PGC Report Finds 110 Years of Natural Gas Beneath Our Feet

A new report from the Potential Gas Committee (PGC) delivers yet another blow to Peak Oil enthusiasts, finding the United States holds a technically recoverable natural gas resource of 2,384 trillion cubic feet (tcf), which is actually 26 percent higher than any previous finding.

The PGC’s year-end 2012 biennial report, Potential Supply of Natural Gas in the United States, found that the United States possesses a technically recoverable natural gas resource potential that, when combined with the proven gas reserves estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey, would yield 110 years’ worth of natural gas, based on current consumption levels.

This is also the highest resource evaluation in the PGC’s 48 year history — exceeding its 2010 assessment by 486 Tcf.

The PGC report looked at all types of resource basins for natural gas, from so-called “conventional” deposits to shales, tight reservoirs, and coalbed methane. But as John Curtis, study lead, director of the PGC and a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, observed: “It’s really shale gas that has exceeded the potential many people expected.”

The Financial Times also highlights how the PGC’s estimates of natural gas tracked the growth of interest in (and development of) U.S. shale deposits:

“The PGC’s biennial assessment of America’s gas potential was fairly stable at about 1,000tn cu ft through much of the 1990s and early 2000s. But it started to rise sharply in 2006 when unconventional gas production took off. The committee estimated that the US had about 200tn cu ft of resources in 2006, a figure that rose fivefold by 2012 to 1,000tn cu ft.

“In its report, the committee said the increase in its current assessment was primarily thanks to a re-evaluation of shale gas plays in the Appalachian basin in the eastern part of the US, which contains the Marcellus and Utica Shales, and also important new contributions of both shale gas and conventional resources in the Rocky Mountains region in the west.” (emphasis added)

And, as American Gas Association President and CEO Dave McGurdy highlighted while announcing the report, this increase in recoverable natural gas has far-reaching benefits for the United States:

“This ground up, science-based assessment emphasizes our nation’s robust supply of natural gas, and confirms that we can continue to rely on abundant, clean natural gas for our future energy needs,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA. “By investing in our energy future and harnessing the promises of this resource, we can look forward to decades of market stability – and that’s great news for our customers.”

Thanks to innovation within America’s oil and natural gas industry, hydraulic fracturing is helping to unlock these plays and more than a century’s worth of clean-burning natural gas, which is creating jobs, reducing air pollution, bolstering our national security, and even providing base load power to allow renewable energy to grow. Today’s report from PGC shows why these benefits are not a fleeting and temporarily anomaly, but in fact the new reality in the United States. Thus, the PGC report is unquestionably good news not only for the economy, but also for the environment that we all cherish.

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