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Report casts doubt on shale gas reserve estimates

Technically recoverable reserves of shale gas may be half as large as those for conventional gas, according to a report prepared for the European Commission.

However the reports states that there are major uncertainties in the estimates of these reserves, even in regions where development is relatively advanced.

And the report claims that the majority of previous shale gas studies fail to address this uncertainty, thereby causing “considerable difficulties in comparing and combining estimates”.

European Shale

While shale gas had transformed the US energy market, the report states that it is unclear whether this “growth can be maintained or reproduced in other areas of the world”.

“Even in the US, estimates of recoverable resources are contested and are frequently the subject of radical revisions,” it states. “But this is eclipsed by the much greater uncertainty surrounding unconventional gas resources in the rest of the world.”

The authors said: “Claims that shale gas will last for decades deserve much more careful scrutiny. While the resource is clearly very large, there is still an enormous amount of uncertainty, even in areas where production is well established. The evolving experience in the United States needs to be watched very closely to see if shale gas lives up to expectations.”

The report concludes that “given the absence of production experience in most parts of the world, and the number and magnitude of uncertainties that currently exist, estimates of recoverable shale gas resources should be treated with considerable caution.”

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