volumes of hydrocarbon resources that can be reasonably determined to be recoverable under current economic conditions after analyzing geologic and engineering data. Reserve estimates typically change from year to year when new discoveries are made, existing fields are more closely assessed, current reserves are produced, and as market prices and technologies change.
The latest estimates are based on 2013 data. According to the EIA, rising natural gas prices in 2012 led to an overall increase in proven reserves. Total gas reserves for the formation are now at an estimated 354 trillion cubic feet with the formations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia accounting for about 70 percent of the increase.
The latest estimates come around the same time the science journal Nature cast doubts on the total amount of gas reserves, which projects that production will reach its peak in 2020. But, as reported by Sam Kusic, Penn State geoscientist Terry Engelder said that the projection is based on current market prices. When prices aren’t taken into account, he continued, the Marcellus Shale formation likely contains roughly 480 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.
To read the full report from the Pittsburgh Business Times, click here.