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USGS releases Utica Shale reserves estimate


The U.S. Geological Survey released its first reserves estimate for the Utica Shale last week.

The federal agency estimates that the Utica holds about 38 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas and 940 million barrels of oil.

According to the USGS press release:

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).

Development of the Utica Shale deposits wouldbring the industry further upstate than is likely if only the Marcellus Shale is developed.

The Utica sits below the Marcellus and the two are part of the Appalachian Basin. The New York section of the Utica contains natural gas. Oil deposits are found mostly in Ohio, according to the USGS.

The Marcellus, with estimated reserves of 84 trillion cubic feet of gas, is the richest shale deposit in the U.S.

According tothe Associated Press, drillers have only just begun moving into the Utica Shale and some expect the reserves estimates to increase once production ramps up:

Drillers are just beginning to tap into the deeper Utica. Pennsylvania and Ohio have issued 452 Utica well permits to date, and 178 wells have been drilled, according to the most recent state data. The geological survey's Utica estimate covered parts of Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Such estimates are highly variable and subject to revision. The USGS estimated last year that the eight-state Marcellus region contains some 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, recoverable natural gas, far more than its 2002 assessment of just 2 trillion.

WSKG/Southern Tier reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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