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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