[asa] vast new gas supplies

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Wed Nov 18 2009 - 00:37:00 EST

New applications of old technology have dramatically raised estimates of producible US gas supplies. According to Business Week (10/19/09), a Colorado School of Mines report claims US reserves may be as high as 1800 TCF (trillion cubic feet), equivalent to 320 billion barrels of oil, or more than Saudi Arabia's known reserves. Most of this amount at this point exists only as speculation, but the reality is that known producible reserves have gone up 39% in the past two years--as the price of gas has plummeted.

Oil companies have known for decades that huge quantities of methane existed in US sedimentary rock, and they've tried mostly in vain to produce it economically. Much of the earlier effort attempted to extract gas from tight (relatively impermeable) sandstones. The new reserves instead are in shale, a kind of rock seldom thought to make good reservoirs. Production involves a combination of two old technologies, drilling wells horizontally and then hydraulically fracturing the rock. Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping fluids and proppants into wells at high enough pressures to crack the rock in situ. The proppants, which are hard particles carried into formations by the fluids, get wedged in cracks and hold them open to give a lasting increase in permeability.

Use of this technology is not limited to the US but should be applicable to many shales worldwide. Shale is the most common kind of sedimentary rock, and much of it is known to contain methane.


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Received on Wed Nov 18 00:37:24 2009

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