U.S. oil reserves hit 1975 levels, gas reserves set record — EIA 

Source: Jenny Mandel, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, December 5, 2014

New U.S. oil and gas resources and a rebound in natural gas prices last year combined to push the nation’s proved oil and gas reserves to new highs in 2013, the Energy Information Administration announced today.

Proved gas reserves went up 9.7 percent to reach a record 354 trillion cubic feet (tcf) at the end of 2013, EIA said in a new report, while proved crude oil and lease condensate reserves rose 9.3 percent to 36.5 billion barrels.

Extensions of existing reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation were a major driver of the higher natural gas numbers last year, with Pennsylvania leading the way with a 37 percent increase, adding 13.5 tcf in proved reserves, and West Virginia following closely behind with a 56 percent gain that added 8.3 tcf.

Texas, Wyoming, North Dakota, Arkansas, Ohio and Colorado also saw strong reserve growth, EIA said.

Alaska, Louisiana, Utah, Alabama and offshore reserves in the Gulf of Mexico showed the largest drops in gas reserves, with Alaska leading the list as oil field declines led to reductions in associated natural gas production.

The changing price of natural gas played a major role in changing reserve estimates, since proved reserves by definition are those judged to be recoverable in future years “under existing economic and operating conditions.”

Natural gas prices have ridden a roller coaster over the past three years, falling from an average $4.15 per million Btu (MMbtu) in 2011 to $2.75 per MMbtu in 2012, and then returning to $3.66 per MMBtu in 2013, according to EIA. The 2013 gains in natural gas reserves more than offset a 7 percent decline reported in the previous year.

Oil rises for 5th year

EIA said proved oil and lease condensate reserves went up for the fifth year in a row last year, adding 3.1 billion barrels to reach a total of 36.5 billion barrels.

The growth was led by increases in North Dakota from the Bakken and Three Forks formations, which added 1.9 billion barrels. Texas had the second-largest increase with 0.9 billion new barrels showing up on the books.

Nationwide, the increase amounted to a 9 percent boost over 2012 numbers and was paired with declining imports, as crude oil intake fell by nearly 10 percent last year.

The figures on proved oil reserves could decline next year if falling oil prices knock some production out of estimates of what is economically recoverable.

Click here for EIA’s report.