Unconventional Natural Gas : Availability

This report forecasts that North American unconventional natural gas recoverable reserves from tight gas, coalbed methane, and shale gas formations exceed 900 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).  The report states that overall recoverable natural gas resources in the U.S. and Canada exceed 2,330 Tcf.  Current annual U.S. and Canadian consumption of natural gas is approximately 26.4 Tcf. 

Unconventional formations are making a major contribution to future North American natural gas supply and production with a current emphasis on developing tight gas and shale gas resources.  The recent rapid expansion of horizontal shale gas development in the U.S. has ushered in a new era for North American natural gas supply. 

Areas of intense infrastructure activity over the past decade include Wyoming, East Texas, and the Mid-Continent.  Natural gas production in the Rockies has increased rapidly and major pipeline expansions were required to move natural gas from the region. 

The report, prepared by ICF International (ICF) presents and compares various estimates of the unconventional gas resource base in North America.  Among several published mean U.S. shale gas resource assessments, the ICF assessment is the largest at 385 Tcf.  For the INGAA Foundation study, ICF carried out volumetric resource studies on most of the large active shale gas plays in the U.S.  This included estimates of total gas-in-place, drilling depth, spacing, and recovery per well. 

The report also evaluates other forms of unconventional natural gas, including aboveground and underground coal gasification, natural gas from oil shales, landfill gas, biogas, and gas hydrates.  With the exception of aboveground gasification and landfill gas, most of these are not likely to contribute significantly to North American gas production through 2020.