While gas reserves in the lower-48 states declined slightly lastyear (down 519 Bcf, or 0.3%), gas discoveries shot up 27% “from avery good 1996,” to the highest level in the past decade, theEnergy Information Administration said in an advance summary of astudy titled “U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas LiquidsReserves 1997 Annual Report.”

Total discoveries of dry gas reserves were 15,648 Bcf, withadditions in Texas and federal waters of the Gulf, accounting formore than three-fifths of them. Total discoveries, which includedfield extensions, new field discoveries and new reservoirdiscoveries in old fields, equaled 81% of production last year.

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

The reserve declines in lower-48 states were offset by revisionsand adjustments in Alaskan reserves (up 14%), which pushed totalU.S. reserves higher for the fourth straight year. Total reservesmoved up 749 Bcf (0.4%) to 167,223 Bcf in 1997 in contrast to the1,300-plus Bcf growth seen in the prior three years (1994-96).Large dry gas reserve additions 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 watersoffshore California (down 700 Bcf, or 56%), in Colorado (down 882Bcf, or 11%), in New Mexico (down 971 Bcf, or 6%), and in Texas(down 509 Bcf, or 1%). Revisions and adjustments to reserves inexisting fields were the lowest in the last decade and were half ofthose recorded in 1996.

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

U.S. proved reserves of crude oil increased in 1997 for thefirst time in a decade. Surprisingly large revisions in some ofCalifornia’s old, heavy oil fields provided nearly half the oilincrease. In 1997, crude oil reserve additions exceeded productionby 25%. New oil field discoveries were more than twice those in1996 and over five times the prior 10-year average.

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