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Natural gas explained How much natural gas is left

Underground reservoirs hold oil and natural gas

A natural gas reservoir is a location where large volumes of natural gas are trapped in the subsurface of the earth. These reservoirs are composed of porous and permeable rocks that can hold significant amounts of natural gas confined by impermeable rock or water barriers.

What are proved reserves?

Proved reserves of natural gas are volumes of natural gas that analyses of geological and engineering data demonstrate to be recoverable under existing economic and operating conditions. Proved reserves could increase each year with additional successful exploratory wells and as more is learned about fields where current wells are producing natural gas. New technologies and increases in prices for natural gas can change previously uneconomic natural gas resources into proved reserves. Because they depend on economic factors, proved reserves shrink or grow with changes in natural gas prices and production costs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) bases its estimates of proved reserves on an annual survey of domestic oil and natural gas well operators.

How large are U.S. proved natural gas reserves?

U.S. proved reserves of natural gas increased nearly every year since 2000. Major advances in natural gas exploration and production technologies contributed to the increases. In 2018, U.S. total natural gas proved reserves, estimated as wet gas—which includes hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL)—reached a record high of nearly 505 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The dry natural gas portion of these reserves (after removal of HGL) was about 475 Tcf, also a record high. Declines in natural gas prices in 2012 and 2015 contributed to reductions in proved reserves estimates in those years, while stronger natural gas prices contributed to increases in estimates of natural gas proved reserves in 2017 and 2018.

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What are undiscovered technically recoverable resources?

In addition to the proved natural gas reserves, large volumes of natural gas are classified as undiscovered—or unprovedtechnically recoverable resources (TRR). Undiscovered TRR are expected to exist because the geologic settings are favorable despite the uncertainty of their specific locations. Undiscovered TRR are also assumed to be producible over a time period using existing recovery technology. EIA estimates in the Annual Energy Outlook 2019 that as of January 1, 2017, the United States had about 2,459 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of TRR of dry natural gas.

Last updated: December 18, 2019