World shale gas resources outside US assessed

Guntis Moritis
OGJ Production Editor

HOUSTON, Apr. 6 -- Initial estimated technically recoverable shale gas resources in the 32 countries assessed in an Apr. 5 report is 5,760 tcf compared with the 862 tcf in the US. The report was commissioned by the US Energy Information Administration from Advanced Resources International Inc. (ARI).

The report includes 48 shale gas basins in 32 countries, containing almost 70 shale gas formations.

EIA noted that world proved reserves of natural gas as of Jan. 1, 2010, are about 6,609 tcf and world technically recoverable gas resources are about 16,000 tcf, largely excluding shale gas. Thus, adding the identified shale gas resources to other gas resources increases total world technically recoverable gas resources by more than 40% to 22,600 tcf.

EIA said these shale resources are uncertain given the relatively sparse data that currently exist and the approach ARI employed would likely result in a higher estimate once better information becomes available.

At the current time, efforts are under way to develop more detailed shale gas resource assessments by the countries themselves, with many of these assessments being assisted by several US federal agencies under the auspices of the Global Shale Gas Initiative (GSGI) which was launched in April 2010.

EIA explained that shale gas development was more likely to emerge for two country groupings.

The first group consists of countries such as France, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, South Africa, Morocco, and Chile that are highly dependent on natural gas imports, have at least some gas production infrastructure, and their estimated shale gas resources are substantial relative to their current gas consumption. South Africa also could use shale gas as feedstock for its existing gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids plants.

The second group consists of countries with more than 200 tcf of shale gas resource such as Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, Libya, Algeria, Argentina, and Brazil.

The report did not include Russia and Central Asia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Central Africa primarily because of existing significant quantities of conventional natural gas reserves in place (Russia and the Middle East) or because of a general lack of information for even an initial assessment.

Contact Guntis Moritis at guntism@ogjonline.com.

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