Actually much much more.
Home News Local .Shale contains 40 times more gas in new estimate
Shale contains 40 times more gas in new estimate By JIM MILLER email@example.com Finger Lakes Times | 0 comments
The Marcellus Shale may contain about 40 times more recoverable natural gas than previously thought, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday.
In 2002, the USGS estimated the shale formation contained 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Now, it thinks there are 84 trillion cubic feet.
In addition, the agency upped its estimate of recoverable natural gas liquids from 10 million to 3.4 billion barrels.
For an industry eager to expand, the new estimates are welcome news.
“I think the numbers start to quantify and sort of validate the perception that the industry has on the magnitude of this resource and the economic opportunity,” said John Holko, secretary of the board for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York.
The new estimates represent increases of 4,100 percent and 33,900 percent, respectively, over the previous numbers.
Estimates do vary, however. The U.S. Department of Energy had earlier put the amount of recoverable gas at 410 trillion cubic tons — 80 percent more than the new USGS estimate.
The Finger Lakes region sits on the fringe of the vast Marcellus Shale formation, which lies beneath Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Much of the gas can be extracted only through a controversial drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, a procedure New York state is currently reviewing.
“[The Marcellus Shale] gets much thinner in this area, so [the new estimate] has, I’m sure, much more impact to Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier,” said Phil Cianciotto, president of the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association.
The Seneca Lake association supports environmentally responsible drilling, but has expressed concerns about hydrofracking. The increased gas estimates don’t change that.
“The amount of gas is neither here nor there,” Cianciotto said. “It’s more the process to extract the gas.”
Water contamination and other environmental woes are concerns related to hydrofracking, he said.
In a press release, the USGS attributed its increased estimates to new geological information and engineering data.
“Since the 1930s, almost every well-drilling through the Marcellus found noticeable quantities of natural gas,” the USGS said. “However, in late 2004, the Marcellus was recognized as a potential reservoir rock, instead of just a regional rock source, meaning that the gas could be produced from it instead of just being a source for the gas.”
Holko said the new estimates reflect both data from drilling that’s already taken place and the new technology now in use, including horizontal drilling.
Before wells are drilled, the amount of gas is always a guess. Now that drilling has started, seeing the estimates increase instead of drop is encouraging for the industry, Holko said.
The USGS worked with the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, the Ohio Geological Survey, academics and gas industry representatives to develop an improved understanding of the Marcellus Shale.
The resulting numbers represent an average. Estimates of recoverable natural gas ranged from 43 trillion to 144.1 trillion cubic feet. Estimates of recoverable natural gas liquids ranged from 1.6 billion to 6.2 billion barrels.
The IOGA did not work with the USGS on the estimates.
“They probably shied away a little bit from New York because, as you know, there’s not much happening in New York,” Holko said.
Holko and other industry advocates hope to see that change.
“The recovery of this resource is no way indicative of some ability to jeopardize environmental safety,” he said. “This is all done with all kinds of environmental oversight, so I think it’s a very good opportunity for everyone in the Appalachian Basin. And remember, [the Marcellus Shale] is just one of the formations down there.”