A new study, believed to be the most thorough assessment yet of the natural gas production potential of the Barnett Shale, foresees slowly declining production through the year 2030 and beyond and total recovery at greater than three times cumulative production to date. This forecast has broad implications for the future of U.S energy production and policy.
The study, conducted by the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at The University of Texas at Austin and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, integrates engineering, geology and economics in a numerical model that allows for scenario testing based on many input parameters. In the base case, the study forecasts a cumulative 44 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of recoverable reserves from the Barnett, with annual production declining in a predictable curve from the current peak of 2 TCF per year to about 900 billion cubic feet (BCF) per year by 2030.
This forecast falls in between some of the more optimistic and pessimistic predictions of production from the Barnett and suggests that the formation will continue to be a major contributor to U.S. natural gas production through 2030.
The BEG will be completing similar studies of three other major U.S. shale gas basins by the end of this year.