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Geologists Slash Estimate of Shale Gas by Nearly 80%

August 25, 2011

It’s an earthquake of a different sort.  Based on a data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States government, via its Energy Information Administration, is cutting its estimate of natural gas recoverable from the Marcellus Shale by nearly 80%.

Today’s New York Times story by Ian Urbina is here.  Excerpts:

The shale formation has about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas, according to the report from the United States Geological Survey. This is drastically lower than the 410 trillion cubic feet that was published earlier this year by the federal Energy Information Administration.

As a result, the Energy Information Administration, which is responsible for quantifying oil and gas supplies, has said it will slash its official estimate for the Marcellus Shale by nearly 80 percent, a move that is likely to generate new questions about how the agency calculates its estimates and why it was so far off in its projections.

Read the full New York Times story here.

Bloomberg reported it on Wednesday August 24th here.  Excerpts:

The United States will slash its estimate of undiscovered Marcellus Shale natural gas by nearly 80 percent after an updated assessment by government geologists.  The formation, which stretches from New York to Tennessee, contains about 84 trillion feet of gas, the USGS said on Tuesday in its first update in nine years.  That supersedes an Energy Department projection of 410 trillion cubic feet, said Philip Budzik, an operations research analyst with the Energy Information Administration.

“We consider the USGS to be the experts in this matter,” Budzik said.  “They’re geologists, we’re not.  We’re going to be taking this number and using it in our model.”

This month, Range Resources Corp., Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and Goodrich Petroleum Corp. were subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over whether they accurately represented the profitability of their natural-gas wells in the region, according to a person familiar with the matter.  The subpoenas, sent Aug. 8, requested documents on formulas used to project how long the wells can produce gas without additional drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The full Bloomsberg story is here.

With widespread methane migration, toxic spills every day, sick people, and dead animals in shale country, the industry’s thick wall of denial has included no honesty even about the recoverable gas estimates.  This is the industry the state of Pennsylvania has shown enormous trust towards.  While rural people report streams gone dry and lowered water tables, nowhere in the state has a single cumulative impact study been done.  It’s taken years for our federal government to even begin paying attention to the truth about recoverable gas.  Wonder what else the industry hasn’t been telling us, because officials have been too busy doling out exemptions and otherwise showing this industry so much love, rather than asking hard questions and calling a halt?


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