released 21 Dec 2015
NORTH TEXAS – Finally, some good news for local oil & gas producers: The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) now estimates that the Barnett Shale – where the “fracking” boom was born – holds almost twice as much recoverable natural gas than their last estimate 12 years ago.
In 2003, when the USGS last issued its assessment of how much undiscovered natural gas and natural gas liquids are beneath the Barnett Shale, they relied on estimates of gas recovered through vertical drilling. Since then, the industry has switched primarily to horizontal drilling paired with hydraulic fracturing (commonly called “fracking”) to recover gas from the Barnett Shale geologic formation.
The USGS in 2003 estimated the Barnett Shale held 26.2 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas and 1.0 billion barrels of undiscovered natural gas liquids.
Today the USGS estimates the Barnett shale holds 53 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas, 175 million barrels of natural gas liquid and 172 million barrels of shale oil. The agency did not assess potential oil resources back in 2003.
Since 2003, more than 16,000 horizontal wells have been drilled into the formation. Those wells have helped produce more than 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 59 million barrels of oil in the Barnett.
The bad news – of course – is the price for which those commodities are selling. A worldwide glut of oil has dropped prices below $35 a barrel. Mild winter forecasts and a larger-than-expected supply of natural gas has sent futures lower for the seventh straight session.
Producers and mineral rights owners can at least take comfort in knowing there’s more oil and gas below us as to help ride out the downturn – however long it lasts.