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Page added on August 26, 2011

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New USGS Marcellus Shale anaylsis drastically cuts DOE estimates


This week the USGS released a new assessment of gas resources in the Marcellus Shale, Appalachian Basin. The report is a reasonable effort by the USGS to sort out some of the wheat from the chaff. The 84 Tcf technically recoverable undiscovered resource for the Marcellus is a considerable downgrade from the 262 Tcf technically recoverable resource reported by NETL of the DOE in 2009. Others have been using numbers for the Marcellus in the mid-400’s of Tcf – see for example Engelder (2009) who claims the Marcellus has 489 Tcf of P50 technically recoverable resources.

This number fits with that of Powers, who was citing about 60 Tcf. 84 Tcf, which of course, is less than four years of US consumption. And the question is – how long would it take to produce it??? – and at what environmental costs??? As with all USGS estimates this is a probabilistic estimate, with 84 Tcf being a P50 estimate (ie. a 50% chance of having at least 84 Tcf). The P95 number is 43 Tcf (ie. a 95% chance of having at least 43 Tcf). So, as always with undiscovered resource estimates, roll the dice and take your chances – ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY?

I welcome this from the USGS as it puts a bit more rigor into the hype on the Marcellus and radically reduces some of the numbers floating around – a good effort with a generous amount of CYA factored in by the USGS given its probabilistic, undiscovered, nature.

See NYT article Geologists Sharply Cut Estimate of Shale Gas
See also David Hughes’ report Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?

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3 Comments on "New USGS Marcellus Shale anaylsis drastically cuts DOE estimates"

  1. pike on Sat, 27th Aug 2011 6:18 am 

    A great article.

  2. BillT on Sat, 27th Aug 2011 12:29 pm 

    Finally! Some realistic numbers. The “pie in the sky” propaganda is finally getting debunked. Facts are never what you are expecting.
    These are what I have gleaned from my many readings…
    There is less than 5 years worth of oil left to find and pump in the 50 states and off shore.

    Natural gas may be 10-15 years worth at best, but probably less.

    Shale oil is never going to come close to predicted levels because of natural and energy constraints.

    Ditto for Oil or Tar Sands in Canada. They are already bumping against limits.

    The dreamers are in for a rude awakening soon. All but the tar sands will take years and billions to make it to the gas pumps or tanks.

  3. BBrown on Sat, 27th Aug 2011 4:31 pm 

    Have these guys ever been right? haha. Id take that analysis with a grin of salt its probably dead wrong.

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