On The Path Toward Energy Independence: Shale Gas Boom Will Power Our Economy for Decades

February 28, 2013

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal highlights new research performed by the University of Texas showing that America’s natural gas boom is here to stay. Advanced drilling techniques have allowed developers to tap into America’s vast shale reserves. The development of these shale gas reserves has been game changer for American energy and our economy. The dramatic increase in U.S. natural gas production has created thousands of middle class jobs, increased America’s global competitiveness, and strengthened our energy security. This new research suggests the shale gas boom will continue to power our economy for decades to come.

Gas Boom Projected to Grow for Decades
The Wall Street Journal
February 28, 2013

U.S. natural-gas production will accelerate over the next three decades, new research indicates, providing the strongest evidence yet that the energy boom remaking America will last for a generation.

The most exhaustive study to date of a key natural-gas field in Texas, combined with related research under way elsewhere, shows that U.S. shale-rock formations will provide a growing source of moderately priced natural gas through 2040, and decline only slowly after that. A report on the Texas field, to be released Thursday, was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The research provides substantial evidence that there are large quantities of gas available that can be drilled profitably at a market price of $4 per million British thermal units, a relatively small increase from the current price of about $3.43.

The study, funded by the nonpartisan Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and performed by the University of Texas, examined 15,000 wells drilled in the Barnett Shale formation in northern Texas, mostly over the past decade. It is among the first to study the geology and economics of shale drilling, a relatively recent development made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped at high pressure into rocks to release gas.

Looking at data from actual wells rather than relying on estimates and extrapolations, the study broadly confirms conclusions by the energy industry and the U.S. government, which in December forecast rising gas production.

"We are looking at multi, multi decades of growth," said Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the university and a leader of the study. …

The U.S. energy industry welcomed the conclusion that a large number of successful gas wells remain to be drilled. The American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of large U.S. oil and gas companies, said in a statement that the study "underscores the fact that the U.S. has substantial and growing natural gas resources that will be able to supply future domestic markets and provide exports as well."

To get at all this gas will require tens of thousands of new wells, spread throughout rural and some urban parts of the country. Even in the Barnett formation, which has been drilled intensively for a decade, there still may be room for 13,000 more wells, said Mr. Tinker.

He said that existing wells "aren't draining giant areas, but they are draining pretty efficiently from areas around them." This means that even in densely drilled areas, he said, "there is a reasonable amount of good quality drilling still to be done." …

To read the full article online, click HERE.