EIA: Lower prices affected natural gas reserves in 2012

Newly published estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that lower natural gas prices drove down U.S. proved reserves in 2012 despite notable gains in the Marcellus and Eagle Ford shale gas plays. The estimates were published in EIA’s U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves 2012 released earlier this week.

The EIA stated it anticipates that proved reserves for 2013 will be affected positively by the recovery in natural gas prices in from 2012 to 2013.

According to the IEA, natural gas proved reserves, estimated as wet natural gas that includes natural gas plant liquids, decreased 7 percent in 2012 to 323 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The natural gas spot price at the Henry Hub dropped below $2.00 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in April 2012, marking its lowest price level since December 2001 and causing operators to revise the proved reserves of the existing natural gas fields downward.

Several states did report net increases, including Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Those increases were driven by the continued development of the Marcellus Shale Play, which became the largest shale play ranked by proved reserves in 2012. According to the EIA, however, gains in the Marcellus and Eagle Ford shale plays were offset by price-driven reductions in more mature shale plays, including the Barnett and the Haynesville.