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Welcome to the Age of Natural Gas

July 17, 2015

“The United States possesses a total technically recoverable resource base of 2,515 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas as of year-end 2014.”

This is the highest resource evaluation by the Potential Gas Committee in its 50-year history.

The reserves would last over 100 years if new uses weren’t added to current uses.

An earlier article published the results of my analysis of whether new uses and export of natural gas would significantly diminish these reserves.

Here is the impact of major new uses.

If the U.S.:

  • Converts 50% of its coal power plants to NG it will use an additional 5.3 Tcf
  • Exports LNG from all proposed 19 terminals it will use an additional 10.4 Tcf
  • Converts 100% of long haul trucks to NG it will use an additional 7.3 Tcf

Including these annual additional uses results in the U.S. having a 50+ year supply of natural gas.

But this is a static picture of recoverable natural gas reserves.

It’s merely a snapshot in time.

Historically, recoverable reserves have increased yearly as the result of new technologies being used to extract oil and gas form the ground.

There is no reason to believe that this technological process will change in the future.

In fact, new fracking techniques are already increasing how much oil and natural gas can be extracted from any shale formation.

This will mean that recoverable reserves will increase each year into the future, for an unknown number of years.

It could easily mean we have natural gas reserves that will last beyond this century, probably for an additional one or two hundred years, and possibly for a 1,000 years.

Unquestionably, shale gas will be extracted from shale formations around the world, including Argentina, the UK and China.

And this is before we begin to extract natural gas from methane hydrates, which could provide natural gas for an additional thousand years for countries around the world.

Table 1 depicts the available methane hydrates on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS), which is a fraction of methane hydrates available worldwide.

Methane Hydrates on US OCS


In-place Gas Hydrate Resources

Atlantic OCS

21,702 Tcf

Gulf of Mexico OCS

21,444 Tcf

West Coast OCS

  8,192 Tcf


51,338 Tcf

From Bureau of Ocean Energy Management


The age of coal will not immediately go away. Huge reserves of cheap coal remain in many countries, including Indonesia, India and China. Worldwide usage of energy sources is forecast in Figure 5 of the EIA International Energy Outlook.

Graph from EIA, 2013

Graph from EIA, 2013


On their current trajectories, natural gas will surpass the use of coal this century.

Natural gas is clean, has virtually no negative health effects, and will become cheaper as the shale revolution grows.

Expensive and unreliable wind and solar will be eclipsed by natural gas.

The world will benefit, and the poorest people in the poorest of countries will benefit from the age of natural gas.


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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2015 1:54 pm

    Thank you for doing the research. I just read in a trade magazine that China is currently using twice as much coal as the USA and new, clean coal plants like AEP’s Turk would certainly lift many people from poverty. Especially in China, India, Africa and South America. For the USA, I suspect problems in cold weather because of pipeline capacities and the competing home heating and power generation demands coming the same time. Natural gas fueled power generation is not a problem in the summer but could be if we get another Polar Vortex as we did in 2014. All things considered, I believe a Balanced Portfolio of Gas, Coal, Nuclear and Renewables is best for the USA. Regrettably, using traditional fuels in a balanced portfolio is not government policy.

    • July 17, 2015 2:03 pm

      I agree 100%. Thanks for your comment. It’s true that New England has had problems with NG pipeline capacity during the winter. Amazingly, people are objecting to the construction of new natural gas pipelines.

  2. July 17, 2015 2:18 pm

    The National Coal Council report of May 2014 had some good facts of the power problems during the January 2014 Polar Vortex. If you wish more background check the NCC website at
    I once had difficulty accessing the report. If you can’t get it from the web, let me know. I saved a pdf I could send to you. Key point in New England, Jan 2014. They burned more “Jet Fuel” for power than coal. That certainly does not bode well for affordable electricity. Thanks again for your insight, research and sharing. Dick Storm

    • July 17, 2015 2:55 pm

      I’ll try to get the report you mentioned. If it’s not available, I’ll get in touch with you.
      Many thanks.

  3. Catcracking permalink
    July 17, 2015 7:48 pm

    Excellent article. I don’t think many realize the magnitude of the natural gas reserves and the positive impact it has already had on our economy and the potential it has to further grow our economy. It is a shame that the administration an many states don’t realize the full potential and support the production.
    I have been consulting with one large chemical company for quite a few years and earlier on I was told they would never build another plant in the US. Obviously that has changed dramatically with the abundance and price of Natural gas due to fracking.
    Why do so many of the liberals politicians hate fracking and make up all kinds of environmental excuses to kill the gooses that lays the golden egg.

  4. Catcracking permalink
    July 17, 2015 11:34 pm

    Some additional info on Government regulations to restrict (kill?) fracking.
    As I read this the government is asking for more time to respond to the questions?
    Sounds like they did not work out a good technical basis before issuing their rules.
    Typical, they are having a bad batting average in court lately because they gon’t have a valid basis for their mandates as recently shown in the recent ruling on coal.

    “WASHINGTON — New rules for oil and gas drilling on federally managed land won’t take effect until September at the earliest, under a court decision Thursday.

    Federal District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl had already decided to temporarily stay the Interior Department rule while he waits for more information from the government and weighs an oil industry request for a longer-term injunction blocking the drilling mandates.

    Read more: Judge stays federal oil and gas rules

    But the administration asked for more time — until Aug. 28 — to provide details on how the rule was developed, and on Thursday, the court granted the motion.

    That extends the deferral of the rule and sets up a possible decision on a full injunction in early September.

    Oil industry trade groups, who are challenging the drilling rules, praised the move. Neal Kirby, a spokesman for one of the challengers, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, called it “welcome news.”

    “The government’s request proves there is no urgent reason to immediately implement the final rule before the court has adequate opportunity to resolve a number of important and legitimate legal questions,” Kirby said.

    The rule, which was set to take effect in June, imposes new requirements for constructing wells on federally managed lands and storing waste water from the sites. The Bureau of Land Management measure also would force oil companies to disclose the chemicals they pump underground in hydraulic fracturing operations that stimulate the wells into production”.

    More info at the website

    The only thing that can stop hydraulic fracturing is a bad government.

    • July 18, 2015 8:42 am

      Thanks for both your comments. As you are already aware, liberals hate fracking because of their war on fossil fuels and their maniacal belief that CO2 is causing climate change.

  5. July 20, 2015 1:26 pm

    Reblogged this on SMIPP Ltd..


  1. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #188 | Watts Up With That?

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