A decade or so ago, there was a common lament that the United States was an inevitably declining oil and natural gas province doomed to become increasingly reliant on foreign imports of fuel.
Now, not so much.
Improved well drilling and completion techniques have led to the "shale gas revolution" that is producing huge volumes of natural gas in places where there previously was little successful gas drilling (e.g., Tarrant and Johnson counties in North Texas, home to the gas-rich Barnett Shale). And technological advances are cranking up oil production in long-established petroleum provinces such as the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico.
Excerpts from a Bloomberg News report, issued today, offer further evidence that the U.S. oil and gas industry may have a considerably brighter future than once expected:
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. natural gas proved reserves rose in 2009 to the highest level since 1971, driven by shale gas development, the Energy Department said today in a report. Reserves increased 11 percent to 284 trillion cubic feet.
Reported oil proved reserves rose by 8.6 percent to 22.3 billion barrels. The overall increase in oil reserves was the largest in the 33 years that the government has published estimates.
“These increases demonstrate the possibility of an expanding role for domestic natural gas and crude oil in meeting both current and projected U.S. energy demands,” the Energy Department report said.
Proved reserves are volumes of oil and gas that geological and engineering data indicate can be recovered from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions.
Natural gas from shale represented 21 percent of U.S. gas reserves in 2009, according to the report. The largest area was the Barnett Shale.
--Jack Z. Smith