New Energy Revolution Takes Shape In U.S.

  • Date: 01/12/10

NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) – U.S. natural gas reserves increased by the most in history last year, and crude reserves also rose, as companies drilled frantically into shale rock formations with new technology, the Energy Information Administration said in an annual report on Tuesday. U.S. net proved natural gas reserves rose 11 percent, or 28.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf), in 2009 to total 284 tcf, underscoring the dramatic impact that new gas pumped from shale rock formations is having on world energy supply.

Louisiana, whose statewide reserves grew quickest, saw its economically viable gas reserves surge by 77 percent, or 9.2 tcf, led by developments in its Haynesville Shale. U.S. net proved crude oil reserves rose 9 percent, or 1.8 billion barrels, to 22.3 billion barrels in 2009. Texas saw its proved oil volumes rise most, by 529 million barrels, or 11 percent. North Dakota, home of the oil-rich Bakken Shale formation, saw its reserves jump by a whopping 83 percent, or 481 million barrels.

“These increases demonstrate the possibility of an expanding role for domestic natural gas and crude oil in meeting both current and projected U.S. energy demands,” EIA researchers said in their report. Proved reserves — which now stand at the equivalent of 12 years of gas consumption and 3.3 years of oil demand — represent energy supplies that are extensively charted out and could be tapped under current market conditions. Total recoverable reserves, however, can be far higher.

The addition of 47.6 tcf in new proved gas reserves was the sharpest on record and caps seven straight years of increases, EIA said. It was led by gas from shale rock formations, such as Haynesville, where advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have unlocked vast new energy potential.

As the cost of tapping gas fell, reserves were added even though prices of U.S. natural gas futures fell sharply last year, by an average of 32 percent, according to EIA’s calculations. Burgeoning supplies of the fuel contributed to the price rout.

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