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News : Innovation Last Updated: Jun 12, 2013 - 10:41 AM


US says shale oil resources at 10 years of world oil use
By Finfacts Team
Jun 11, 2013 - 2:41 AM

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Global shale resources are sufficient to cover more than a decade of oil consumption, according to an assessment by a US government agency.

Estimated shale oil and shale gas resources in the United States and in 137 shale formations in 41 other countries represent 10% of the world's crude oil and 32% of the world's natural gas technically recoverable resources, or those that can be produced using current technology without reference to economic profitability, according to a new study from the US Energy Information Administration released on Monday.

The study says gas from shale formations have increased world natural gas resources by 47% to 22,882tn cubic feet.

More than half of the identified shale oil resources outside the United States are concentrated in four countries—Russia, China, Argentina, and Libya—while more than half of the non-US shale gas resources are concentrated in five countries—China, Argentina, Algeria, Canada, and Mexico. The United States is ranked second after Russia for shale oil resources and fourth after Algeria for shale gas resources when compared with the 41 countries assessed.

The EIA study estimates technically recoverable resources of 345bn barrels of world shale oil resources and 7,299tn cubic feet of world shale gas resources. It says that while the current report considers more shale formations than were assessed in the prior version of this assessment, it still does not assess many prospective shale formations, such as those underlying the large oil fields located in the Middle East and the Caspian region. Currently, only the United States and Canada are producing shale oil and shale gas in commercial quantities.

The study says that because they have proven to be quickly producible in large volumes at a relatively low cost, shale / tight oil and shale gas resources have revolutionized US oil and natural gas production, providing 29% of total US crude oil production and 40% of total US natural gas production in 2012.

However, it says given the variation across the world's shale formations in both geology and above-the-ground conditions, the extent to which global technically recoverable shale resources will prove to be economically recoverable is not yet clear. The market impact of shale resources outside the United States will depend on their own production costs and volumes. For example, a potential shale well that costs twice as much and produces half the output of a typical US well would be unlikely to back out current supply sources of oil or natural gas. In many cases, even significantly smaller differences in costs, well productivity, or both can make the difference between a resource that is a market game changer and one that is economically irrelevant at current market prices.

Several countries have begun to evaluate and test the production potential of shale formations located in their countries. Poland, for example, has leased prospective shale acreage and drilled 43 test wells as of April 2013. Argentina, Australia, China, England, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have begun exploration or expressed interest in their shale formations.

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