Shale boosts US reserves to 36-year high

11Shale April 2014, News Wires – Proven US oil reserves jumped in 2012 to the highest level since 1976, boosted by shale plays in Texas and North Dakota, while gas reserves fell for the first time in a decade due to low prices, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.

Proven oil and condensate reserves jumped 15.4% in 2012 to 33 billion barrels, Reuters reported. Companies booked 5.4 billion barrels of new reserves through discoveries, the EIA said.

Various revisions and adjustments added another 1.5 billion barrels, while the extraction of 2.4 billion barrels brought the net addition to reserves to 4.5 billion barrels, it added.

Reserves in the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas, at 3.4 billion barrels, surpassed that of North Dakota’s Bakken play, which had 3.2 billion barrels. In 2011 Bakken held 2.0 billion barrels and Eagle Ford 1.6 billion barrels.

“Geographically, the largest total oil discoveries in 2012 were from Texas, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Texas led by a considerable margin, with discoveries of 3.0 billion barrels (mostly in the Eagle Ford play),” the EIA said.

“North Dakota added nearly 1 billion barrels, marking that state’s fourth consecutive year as a major source of total discoveries,” the report said.

North Dakota ranks behind only the Gulf of Mexico and Texas as the biggest producing US regions. Historically, Alaska and California have placed ahead of North Dakota in reserves.

US oil reserves are now at their highest since 1976, but the country still stands just outside the world’s top 10 in terms of reserves, according to Reuters.

Even after the increase, it holds less than half as much crude as Russia, which ranked number eight in 2012 with 87 billion barrels, according to BP’s benchmark Statistic Review of World Energy published last year.

The world’s five largest resource-holders – which include Opec’s biggest members plus Canada – hold over 1 trillion barrels, according to the review.

US gas production, meanwhile, remained at record highs, thanks to the heavy drilling of the previous five years. But reserves fell 26 trillion cubic feet, or 7.5%, to 322.7 Tcf, as oversupply depressed prices, making drilling uneconomic.

As gas prices halved and dropped to a 10-year low below $2 per million British thermal units, investment in gas drilling fell sharply and the gas rig count plummeted from record highs.

Proven reserves in the Marcellus shale formation in the Appalachian basin in Pennsylvania and West Virginia surpassed those in the Barnett shale of Texas to become the largest in the country, the EIA said.



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