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EIA Report Shows 26% Rise In Gas Discoveries Last Year

EIA Report Shows 26% Rise In Gas Discoveries Last Year

While gas reserves in the lower-48 states declined slightly last year (down 519 Bcf, or 0.3%), gas discoveries shot up 27% "from a very good 1996," to the highest level in the past decade, the Energy Information Administration said in an advance summary of a study titled "U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves 1997 Annual Report."

Total discoveries of dry gas reserves were 15,648 Bcf, with additions in Texas and federal waters of the Gulf, accounting for more than three-fifths of them. Total discoveries, which included field extensions, new field discoveries and new reservoir discoveries in old fields, equaled 81% of production last year.

New field discoveries were 2,681 Bcf, up substantially from 1996 and twice the prior 10-year average. Field extensions added 10,585 Bcf, 68% above the prior 10-year average and new reservoir discoveries in old fields were 2,382 Bcf, down from 1996. Total discoveries per exploratory well were more than four times the rates of the early 1980s.

The reserve declines in the lower-48 states were offset by revisions and adjustments in Alaskan reserves (up 14%), which pushed total U.S. reserves higher for the fourth straight year. Total reserves moved up 749 Bcf (0.4%) to 167,223 Bcf in 1997 in contrast to the 1,300-plus Bcf growth seen in the prior three years (1994-96). Large additions of dry gas reserves were seen in Wyoming (up 1,242 Bcf, or 10%), Oklahoma (up 365 Bcf, or 2.8%) and Kentucky (up 381 Bcf, or 39%). Large decreases in reserves occurred in the federal waters offshore California (down 700 Bcf, or 56%), in Colorado (down 882 Bcf, or 11%), in New Mexico (down 971 Bcf, or 6%), and in Texas (down 509 Bcf, or 1%). Revisions and adjustments to reserves in existing fields were the lowest in the last decade and were half of those recorded in 1996.

Coalbed methane reserves continue to grow faster than conventional reserves, accounting for 7% of total proved reserves last year. Coalbed methane production, which rose to 5% of the U.S. total, also increased faster than production from conventional resources.

U.S. proved reserves of crude oil increased in 1997 for the first time in a decade. Surprisingly large revisions in some of California's old, heavy oil fields provided nearly half the oil increase. In 1997, crude oil reserve additions exceeded production by 25%. New oil field discoveries were more than twice those in 1996 and over five times the prior 10-year average.

Rocco Canonica

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