By: Laura Legere (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
The Utica Shale and associated hydrocarbon-rich rock zones hold significantly more potentially recoverable natural gas than early estimates predicted, according to research released Tuesday at a workshop in Canonsburg.
It turns out, according to the new study’s estimates, the total Utica Shale play could hold technically recoverable volumes of 782 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and nearly 2 billion barrels of oil.
The estimates from a research partnership organized by West Virginia University represent the average of a wider range of possibly recoverable amounts of oil and gas in the Utica, which stretches beneath parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states and includes neighboring oil- and gas-bearing geologic layers.
A 2012 U.S. Geological Survey assessment of the Utica Shale and underlying Point Pleasant formation pegged the technically recoverable undiscovered resources at 38 trillion cubic feet of gas, 940 million barrels of oil and 208 million barrels of natural gas liquids such as ethane, butane and propane.
The new assessment is also higher than estimates the researchers had calculated a year ago, when they determined that 188.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 830 million barrels of oil could be extracted from the Utica play using existing technology. Those year-old numbers also were released publicly for the first time Tuesday.
The research partnership organized by WVU includes members from oil and gas companies, the U.S. Geological Survey and four state geological surveys, universities, a consulting company and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
It was sponsored by NETL and 14 industry partners.
The project was spearheaded by Doug Patchen, director of the Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium at WVU, who said the first version of the study was released to the industry partners last year and kept confidential.