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North American Energy Boom
Texas Formation’s Shale Gas Estimates Doubled

One of America’s most productive shale basins has twice as much natural gas and a lot more oil than was previously estimated, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report. The Barnett Shale formation is in north central Texas, and within it you can find hydrocarbons galore. The Texas Tribune reports:

The U.S Geological Survey says the 25-county region holds an average volume of about 53 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to its updated assessment released Thursday. That’s nearly twice as much gas as the agency estimated in 2003, before a mad dash of drillers transformed the landscape in North Texas.

The region’s shale also holds about 172 million barrels of shale oil and 176 million barrels of natural gas liquids, the new estimate says.

More than a decade ago, the agency pegged the Barnett’s undiscovered holdings at about 26.2 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered gas and 1 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. It did not bother to assess how much oil was trapped in the North Texas rock — assuming it was minimal.

The previous USGS estimates were based on 2003 data, and much has changed in America’s energy landscape since then. In fact, the doubling of Barnett’s estimated natural gas reserves in just a dozen years is an excellent illustration of how hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling have fundamentally transformed the U.S. energy landscape.

There’s been plenty of talk about the ability of U.S. shale firms to continue profitably to drill in today’s oversupplied bearish crude market. While output has flagged somewhat in recent months, it hasn’t fallen off to the extent that many expected, and the estimates of the reserves they’re plumbing are being revised upwards. That means the U.S. will be able to draw from this formation for longer than we knew. America’s energy future is still bright.

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  • Stephen

    Great, great story told about the race to develop the Barnett in Zuckerman’s, “The Frackers”. What’s true about the Barnett is likely to be true about the Marcellus which dwarfs the Barnett in potential.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “The region’s shale also holds about 172 million barrels of shale oil and 176 million barrels of natural gas liquids, the new estimate says.

    More than a decade ago, the agency pegged the Barnett’s undiscovered holdings at about 26.2 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered gas and 1 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.”

    I really hate it when the numbers don’t add up, am I the only one that reads and understands the numbers? The USGS estimated in 2003 that there was 1 Billion barrels of natural gas liquids in the Barnett, but now it only has 176 Million barrels. So where did the other 824 Million barrels go? Or are they saying there’s less now? It seems to me that doubling the Natural Gas, doesn’t make up for reducing the Natural Gas Liquids by 83%.

    • brotherStefan

      I read “the region’s shale…” to imply that shale is a mere fraction of the entire region addressed by the article.

    • Osopardo

      Could also be a siimple typo.

  • Buck West

    That’s great, but unfortunately barack obama is president. We’ll have to wait for a Republican POTUS before we put American interests first.

    • richard40

      If Hillary wins, the lefties will find some way to ban fracking, then its back to peak oil, and rationing, and dependence on the Saudis, which is probably why the Saudis finance so many environmental groups.

  • Del_Varner

    With this, I hope we can bankrupt the Saudis.

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