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