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It’s No Ponzi Scheme: Barnett Shale Field Will Produce Nearly 1 Trillion Cubic Feet In 2030

John Hanger's Facts of the Day

A new study that looks at the individual production of 16,000 shale gas wells drilled through mid-2011 in the Barnett shale gas field constitutes a hail of nails in the coffin of the claim that shale gas is a Ponzi scheme. The study finds that the Barnett, the grandfather of shale gas fields, will still be producing in 2030 900 billion cubic feet or about 4% of 2012’s record US production. That is still lots of gas seventeen years from now.

Indeed, the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at the University of Texas finds that the Barnett will produce another 44 trillion cubic feet, as it slowly declines from its peak production of 2 trillion cubic feet in 2011.  And the BEG analysis assumes a modest gas price of just $4 to get that amount of production. Presumably, had the study assumed an average price of $6, the projected production levels would have been even higher.

BEG also states that it is doing a similar well-by-well study of the Marcellus where BEG will likely confirm that the Marcellus has decades, even generations, of large production volumes ahead, even if one assumes a low long-term average price of $4.

Hopefully, the combination of the enormous actual shale production numbers that have now been facts for 10 or more years and increasingly authoritative reserve studies, like BEG’s, will end the Ponzi scheme narrative.  That narrative has been used to mislead good people. Like it or not, there are massive amounts of shale gas that can be produced even at low, long-term average prices of $4 to $6 per thousand cubic feet.

John Hanger’s Facts of the Day, 4 March 2013