Gas depletion

Gas depletion

Gas depletion is the inescapable result of extracting and consuming natural gas since it is a nonrenewable natural resource. The number of years of natural gas left is estimated by the ratio of proven natural gas reserves to the current consumption rate.


Depletion date

According to the Energy Information Agency,[1] the world in 2005 had about 60 years[2] of natural gas left. However, the relevance of worldwide figures is questioned since unlike oil relatively little gas is shipped across the oceans. If one compares proven North American reserves versus North American consumption, one gets only 11 years.[3]

Like oil production, natural gas production in a given region tends to follow a bell curve,[citation needed] therefore gas production on a continental level is expected not to cease abruptly, rather it will decline gradually over time. But a key difference in understanding peak gas compared to peak oil is that while an individual oil well's production tends to decline relatively slowly, a gas well's production drops off much more abruptly as pressure in the reservoir is relieved.[citation needed] This could potentially lead to a much sharper decline in gas production at the continental level than has been seen in conventional oil production on those continents that have peaked.[citation needed]

Role of New Technology

As new technologies for natural gas production are discovered, the world's ultimate reserves can grow. Although some predictions of ultimate reserve recovery include provisions for new technology, not every magnitude of breakthrough can be accurately accounted for.[citation needed]


More than half the increase in US natural gas production from 2006 to 2008 came from Texas, where production rose 15% between the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. This was mostly due to improved technology, which allowed the production of deepwater offshore and "unconventional" resources. An important new development was the horizontal drilling in a geologic formation known as the Barnett Shale, underlying the city of Fort Worth, which is a highly impermeable formation and difficult to produce by conventional means. Wells drilled horizontally rather than vertically through the formation enabled profitable gas production, and the Barnett Shale now produces 6% of US natural gas. Other shale gas formations in the lower 48 states are widely distributed, and are known to contain large resources of natural gas.[4]

See also


  1. ^ "International Energy Outlook 2008". Energy Information Agency. June 2008. pp. Chapter 3 - Natural Gas. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  2. ^ Reserves of 6,3000 trillion cubic feet, consumption of 100 trillion.
  3. ^ Reserves of 308 trillion cubic feet, consumption of 27 trillion.
  4. ^ "Is U.S. natural gas production increasing?". US Energy Information Administration. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 

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