UT study: Fayetteville Shale still holds promise

HOUSTON — The Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas will be one of the nation’s most prolific regions for natural gas production, with reserves that can be economically extracted through 2050, according to a study released this week.

The Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin analyzed the basin’s production history as well as areas that have not yet been drilled. The assessment showed that the Fayetteville has 38 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas reserves. Of that, 18 trillion cubic feet will be feasible to extract at natural gas prices around $4 per million British thermal units, the researchers said..

Natural gas for February delivery is currently selling at around $4 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Fayetteville: Local economies slow with Fayetteville Shale drilling lag

The United States consumed about 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012. The Barnett Shale play of Texas has about 45 trillion cubic feet of economically recoverable reserves, according to a prior study by the bureau.

The University of Texas study also identified different tiers of production within the shale play, delineating areas where natural gas could be extracted at lower costs.

If natural gas prices remain around $4 per million British thermal units, however, production from the Fayetteville Shale will plateau by 2015, with a gradual decline expected as well counts decrease in the play, the university said.

“The higher productivity tiers are, not surprisingly, more developed,” Svetlana Ikonnikova, an energy economist at the university and one of the study’s lead investigators, said in a statement. “The lower tiers remain uneconomic at almost any foreseeable gas price.”

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