EIA projects huge growth in U.S. shale

Dec. 17, 2010 at 7:29 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- New information gleaned from drilling activity in the United States reveals shale gas reserves are about twice as abundant as previously thought, the EIA said.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency said in its 2011 outlook that it projects technically recoverable unproven shale gas reserves sit at 827 trillion cubic feet, 474 trillion cf larger than the previous year's outlook.

Shale deposits are considered an emerging energy resource for the United States. T. Boone Pickens, a Texas oil magnate, said abundant gas reserves in the United States made the country the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas."

U.S. consumers by 2035 are projected to rely on imports to meet 18 percent of their energy demands compared with 24 percent in 2009, the EIA said. This is moderated, the agency said, by increased use of domestic biofuels, rising energy prices and better efficiency standards.

Renewable energy resources and natural gas are the fastest growing fuels for electricity, though coal remains the dominant source of energy for electricity in the United States.

This, the EIA said in its outlook, in part suggests carbon dioxide emissions should grow slowly but won't return to their 2005 highs until 2027.

"Our reference case projection shows the growing importance of natural gas from domestic shale gas resources in meeting U.S. energy demand and lowering natural gas prices," said EIA Administrator Richard Newell in a statement. "Energy efficiency improvements and the increased use of renewables are other key factors that moderate the projected growth in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions."

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