Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in tight shale plays helped US oil and gas reserves grow at a record pace during 2010, the US Energy Information Administration said Aug. 1.
It was the biggest single-year increase since EIA began publishing proved reserves estimates in 1977, the US Department of Energy statistical and forecasting agency noted.
Estimated domestic crude and condensate proved reserves climbed by a net 2.9 billion bbl, or 12.8%, to 25.2 billion bbl as of Dec. 31, 2010, EIA said in its report on US oil, gas, and gas liquids reserves.
Wet natural gas proved reserves rose by a net 33.8 tcf, or 11.9%, to 317.6 tcf during the same period. The increases broke growth records set in 2009 of 1.8 billion bbl for crude and condensate, and 28.8 tcf for wet gas, EIA said.
The increasing ratio of oil-to-gas prices led US producers to focus on liquids-rich areas in 2010, and the trend has continued in the 18 months since as the price ratio widened, EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski told a US House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Aug. 2.
Early 2012 trends
During January through May 2012, EIA’s estimated domestic crude and condensate production averaged 6.2 million b/d, its highest level since 1998, Sieminski said.
“Marked increases in Lower 48 onshore oil production, since the fourth quarter of 2011, are mainly because of higher output from tight oil plays in North Dakota and Texas,” he said.
Dry gas production increased since 2005 mainly because shale gas production has grown, Sieminski said.
“That upward growth trend has been a little bumpy as economic factors affecting gas prices and weather events led to temporary declines in production,” he observed.
Reduced production from the Haynesville shale and other dry gas plays were offset by growth in the Eagle Ford shale, wet areas of the Marcellus shale, and associated gas production, he said.
Sieminski said EIA expects US dry gas production growth in 2012 will decline from 2011 and will fall again in 2013. EIA also forecast a small drop in production the next few months, reflecting a decline in rigs since October 2011.