The importance  of the US Energy Information Administration's report on World Shale Gas Resources cannot be understated.  Paradigm shifting, game changing, even mind-boggling doesn't do justice to the revelations in this report.  It's hard to know where to begin, and at 365 pages I haven't even begun to go beneath these mind-blowing figures. But they are astounding. As I've said a number of times:  Shale gas doesn't change everything,  it's much more important than that.

But there's one little adjective here that succinctly describes world shale gas resources: Vast. Let's go back to  the thesaurus so we can let this soak in; the world's energy reserves are now officially:

 huge, extensive, expansive, broad, wide, sweeping, boundless, immeasurable, limitless, infinite; enormous, immense, great, massive, colossal, tremendous, mighty, prodigious, gigantic, gargantuan, mammoth, monumental; giant, towering, mountainous, titanic, Brobdingnagian; informal jumbo, mega, monster, whopping, humongous, astronomical, ginormous. ANTONYMS tiny.

Although the shale gas resource estimates will likely change over time as additional information becomes available, the report shows that the international shale gas resource base is vast. The initial estimate of technically recoverable shale gas resources in the 32 countries examined is 5,760 trillion cubic feet, as shown in Table 1. Adding the U.S. estimate of the shale gas technically recoverable resources of 862 trillion cubic feet results in a total shale resource base estimate of 6,622 trillion cubic feet for the United States and the other 32 countries assessed. To put this shale gas resource estimate in some perspective, world proven reserves of natural gas as of January 1, 2010 are about 6,609 trillion cubic feet, and world technically recoverable gas resources are roughly 16,000 trillion cubic feet,largely excluding shale gas. Thus, adding the identified shale gas resources to other gas resources increases total world technically recoverable gas resources by over 40 percent to 22,600 trillion cubic feet.

Basically adding shale adds 40 per cent to world gas resources, not far off the US Potential Gas Committee report of 2009 figures for US shale resources. Which now seem conservative, but who is going to quibble?

Great map here before we go on to the main event;


This is the table which changes the world.  Remember these are technically recoverable.  They stem from a study of 32 countries. So they don't include such obvious gas monsters such as Russia and Indonesia. But look who has shale. Everyone.  All of us. Energy shortage? No Thanks! Non Merci! Nein Danke!


In Europe the WOW moment has to be France. Incroyable doesn't even start  to describe it. What would be incroyable is if France says they want to leave it in the ground.  We always knew about Poland, but check out Denmark and Ukraine. As for the UK,  let's put that in perspective: 20 TCF sounds small compared to the the triple digit numbers here. But 20 TCF, which I can assure you is an understatement, is merely double the current UK North Seas reserves.

And surprise, surprise: China! Largest shale reserves in the world, surpassing even the US by far. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The only way I have been wrong about shale is by underestimating it's impact. But the Chinese figures change everything. World LNG? Toast! Which can't help Australia too much even with 395. Which leads to the other southern hemisphere wonders, although since this site mentioned them both in Q3 2009, it's only the massive scale of the resource that surprises, not the locations:

South Africa  485!

Argentina 774!  Repeat that.  That is not a mistake.  That is technicially recoverable.  That is astounding.

On any other day, the revelation that Algeria had 231 TCF of shale would change the entire world energy equation.  That makes Algeria as big a potential LNG exporter as Qatar for example.

But  we don't even have Middle East figures.  Who knows how much shale could be under Saudi, Oman or Iraq.  But you know what?  Who needs to know about that anymore.

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  • We have to shift transportation to gas.<br /><br />Start with dual fuel diesel-CNG trucks......move to other vehicles later.....

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  • WOW!<br /><br />if THIS won't drag the curve down, then nothign will :-)

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  • Nothing probably will. The problem with the UK curve is all the Industrial and Commercial idiot clients I used to advise who simultaneously wanted the cheapest gas price and budget certainty. What is certain in business? But still they lined up lambs for the slaughter for their one or three year energy price.<br />I know a paper company, 20 million therms that the moron bought 3 years at in 2008. Figured it cost him 17 million the first year and twelve the second and 8 the third. But still he has a job!<br /><br />The curve, and everything else came down today. But it 21 degrees in London so that explains that. <br /><br />Gas traders are nice people:-)<br />but they have the attention span of a mentally challenged wasp. Next week is long term for most of them!

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  • John Turner

    The 40% increase in total gas reserves is no different to the effect of the green revolution; it pushes back the eventual day of reckoning but that day still arrives at some time in the future . All fossil based carbon is depleting and not being replaced. What will the population then existing do to obtain fertilizer, chemical feedstock and metallurgical reducing agents?<br />At least thorium fueled nuclear generation , for all electricity, has fuel reserves for many millennia, not 50-100 years or so.

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  • The true carbon crime is to keep on using coal instead of gas. Gas can be a bridge fuel to a world where things like thorium reactors are possible. When they actually invent them at an environmental and economic cost, sign me up. <br /><br />I think rejecting shale on the grounds it might only last 100 years is a bit strange. Quite apart from the fact that energy has been predicted to run out and never actually does, I really think that someone may come up with something, probably more like thorium, in far less than 100 years.

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  • Don't forget though, that Chernobyl and Fukushima have essentially killed the chances of new nuclear power construction for the forseeable future. If the greens wanted cheap non-carbon based energy, then nuclear was it. The alternatives simply don' t cut it - wind for exmaple, is totally unsuited as base load, hence, can only ever be a side-show to major generation.<br />Perhaps by the time shale gas reserves are consumed, two things will have happened :- <br /><br />a) nuclear power will be cheaper to construct, safer, and give faster ROI<br />b) people will have forgotten about the two biggest nuclear disasters<br /><br />oh, and there's a <br /><br />c) nuclear power plants will be constructed on a "safety first" basis - which competitive capitalism can't do. Do I need to explain this?

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  • At some point this should surely impact UK energy policy, especially in the light of the recent Stuart Young report (for the John Muir Trust) which concludes that "wind power is not what it's cracked up to be", and of course the new alarms (justified or not) over nuclear. <br /><br />Ah well, the news will eventually percolate through to our leaders, no doubt. I've read that Chris Huhne actually mentioned shale gas in last month's speech to CPRE, which means he's heard of it, so that's perhaps not entirely discouraging.

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