New EIA report boosts estimates of global recoverable shale oil resources 10-fold to 345 billion barrels
|Map of basins with assessed shale oil and shale gas formations, as of May 2013. Source: US EIA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released a new report that estimates that shale oil and shale gas resources in the United States and in 137 shale formations in 41 other countries represent 10% of the world’s crude oil and 32% of the world’s natural gas technically recoverable resources—i.e., those that can be produced using current technology without reference to economic profitability.
Among the highlights in the 2013 report is a 10-fold increase in the estimate of technically recoverable shale / tight oil from 32 billion barrels (from the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2011) to 345 billion barrels. The report also estimates technically recoverable shale gas resources of 7,299 trillion cubic feet—10% higher than an estimate in an earlier 2011 report on recoverable shale gas resources.
|Although the terms shale oil and tight oil are often used interchangeably in public discourse, shale formations are only a subset of all low permeability tight formations, which include sandstones and carbonates, as well as shales, as sources of tight oil production.|
|Within the US, industry typically refers to tight oil production rather than shale oil production, because it is a more encompassing and accurate term with respect to the geologic formations producing oil at any particular well.|
|EIA has adopted this convention, and develops estimates of tight oil production and resources in the United States that include, but are not limited to, production from shale formations. The ARI assessment of shale formations looks exclusively at shale resources and does not consider other types of tight formations.|
EIA commissioned Advanced Resources International, Inc. (ARI) to conduct the new world shale resource assessment because shale oil production has become a significant source of oil supply within the United States and because more and better geologic information has become available for shale formations located outside the United States.
The earlier EIA/ARI study from 2011 stimulated new work on shales in many countries (e.g., Algeria, Argentina, and Mexico), providing significantly more data for the 2013 study, EIA said.
The agency gave two reasons for pursuing an updated assessment of shale resources so soon after the prior report.
Geologic research and well drilling results not available for use in the 2011 report allow for a more informed evaluation of the shale formations covered in that report as well as other shale formations that it did not assess.
While the 2011 report focused exclusively on natural gas, recent developments in the United States highlight the role of shale formations and other tight plays as sources of crude oil, lease condensates, and a variety of liquids processed from wet natural gas.
The EIA noted that the growth in tight oil production shows how important shale oil production has become in the United States. US tight oil production increased from an average 0.2 million barrels per day in 2000 to an average of 1.9 million barrels per day in 2012 for 10 select formations. The growth in tight oil production has been so rapid that US tight oil production was estimated to have reached 2.2 million barrels per day in December 2012. Although EIA has not published tight oil proved reserves, EIA’s current estimate of unproved US tight oil resources is 58 billion barrels.
More than half of the identified shale oil resources outside the United States are concentrated in four countries—Russia, China, Argentina and Libya—while more than half of the non-US shale gas resources are concentrated in five countries: China, Argentina, Algeria, Canada, and Mexico.