New report by US energy department raises oil and gas reserves 35 per cent

Reserves of oil and gas that can be developed using current technology were 35 per cent higher in 2013 than in 2011, according to a new report by the US  Energy Information Administration, the research branch of the Energy Department.

The increase in estimated domestic reserves to 223 billion barrels of oil equivalents, which includes crude oil and gas, was largely due to the inclusion of reserves found in shale formations. Increased use of production methods including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, had made oil and gas trapped in tight geological formations economically recoverable.

The US is second to Russia as regards the  amount of technically recoverable barrels of shale oil, at 58 billion and is fourth among countries with reserves of technically recoverable shale gas at 665 trillion cubic feet. China with shale gas reserves at 1,115 trillion cubic feet led the rest.

According to The Energy Information Administration, ''32 per cent of the total estimated natural gas resources are in shale formations, while 10 per cent of estimated oil resources are in shale or tight formations.''

EIA administrator Adam Sieminski said today's report indicated a significant potential for international shale oil and shale gas, though the extent to which technically recoverable shale resources would prove to be economically recoverable was not yet clear.

The report said reserves of oil in shale rock deposits would boost total world crude resources by 11 per cent. The report offered a preliminary glimpse of the hydrocarbons that remained untapped across the world.

In the first study of its kind by the US government, the EIA estimated technically recoverable shale oil reserves in 41 countries at 345 billion barrels.

Earlier EIA reports only included US shale oil resources, which had been estimated in 2011 at 32 billion barrels.

Meanwhile, global shale gas reserves were up at 7,299 trillion cubic feet, from 6,622 tcf estimated in 2011, according to the EIA.

The amount of oil or gas recoverable with today's technology is termed technically recoverable reserves.

Russia was at the top of the list with oil reserves, at 75 billion barrels, ahead of the US with 48 billion, China with 32 billion and Argentina with 27 billion barrels, according to an assessment prepared for the EIA by Advanced Resources International (ARI).

According to ARI, US' technically recoverable shale oil resources were at 48 billion barrels, 10 billion less than the EIA's estimate.   

The US, with 1,161 tcf, had the largest reserves of natural gas, according to ARI, ahead of China with 1,115, Argentina with 802 tcf and Algeria with 707 tcf.

Algeria's estimate had more than tripled from the 231 tcf estimated in 2011.