Gas Reserves Rise 6%, Overcoming Losses Due to Hurricane Damage

Despite a 4% drop in natural gas production last year primarily because of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, U.S. proved natural gas reserves rose about 6%, the largest annual increase since 1970, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report Tuesday.

Excluding gas held in underground storage, domestic proved gas reserves (including Alaska) rose to 204.4 Tcf despite a sharp 10% decline in the Gulf of Mexico stemming from the damage done by the hurricanes. EIA noted that the declines in proved reserves in the Gulf of Mexico resulted mainly from the loss of 113 offshore platforms and seriously damaged pipeline and processing infrastructure due to the hurricanes in 2005.

By far, the largest increase in proved reserves in 2005 was in Texas, which posted a 6.55 Tcf jump. The second largest increase was in Colorado at 1.85 Tcf, followed by Wyoming with 1.14 Tcf and West Virginia with 1.1 Tcf.

Louisiana (859 Bcf), Oklahoma (885 Bcf), California (594 Bcf), Utah (429 Bcf) and Pennsylvania (421 Bcf) also posted sizable gains. In contrast, proved gas reserves offshore in the Gulf fell 1.8 Tcf. Other large drops were seen in New Mexico (-311 Bcf), Kansas (-338 Bcf), Michigan (-181 Bcf) and Alabama (-155 Bcf).

Total reserves discoveries, which included field extensions, new fields and new reservoirs at old fields, rose 15% from 2004 levels to 23.2 Tcf, with extensions continuing to represent the bulk of the category at 21 Tcf, 16% more than in 2004 and 74% more than the prior 10-year average. New field discoveries were up 24% to 942 Bcf but were 46% lower than the prior 10-year average. And new reservoir discoveries in old fields were up about 1% from 2004 levels to 1.2 Tcf, but were 45% lower than the 10-year average.

Coalbed methane (CBM) proved reserves posted a new record at nearly 20 Tcf, up 8% from 2004. CBM proved reserves accounted for 10% of total reserves in 2005. The large majority of the CBM reserves are in Colorado (6.8 Tcf) and New Mexico (5.3 Tcf) with Wyoming (2.5 Tcf) and Alabama (1.8 Tcf) also holding large amounts and the eastern states also carrying significant quantities (1.8 Tcf).

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