USGS: Texas and Gulf Coast Home to US’ “Largest Continuous Natural Gas” Resources

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) released two new assessments last week, finding that the Bossier and Haynesville formations of the Gulf Coast hold an estimated 304.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas resources. Together, these formations represent the “largest continuous natural gas assessment” ever conducted by USGS.

Covering an area from the Florida panhandle through the coast of Texas, USGS has known there to be significant resources in the Bossier and Haynesville formations. However, this latest assessment is a substantial increase in the amount of recoverable resources that both the Bossier and Haynesville are estimated to contain. According to USGS, the Bossier is believed to contain 108.6 Tcf of natural gas – an almost 100 Tcf increase from the 2010 estimate of 9.0 Tcf. The Haynesville is equally impressive, as this new assessment represents an over 134 Tcf increase in the estimated natural gas resources of the formation; jumping from 61.4 Tcf in 2010, to 195.8 Tcf today.

These massive increases in the recoverable resources within the Haynesville and Bossier are due the impressive technological advances in resource development, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. As Walter Guidroz, Program Coordinator of the USGS Energy Resources Program states in the press release:

“As the USGS revisits many of the oil and gas basins of the United States, we continually find that technological revolutions of the past few year have truly been a game-changer in the amount of resources that are technically recoverable,”

These “technological revolutions” in production have not only helped boost estimates of recoverable domestic natural gas resources, but also domestic oil resources. Less than six months ago, the USGS released an assessment estimating that West Texas’ Permian Basin holds roughly 20 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil; representing the “largest estimate of continuous oil” in the agency’s history.

With technology dramatically increasing the amount of oil and gas resources now possible to recover, USGS stressed the importance of keeping assessments current. As Guidroz mentions,

“Changes in technology and industry practices, combined with increased understanding of the regional geologic framework, can have a significant effect on what resources become technically recoverable. These changes are why the USGS remains committed to performing the most up-to-date assessments of these vital resources throughout the United States and the world.”

Finally, in addition to the 304.4 Tcf of natural gas, the Haynesville and Bossier formations are estimated to contain about 4.0 billion barrels of oil and 1.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

There’s no doubt technological innovations have greatly impacted our lives: from the way we connect with friends, to how we order a meal. But as this latest assessment from USGS shows, advances in oil and gas development – coupled with the wealth of resources in Texas and the Gulf region – have helped to improve our national energy security and make the United States a global leader in oil and natural gas production.

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