EIA: Russia Top In Technically-Recoverable Shale Oil Reserves

June 11, 2013

In a report issued Monday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Russia tops a list of countries with technically-recoverable shale oil reserves. The EIA states that Russia has 75 billion barrels of shale oil. The United States rates second with 58 billion barrels, followed by China with 32 billion barrels. The report covers the most prospective shale formations in a group of 41 countries that demonstrate near-term promise and that have sufficient geologic data for a resource assessment.

The authors of the report write that because tight oil and shale gas resources have proven to be quickly producible in large volumes at a relatively low cost, they have revolutionized U.S. oil and natural gas production, providing 29 percent of total U.S. crude oil production and 40 percent of total U.S. natural gas production in 2012. However, given the variation across the world's shale formations in both geology and above-the-ground conditions, the extent to which global technically recoverable shale resources will prove to be economically recoverable is not yet clear. The market effect of shale resources outside the United States will depend on their own production costs, volumes, and wellhead prices. For example, a potential shale well that costs twice as much and produces half the output of a typical U.S. well would be unlikely to back out current supply sources of oil or natural gas. In many cases, even significantly smaller differences in costs, well productivity, or both can make the difference between a resource that is a market game changer and one that is economically irrelevant at current market prices.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2013.