USGS: Barnett Shale Has Twice as Much Natural Gas than Previously Thought

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We all know that the Barnet Shale is a vital source of cheap, abundant natural gas in Texas, but according to a recent updated assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), its significance may be even greater than we thought.

A new USGS report finds that the Barnett Shale is estimated to contain 53 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas – over twice what the USGS previously estimated back in 2003. In addition to the substantial increase in potential natural gas resources, the USGS also estimates that the Barnett has 172 million barrels of recoverable shale oil and 176 million barrels of recoverable natural gas liquids.

Calling the Barnett Shale a “significant source of potential natural gas resources,” the USGS credits the increase in recoverable estimates to the efficient use of fracking and horizontal drilling:

“The substantial increase in potential resources is largely due to the oil and gas industry’s switch to primarily horizontal drilling within the Barnett, paired with hydraulic fracturing. The 2003 USGS assessment relied solely on vertical drilling. Since 2003, more than 16,000 horizontal wells have been drilled into the formation. Those wells have helped produce more than 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 59 million barrels of oil in the Barnett since the 2003 assessment.”

 

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According to recent analysis from the Brookings Institution, lower natural gas prices from fracking have resulted in a savings of $432 per person on heating costs alone in Texas. Hard-working Texans also depend on oil and natural gas jobs to provide for their families, as energy development in the Barnett Shale has accounted for more than 107,000 permanent jobs in the region.

Energy savings from lower priced natural gas not only benefits residential consumers, but also the manufacturing sector.  Low natural gas prices have influenced manufacturers who use fuel as a feedstock to move their operations back to United States, after a decade of seeking lower prices overseas. According to the American Chemistry Council, as of September 2014, $45.8 billion of potential investment in new chemical manufacturing facilities or expansion projects is destined for Texas to take advantage of shale gas.

With so many in this state benefiting from low natural gas prices from fracking, the news that the Barnett holds over twice the natural gas than we previously thought gives every Texan a reason to celebrate.

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