In its Annual Energy Outlook report for 2011, the U.S. Energy Information Agency concluded that
the United States possesses 2,552 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of potential natural gas resources. Natural gas from shale resources, considered uneconomical just a few years ago, accounts for 827 Tcf of this resource estimate, more than double the estimate published last year. At the 2009 rate of U.S. consumption (about 22.8 Tcf per year), 2,552 Tcf of natural gas is enough to supply approximately 110 years of use.
Now UPI is reporting that the International Energy Agency's analysis finds that the world has enough natural gas to last 250 years:
Supplies of natural gas could last more than 250 years if Asian and European economies follow the U.S. unconventional reserves, the IEA said.
The abundance of shale gas and other forms of so-called unconventional gas discovered in the United States prompted a global rush to explore for the new resource.
The International Energy Agency said Australia is taking the lead in the push toward unconventional gas, though China, India and Indonesia are close behind. European companies are taking preliminary steps to unlock unconventional gas as are other regions....
Global supplies of natural gas could last for another 130 years at current consumption rates. That time frame could double with unconventional gas, the IEA said.
Since burning natural gas releases about half the carbon dioxide that burning coal does, increasing its use could go a long way toward reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are thought to be warming the planet. In addition, natural gas could be substituted for oil as a transport fuel reducing concerns about dependence on oil imports. However, abundant and cheap natural gas will undercut the rationales for investing in and deploying more expensive renewable energy technologies, e.g., solar and wind.