Shale Development Drives U.S. Proved Reserves To Highest Level Since 1971

January 2011 Vol. 238 No. 1

U.S. natural gas proved reserves, estimated as “wet” gas which includes natural gas plant liquids, increased by 11% in 2009 to 284 Tcf, the highest level since 1971, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Summary: U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves, 2009.

“This demonstrates the growing importance of shale gas in meeting both current and projected energy needs,” said Richard Newell, EIA Administrator. “Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania were the leading states in adding new proved reserves of shale gas during 2009,” he said.

Louisiana led the nation in additions of natural gas proved reserves with a net increase of 9.2 Tcf (77%) owing primarily to development of the Haynesville Shale. Arkansas (Fayetteville Shale) and Pennsylvania (Marcellus Shale) nearly doubled reserves with net increases of 5.2 Tcf and 3.4 Tcf, respectively. These increases occurred despite a 32% decline in the natural gas wellhead prices used to assess economic viability for 2009 reserves as compared to prices used in reserves reporting for 2008.

Proved reserves of U.S. oil (crude oil plus condensate) also increased in 2009, rising 9% to 22.3 billion barrels. Texas had the largest increase in reserve volume while North Dakota had the second-largest increase, reflecting growth in the Bakken Shale. Unlike the situation for natural gas, where proved reserves grew robustly despite lower wellhead prices, the rise in proved reserves of crude oil was supported by a 37% increase in the crude oil prices used to estimate reserves. For more information visit: http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/crudeoilnaturalgasreserves.

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