New Report Questions Government’s Rosy Shale Forecast

  • A well near the Woodlands in Butler County, Pa., drilled by XTO. Photo: Reid Frazier

December 3, 2014
By Susan Phillips

Marcellus Shale production could peak in just five years, plateau, and then tail off quickly, according to new research by a team of petroleum engineers at the University of Texas. The UT forecast is significantly less optimistic than recent reports issued by the Energy Information Administration, a government agency. The research is reported today in Nature.

The University of Texas forecast relies on a more detailed analysis, and accounts for a subset of wells that are large producers in each shale play. These “sweet spots” are not consistent across the board and shale gas production among the big four plays, including the Marcellus, is expected to level out in 2020. In contrast, the EIA forecasts a shale gas plateau in 2040.

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