Most of the additions to natural gas and crude oil reservesduring the past decade have come from existing fields rather thanfrom new discoveries, and the trend is likely to continue well intothe future, according to a new study issued by the Gas ResearchInstitute (GRI) yesterday.

The study, which was conducted by Energy and EnvironmentalAnalysis Inc. of Arlington, VA, on behalf of GRI, projected thegrowth potential for natural gas reserves in existing fields at433.8 Tcf out to the year 2015. This is 32% higher than the mostrecent estimate of 327 Tcf reported by the U.S. GeologicalSurvey/Minerals Management Service in a 1995-1996 report, it noted.Much of the gas reserve growth, GRI forecasts, will come in fourareas: the Mid-Continent, Arkla-East Texas, San Juan Basin and EastGulf Onshore. The growth potential for crude oil reserves fromexisting wells was pegged at 29.9 billion barrels out to 2015.

“I would say that this is good news [for producers] from thestandpoint that they will be able to avoid the risks of rolling thedice with wildcat exploration,” said John Cochener, principalanalyst of resource evaluation for GRI. “I guess it’s kind of theconservative way. It’s more of a sure thing” for energy producers.

The increase in reserves from existing fields, which has beenespecially strong in the past three years, is largely owing to themore widespread use of newer technologies, such as horizontaldrilling, 3-D seismic and new fracturing methods, he told NGI.

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