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EIA Energy Outlook 2011 more than doubles estimates of US shale gas resources; higher production at lower prices

Aeo2011-1
Shale gas offsets declines in other US supply to meet consumption growth and lower import needs. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

The Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (AEO2011) Reference case released yesterday by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) more than doubles the technically recoverable US shale gas resources assumed in AEO2010 and added new shale oil resources.

The technically recoverable unproved shale gas resource is 827 trillion cubic feet (as of 1 January 2009) in the AEO2011 Reference case, 474 trillion cubic feet larger than in the AEO2010 Reference case, reflecting additional information that has become available with more drilling activity in new and existing shale plays. This larger resource leads to about double the shale gas production and more than 20% higher total lower-48 natural gas production in 2035, with lower natural gas prices, than was projected in the AEO2010 Reference case.

Our Reference case projection shows the growing importance of natural gas from domestic shale gas resources in meeting US energy demand and lowering natural gas prices. Energy efficiency improvements and the increased use of renewables are other key factors that moderate the projected growth in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

—EIA Administrator Richard Newell

CO2. Assuming no changes in policy related to greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide emissions grow slowly, but do not again reach 2005 levels until 2027. After falling 3% in 2008 and nearly 7% in 2009, largely driven by the economic downturn, energy-related CO2 emissions do not return to 2005 levels (5,980 million metric tons) until 2027. CO2 emissions then rise by an additional 5% from 2027 to 2035, reaching 6,315 million metric tons in 2035.

Transportation updates. Among the transportation-related updates going into AEO2011, the EIA increased the limit for blending ethanol into gasoline for approved vehicles from 10% to 15%, as a result of the waiver granted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in October 2010. It also updated the costs and sizes of electric and plug-in hybrid electric batteries and revised downward light-duty vehicle travel demand due to the adoption of a new estimation technique.

It also incorporated California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard—which reduces the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel fuels in that State by 10% from 2012 through 2020, and incorporated changes in environmental rules at the State level.

AEO2011 assumes the adoption of CAFE standards for light-duty vehicles for model year 2011, as well as joint CAFE and greenhouse gas emissions standards set forth by the EPA and NHTSA for model years 2012 through 2016. The fuel economy standards are increased through model year 2020 to meet the statutory requirements of EISA2007. Beyond 2020, CAFE standards for both passenger cars and light-duty trucks are held constant. The AEO2011 Reference case does not include the proposed fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles because the specifics of the new standards are not yet available.

Aeo2011-3
Unconventional vehicle sales. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

To attain the mandated fuel economy levels, the AEO2011 Reference case includes a rapid increase in sales of unconventional vehicle technologies, such as flex-fuel, hybrid electric, micro hybrid, plug-in, and diesel vehicles, as well as a lower ratio of light-duty truck sales to passenger car sales. According to the forecast, unconventional vehicles will represent more than 40% of US light-duty vehicle sales in 2035.

Transportation projections. Delivered energy consumption in the transportation sector grows from 27.2 quadrillion Btu in 2009 to 31.8 quadrillion Btu in 2035 in the AEO2011 Reference case, slightly lower than the 32.5 quadrillion Btu projected for 2035 in the AEO2010 Reference case.

Energy consumption for light-duty vehicles grows from 16.7 quadrillion Btu in 2009 to 18.4 quadrillion Btu in 2035 in the AEO2011, about the same as projected in the AEO2010 Reference case, as lower projections for vehicle-miles traveled are offset by relatively lower fuel economy improvements after CAFE standards applicable for model year 2020 are achieved.

Lower projected growth in light-duty vehicle travel demand (1.6% annually) is a result of the rate of economic recovery and prolonged high unemployment rates in the early part of the projection.

Energy demand for heavy trucks increases from 4.5 quadrillion Btu in 2009 to 6.7 quadrillion Btu in 2035, compared with 6.8 quadrillion Btu in the AEO2010 Reference case. Relatively lower projected industrial output leads to lower vehicle-miles traveled by freight trucks, more than offsetting the relatively lower projected fuel economy of heavy vehicles.

