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Shale Gas Resources in North America Estimated at 3.3 Qcf

Separate studies released in the last week by two respected Canadian firms, one of Western Canadian shale gas resources and another of the U.S. shale gas base have moved the tally of North American potential to a new plateau, beyond the trillions (Tcf) to 3.3 quadrillion cubic feet (Qcf), according to reports by Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI).

Calgary-based Sproule Associates, the oldest and still one of the biggest Canadian petroleum engineering and geology consulting firms, last week announced its survey of just five of 50 shale basins that have been identified in Western Canada produced a resource base estimate of between 809 and 2,222 Tcf or 2.2 Qcf.

A new analysis by ITG Investment Research, also based in Calgary, entitled "No More Guessing: Hardcore IV," shows the U.S. Lower 48 onshore has 1.1 Qcfe of recoverable resources across 450,000 drilling locations. While the total includes data from 37 U.S. shale plays, ITG estimates recoverable resources of 900 Tcfe in just 10 overlapping plays, compared to 426 Tcfe for those same plays as estimated in a recent study by the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

It all adds up to a potential of 3.3 Qcf. The review of Canadian resources by Sproule is more speculative because less confirming drilling and development has been done there. The report states that, "given the early stage of development and the relatively limited production data available for each of these plays, a range of outcomes is most appropriate because the level of uncertainty is high." The company's report was filed with Canada's National Energy Board in support of the biggest tanker export terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) proposed so far on the northern Pacific Coast of British Columbia: the LNG Canada project by Shell Canada and subsidiaries of Mitsubishi Corp., Korea Gas Corp. and PetroChina Investment.

While the two studies used different methodologies, combining them gives a rough total of the shale resources available in the northern two-thirds of North America.

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