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Frequently Asked Questions

How much natural gas does the United States have, and how long will it last?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates in the Annual Energy Outlook 2019 that as of January 1, 2017, there were about 2,459 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable resources (TRR) of dry natural gas in the United States. Assuming the same annual rate of U.S. dry natural gas production in 2018 of about 30.4 Tcf, the United States has enough dry natural gas to last about 80 years. The actual number of years the TRR will last depends on the actual amount of dry natural gas produced and on changes in natural gas TRR in future years.

Technically recoverable reserves include proved reserves and unproved resources. Proved reserves of crude oil and natural gas are the estimated volumes expected to be produced, with reasonable certainty, under existing economic and operating conditions. Unproved resources of crude oil and natural gas are additional volumes estimated to be technically recoverable without consideration of economics or operating conditions, based on the application of current technology. EIA estimates that as of January 1, 2017, the United States had about 322 Tcf of proved reserves and 2,137 Tcf of unproved reserves of dry natural gas.

Estimates of TRR are highly uncertain, particularly in emerging plays where relatively few wells have been drilled. Early estimates tend to vary and shift significantly over time as new geological information is gained through additional drilling, as long-term productivity is clarified for existing wells, and as the productivity of new wells increases with technology improvements and better management practices. TRR estimates used by EIA for each Annual Energy Outlook are based on the latest available well production data and on information from other federal and state governmental agencies, industry, and academia.

Learn more:
Table 2. Technically recoverable U.S. dry natural gas resources as of January 1, 2017
U.S. historical dry natural gas production
Annual Energy Outlook, Reference case projections for U.S. annual dry natural gas production out to 2050
Energy Explained: How Much Natural Gas Is Left?
Oil and natural gas resource categories reflect varying degrees of certainty
Geology and technology drive estimates of technically recoverable resources
Annual Energy Outlook 2016: Ample natural gas supply is adequate to meet growth in both export and domestic markets
Articles on reserves

Last updated: April 5, 2019


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