IEA lauds unconventional gas reserves

Jan. 19, 2011 at 8:38 AM

PARIS, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Supplies of natural gas could last more than 250 years if Asian and European economies follow the U.S. unconventional reserves, the IEA said.

The abundance of shale gas and other forms of so-called unconventional gas discovered in the United States prompted a global rush to explore for the new resource.

The International Energy Agency said Australia is taking the lead in the push toward unconventional gas, though China, India and Indonesia are close behind. European companies are taking preliminary steps to unlock unconventional gas as are other regions.

"Production of 'unconventional' gas in the U.S. has rocketed in the past few years, going beyond even the most optimistic forecasts," said Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a gas analyst at the IEA. "It is no wonder that its success has sparked such international interest."

Shale gas production in the United States is booming and the IEA estimates that unconventional gas makes up around 12 percent of the global supply.

Global supplies of natural gas could last for another 130 years at current consumption rates. That time frame could double with unconventional gas, the IEA said.

"(D)espite the many uncertainties associated with production, countries are still prepared to take risks and invest time and money in exploration and production, because of the potential long-term benefits," Corbeau said.

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