The United States natural gas resource base is the largest in the world and continues to grow as advanced technologies unlock vast quantities of natural gas from previously untapped formations. The production of cost-effective natural gas is dramatically reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil and improving our energy security. As global oil supplies become scarcer, more expensive, and more prone to supply disruptions, we are uniquely poised to take advantage of our domestic supplies of natural gas to power our vehicles and our economy in the 21st century.
The United States now produces more natural gas than ever before. Nearly 90 percent of the natural gas used in the U.S. is produced in the U.S., and nearly all remaining supplies come by pipeline from Canada. Two respected authorities, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Potential Gas Committee (PGC), provide reliable estimates of domestic natural gas resources. The PGC’s year-end 2012 assessment exceeds all others in their 48 year history with a reported 2,384 Tcf of technically recoverable natural gas. Combined with the U.S. DOE’s proven dry-gas reserves as of year-end 2012, the PGC estimates the U.S. has 2,722 Tcf of future supply. At the current rate of consumption in the U.S., which is about 26.8 Tcf per year, domestic natural gas resources will supply over 100 years of use.
The PGC provides an optimistic outlook for all types of natural gas resources within our borders, both on land and under the ocean. Until recently, the waters below the Gulf of Mexico was the country’s richest source of traditional natural gas resources. The current assessment of Appalachian basin shale gas (primarily the Marcellus but including the Utica and other Devonian shale plays), the Atlantic area represents 33 percent of total traditional resources, making it our country’s richest natural gas source. These newest finds—called shale plays—have been on land, where producers have used advanced technologies to discover and produce natural gas from shale rock formations. These new technologies, namely horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, allow producers to find the pockets of natural gas within shale formations and bring their contents to the surface. Natural gas is now being produced from shale formations found in Louisiana, Texas, the Rocky Mountains, and an area stretching from West Virginia to New York. Both the PGC and the EIA note the growing importance of shale gas. The PGC estimates that shale gas accounts for 48 percent of the U.S. resource base, and the EIA shows significant growth in shale gas production in the past three years.
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