When the USGS published a drastically reduced estimate of undiscovered but technically recoverable gas in the Marcellus Shale, the EIA said it would adjust its figures. It has done so, as reported in Upstream Online :
In its 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, released on Monday, the EIA puts the amount of unproved technically recoverable shale gas resources in the US at 482 trillion cubic feet, almost 42% less than its estimate of 827 Tcf a year ago.
“The decline largely reflects a decrease in the estimate for the Marcellus shale, from 410 trillion cubic feet to 141 trillion cubic feet,” the agency said in an early overview of it annual projection of energy markets through 2035.
The assessment of Marcellus resources was made with more comprehensive well data available due to the vast number of wells drilled in the past couple of years.
Despite the lower projections of available gas, the agency still expects US gas production to increase, keeping prices low. As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette :
The daily rate of Marcellus production doubled in 2011, but that development yielded new data giving what the department’s Energy Information Administration says is the truer — or at least latest — indication of how much recoverable gas awaits drillers signing leases in the region.
Despite the lower estimate, gas production in the United States is still expected to grow, lessening America’s dependence on energy imports and keeping natural gas prices at profit-busting lows.
Nationwide, shale gas production is expected to increase from 5 trillion cubic feet in 2010 to 13.6 trillion in 2035.
Gas is now trading around a decade-low $2.30 per thousand cubic feet, and the EIA expects it to remain below $5 through 2023.
That’s sorry news for drillers already trying to figure out how to justify rapid-fire drilling in a market that doesn’t promise quick profits.
The lower gas prices — coming at a time when oil values are rising — have led to major company portfolio changes in just the past week.