On June 20, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released estimates for undiscovered natural gas reserves within five Mesozoic shale basins along the East Coast. The area assessed extends from parts of Georgia north through Massachusetts (see map to the right). These new shale resources comprise similar characteristics to those in Marcellus Shale. The successful development of the Marcellus Shale since 2009 is an indicator that these undiscovered resources could be utilized in a similar manner in the years to come.
In total, the USGS estimates a mean of nearly 3.9 trillion cubic feet in undiscovered natural gas and 135 million barrels of undiscovered natural gas liquids. The five basins studied included the Dan River-Danville Basin in North Carolina and Virginia, the Deep River Basin in North Carolina, the Richmond Basin in Virginia, the South Newark Basin in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the Taylorsville Basin in Maryland and Virginia.
Of the five, The Deep River, South Newark and Taylorsville basins show the most potential for future oil and gas production. According to the report, there is a 95% chance that these three basins alone hold a total of 1,658 billion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas and 52 million barrels of undiscovered natural gas liquids. The five basins studied are among 14 that were formed along the edge of the North American continent during the Mesozoic era. The other nine basins did not contain enough data to be quantitatively assessed.
The USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources. Estimates of undiscovered resources help both producers and consumers understand future domestic supply opportunities and possible areas of development.