Oil, Gas From Shale Seen Rising as More Nations Explore

Global resources of oil and gas from shale formations are greater than previously estimated as more nations join efforts to explore for deposits following a burst of production in the U.S.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a fresh assessment of worldwide resources of oil and gas in shale, which are tapped by hydraulic fracturing, showing tight oil resources could be 345 billion barrels. Shale gas estimates were increased by 10 percent from 2011, to 7,299 trillion cubic feet.

“As shale oil and shale gas production has grown in the United States to become 30 percent of oil and 40 percent of natural gas total production, interest in the oil and natural gas resource potential of shale formations outside the United States has grown,” Adam Sieminski, the agency’s administrator, said today a statement. The report shows “a significant potential for international shale oil and shale gas.”

The report doesn’t assess all prospective shale formations, leaving out those under the large oil fields in the Middle East and the Caspian region because of a lack of data. The report studied technically recoverable resources, and the agency says some of those might not be economically justified given current cost for drilling or fracking in different nations.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water, sand and chemicals are shot underground to break apart rock and free natural gas or oil trapped in the shale, has led to a boom in energy production to Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota. It’s led to a drop in natural gas prices, and estimates that the U.S. could meet its energy needs for the first time in decades.

The EIA studied shale formations in 41 nations, compared with 32 assessed in a similar report in 2011. That report didn’t include estimates of tight oil. Shale resources account for 32 percent of the global estimated natural gas resources and 10 percent of estimated oil resources in shale, according to the report.

Shale oil resources are greatest in Russia, followed by the U.S. and China. Shale gas is greatest in China, Argentina and Algeria, the agency said in its report.

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