Biofuels fall short of the RFS goal in 2022, but exceed the 36 billion gallon RFS target by 2030.

Energy consumption for aircraft increases from 2.7 quadrillion Btu in 2009 to 3.1 quadrillion Btu in 2035 in the AEO2011 Reference case, lower than the 3.3 quadrillion Btu projected in the AEO2010 Reference case, due to relatively lower disposable personal income.

Other key findings of AEO2011 include:

  • Non-hydro renewables and natural gas are the fastest growing fuels used to generate electricity, but coal remains the dominant fuel because of the large amount of existing capacity. Coal remains the dominant energy source for electricity generation because of continued reliance on existing coal-fired plants. EIA is not projecting any new central station coal-fired power plants, however, beyond those already under construction or supported by clean coal incentives.

    The generation share from renewable resources increases from 11% in 2009 to 14% in 2035 in response to Federal tax credits in the near term and State requirements in the long term. Natural gas also plays a growing role due to lower natural gas prices and relatively low capital construction costs that make it more attractive than coal. The share of generation from natural gas increases from 23% in 2009 to 25% in 2035.

  • Industrial natural gas demand recovers, reversing recent trend. Industrial natural gas demand grows sharply in the near term from 7.3 trillion cubic feet in 2009 to 9.4 trillion cubic feet in 2020. This growth reverses the recent downward trend, as a result of a strong recovery in near-term industrial production, growth in combined heat and power, and relatively low natural gas prices.

  • World oil prices rise in the Reference case, as the world economy recovers and pressure from growth in global demand continues. In 2035, the average real price of crude oil in the Reference case is $125 per barrel in 2009 dollars. World liquids consumption grows from 83.7 million barrels per day in 2009 to 110.8 million barrels per day in 2035. Most of the growth is in non-OECD countries or regions, lead by China, India, and the Middle East.

  • In the AEO2011 Reference case, US natural gas consumption rises 16% from 22.7 trillion cubic feet in 2009 to 26.5 trillion cubic feet in 2035. The total in 2035 is about 1.6 trillion cubic feet higher than in the AEO2010 Reference case (24.9 trillion cubic feet).

  • US crude oil production increases from 5.4 million barrels per day in 2009 to 6.1 million barrels per day in 2019 and declines slightly from that level through 2035. Production increases come from onshore enhanced oil recovery projects and shale oil plays.

  • Aeo2011-2
    Imports of liquid fuels falls. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.
    Imports meet a major but declining share of total US energy demand. Projected demand for energy imports is moderated by increased use of domestically produced biofuels, demand reductions resulting from the adoption of efficiency standards, and rising energy prices. Rising fuel prices also spur domestic energy production across all fuels, which moderates growth in energy imports. The net import share of total US energy consumption in 2035 is 18%, compared with 24 percent in 2009.

The full AEO2011 report, including projections with differing assumptions on the price of oil, the rate of economic growth, and the characteristics of new technologies, will be released in Spring 2011, along with regional projections.

Resources

Comments

mahonj

They should try to get buses and trucks onto NatGas.
Once you have enough space for the tanks, it should be easy.
Especially urban buses as the pollution will be much lower than diesel.
And they might as well hybridize the city buses while they are at it.
Also, gas is useful for peaking plants to balance wind, if they ever get around to allowing it onshore in the US.
So a pretty rosy energy future for the US for the next 30 years anyhow.
On another note, the US will import 40% of its liquid fuel - how hard would it be to increase fuel economy 40% over say 20 years, IF you kept up the pressure with CAFE and a decent gas tax ?
That would give you 4-5 vehicle generations - 10% per generation would do it. Look what Ford have done with their SUVs.

Carl

...Especially urban buses as the pollution will be much lower than diesel....

