The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

"Remarkable" Natural Gas

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted November 2, 2009

"Remarkable" was the word used by Energy Information Administrator Richard Newell last week to describe the sharp rise in U.S. natural gas reserves. In a report issued by his agency last week, Newell noted that U.S. proven natural gas reserves rose 3 percent in 2008.

The report also showed that natural gas reserves in shale formations rose an astonishing 51 percent over 2007. "This year's report underscores for a second year the technological shift in domestic exploration and production from conventional reserves to unconventional shales," Newell said.

In the past few years, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have unlocked the promise of natural gas in shale formations and have led to a natural gas boom in several regions of the country. The Barnett Shale in Texas, the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana and the Marcellus Shale stretching from New York to West Virginia have helped to increase natural gas supplies and improve U.S. energy security. They have also encouraged discussions about America's abundant natural gas as a bridge fuel to the nation's energy future.

The Houston Chronicle has posted the first of a series of articles about unconventional natural gas. As reporter Tom Fowler writes, "Until just a few years ago, the story of natural gas in the U.S. had been one of decline." Today technology is accessing natural gas that at one time seemed impossible or too costly to produce.

At the end of 2008, U.S. natural gas reserves stood at 244.7 trillion cubic feet. That is the highest level since 1973, according to API data.

For more information on the technologies used to recover natural gas resources, read API's new guidance document outlining current best-industry practices for proper drilling and cementing of wells that are hydraulically fractured.