The Utica Shale contains about 38 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas (at the mean estimate) according to the first assessment of this continuous (unconventional) natural gas accumulation by the U. S. Geological Survey.
The Utica Shale has a mean of 940 million barrels of unconventional oil resources and a mean of 9 million barrels of unconventional natural gas liquids.
The Utica Shale lies beneath the Marcellus Shale, and both are part of the Appalachian Basin, which is the longest-producing petroleum province in the United States. The Marcellus Shale, at 84 TCF of natural gas, is the largest unconventional gas basin USGS has assessed. This is followed closely by the Greater Green River Basin in southwestern Wyoming, which has 84 TCF of undiscovered natural gas, of which 82 TCF is continuous (tight gas).
“Understanding our domestic oil and gas resource potential is important, which is why we assess emerging plays like the Utica, as well as areas that have been in production for some time” said Brenda Pierce, USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator. “Publicly available information about undiscovered oil and gas resources can aid policy makers and resource managers, and inform the debate about resource development.”
The Utica Shale assessment covered areas in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Some shale rock formations, like the Utica and Marcellus, can be source rocks – those formations from which hydrocarbons, such as oil and gas, originate. Conventional oil and gas resources gradually migrate away from the source rock into other formations and traps, whereas continuous resources, such as shale oil and shale gas, remain trapped within the original source rock.
These new estimates are for technically recoverable oil and gas resources, which are those quantities of oil and gas producible using currently available technology and industry practices, regardless of economic or accessibility considerations.
This USGS assessment is an estimate of continuous oil, gas, and natural gas liquid accumulations in the Upper Ordovician Utica Shale of the Appalachian Basin. The estimate of undiscovered oil ranges from 590 million barrels to 1.39 billion barrels (95 percent to 5 percent probability, respectively), natural gas ranges from 21 to 61 TCF (95 percent to 5 percent probability, respectively), and the estimate of natural gas liquids ranges from 4 to 16 million barrels (95 percent to 5 percent probability, respectively).
USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources of onshore lands and offshore state waters. The USGS Utica Shale assessment was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released two nationwide resource assessments showing that waves and tidal currents off the nation’s coasts could contribute significantly to the United States’ total annual electricity production, further diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, and provide clean, renewable energy to coastal cities and communities.
These new wave and tidal resource assessments, combined with ongoing analyses of the technologies and other resource assessments, show that water power, including conventional hydropower and wave, tidal, and other water power resources, can potentially provide 15% of our nation’s electricity by 2030. The reports represent the most rigorous analysis undertaken to date to accurately define the magnitude and location of America’s ocean energy resources. The information in these resource assessments can help to further develop the country’s significant ocean energy resources, create new industries and new jobs in America, and secure U.S. leadership in an emerging global market.
The United States uses about 4,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. DOE estimates that the maximum theoretical electric generation that could be produced from waves and tidal currents is approximately 1,420 TWh per year, approximately one-third of the nation’s total annual electricity usage. Although not all of the resource potential identified in these assessments can realistically be developed, the results still represent major opportunities for new water power development in the United States, highlighting specific opportunities to expand on the 6% of the nation’s electricity already generated from renewable hydropower resources.
The two reports—”Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource” and “Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States”—calculate the maximum kinetic energy available from waves and tides off U.S. coasts that could be used for future energy production, and which represent largely untapped opportunities for renewable energy development in the United States.
The West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, has especially high potential for wave energy development, while significant opportunities for wave energy also exist along the East Coast. Additionally, parts of both the West and East Coasts have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.
Earlier this year, DOE announced the availability of its national tidal resource database, which maps the maximum theoretically available energy in the nation’s tidal streams. This database contributed to the “Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States” report, prepared by Georgia Tech.
The wave energy assessment report, titled “Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource,” was prepared by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), with support and data validation from researchers at Virginia Tech and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The report describes the methods used to produce geospatial data and to map the average annual and monthly significant wave height, wave energy period, mean direction, and wave power density in the coastal United States. NREL incorporated the data into a new marine and hydrokinetic energy section in their U.S. Renewable Resource atlas.
In addition to the wave and tidal resource assessments released , DOE plans to release additional resource assessments for ocean current, ocean thermal gradients, and new hydropower resources in 2012. To support the development of technologies that can tap into these vast water power resources, DOE’s Water Power Program is undertaking a detailed technical and economic assessment of a wide range of water power technologies in order to more accurately predict the opportunities and costs of developing and deploying these innovative technologies. The Program is currently sponsoring over 40 demonstration projects that will advance the commercial readiness of these systems, provide first-of-a-kind, in-water performance data that will validate cost-of-energy predictions, and identify pathways for large cost reductions.
These resource assessments, techno-economic assessments, and technology demonstration projects are critical elements of DOE’s strategy to capture the very real opportunities associated with water power development, and to further define the path to supplying 15% of the nation’s electricity through water power technologies.
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. DOE’s Water Power Program is paving the way for industry and government to make sound investment and policy decisions about the deployment of renewable water power technologies by quantifying the nation’s theoretically available water power resources.
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