That isn't apparent in the latest CARB certified emissions data. For example, the certified emissions from the NG and diesel versions of the same urban bus engine (8.9 liter) from the same manufacturer (Cummins) shows that except for slightly higher NOx emissions, the diesel version is actually lower across the board ( http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/mdehdehdv/2011/cummins_ub_a0210546_8d9_0d29-0d01.pdf , http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/mdehdehdv/2011/cummins_ub_a0210538_8d9_0d20-0d01_ng.pdf ).

NG would be a benefit as far as decreasing petroleum imports is concerned, but there doesn't appear to be any benefit from an emissions perspective. Diesel engines have become remarkably cleaner.

SJC

Sounds like we may have more than 100 years of natural gas even with increased consumption. Now if we can turn it into synthetic fuels more efficiently, we may have something.

ai_vin

The problem with this is that to get that much NG out of shale you have to use "fracking."

SJC

It would be good to use less natural gas by using solar thermal absorption cooling and PV. Enough saved there could be used to run cars, trucks and buses. Just leave as much fossil fuel in the ground as possible, it is not going anywhere.

danm

Thank you, ai_vin, for calling it a problem, as in ruining underground water sources.

SJC

I imagine that they can do it without polluting ground water, it is just easier not to care. The 2005 law exempted them from EPA, so they do what they want. If you fractured just enough to get the natural gas, it may not pollute water, but if you blast a lot you are sure to get the natural gas...no guess work.

Arne

The generation share from renewable resources increases from 11% in 2009 to 14% in 2035

That's a 3 percentage point increase in 26 years, or little over 0.1% per year.

US electricity consumption is 4000 TWh/year, so 0.1% of that is 4 TWh, which can be generated by about 2 GW of wind or 3 GW of solar power.

In 2009 10 GW of wind was installed, but a significant slowdown is expected this year, 6 - 8 GW. For 2011 and beyond, things don't look good, but 2 GW per year until 2035???? That is very, very, very, very pessimistic. And then solar power installations must stay at zero, and geothermal, and biomass to prevent the US from flying past this 14% number.

To put it in context:
Germany is currently expanding PV at the rate of 1 percentage point generation share per year. 8 GW this year, more than twice the growth the US would need to fulfill this projection. And that's just PV. They also do wind and biomass.

There is currently 4 GW of solar projects in the pipeline in California.

3PeaceSweet

There is a presentation here you can see a graph on pg 18 where the renewables growth rate slows right back down.

Also US coal production is showing higher tonnage but less BTU's due to lower quality coal being mined, this is likely to substantially increase the price of coal, as well as increasing fuel costs for distribution of the coal

I think the electricity generation by source will be split more evenly between gas, coal (~30% each) and renewables and nuclear (~20% each)

Also could they tell us where the 3 Saudi Arabia's worth of oil production are coming from?

globi

Anne,
Not to mention that China installed 29 GW of solar hot water capacity last year alone.
Apparently the US is according to the EIA probably not even capable to install the same capacity during the next 25 years. Given the downfall of the USD and the increasing oil price, one wonders how the US will be able to pay for all these future fuel imports?

HarveyD

USA will use whatever Farm-Oil-Coal lobbies and Flower Parties want it to use for energy. Oil lobbies may very well switch to NG and corn/farm lobbies may find a way to support SG.

The average American will not have much to say in the matter of energy.

SJC

With OFS FFVs by the 10s of millions on the road, people can vote with their dollars. An alternate fuel industry would have many potential customers. The customers can chose to continue to run gasoline at more than $4 per gallon or buy from fueling stations that offer alternatives. If they do not have those cars, they do not have that choice.

Henry Gibson

Diesel use can produce more global CO2 because of the refining process, but compression or liquification of natural gas can also release CO2 unless the electricity comes from nuclear power. Natural gas has much more energy per CO2 release than does diesel because of the higher Hydrogen concentration. ..HG..

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