A new study sponsored by EIA (Energy Information Administration) regarding the abudance of technically recoverable shale oil and gas, or those that can be produced using current technology without reference to economic profitability outside the U.S. and Canada, released yesterday June 10 (Table 1).
Unlike an earlier EIA-sponsored study that focused exclusively on natural gas, the new world shale assessment includes shale oil, which has recently been produced in significant volumes in the United States. In addition, more and better geologic information has become available for shale formations located outside the United States, in part because the earlier report stimulated new work on shale resources in many countries (e.g., Algeria, Argentina, and Mexico).
More than half of the identified shale oil resources outside the United States are concentrated in four countries. First comes Russia, which seems to be the one sits on the most “technically recoverable” shale oil reserves — 75 billion barrels while U.S. comes second with 58 barrels. China, Argentina, and Libya complete the list of the top5 with 32,27 and 26 barrels respectively (Tables 2).
Regarding the quantities of technically recoverable shale gas, more than half of the non-U.S. shale gas resources are concentrated in five countries: China, Argentina, Algeria, Canada, and Mexico. China is the “winner” with 1.115 trillions cubic feet, while Argentina, Algeria, Canada, and Mexico concentrate 802, 707,573 and 545 trillions cubic feet of shale gas respectively (Table 3). All told, the EIA estimated resources of 345 billion barrels of shale oil worldwide, and 7.3 quadrillion cubic feet of shale gas.
Even if the resource estimates prove to be in the ballpark, there’s no telling whether it will make economic sense to go after them in every country.
“The market impact of shale resources outside the United States will depend on their own production costs and volumes,” the EIA said. “A potential shale well that costs twice as much and produces half the output of a typical U.S. well would be unlikely to back out current supply sources of oil or natural gas.”
Shale oil provided 29% of total U.S. crude-oil production and 40% of total natural-gas production last year, the EIA said.