Fayetteville Shale Sustainable Through 2050, Study Says

The Fayetteville Shale will continue to be a "major contributor" to production of natural gas in the country, according to a study.

Researchers at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin completed the study and similar ones at the Barnett, Marcellus and Haynesville Shales in other states. The analysis was built on data collected from wells drilled between 2005 and 2011.

At current gas prices — around $4 per million British thermal unit — production is expected to plateau between now and 2015, then gradually decline. Potential price changes did not drastically affect this prediction.

That decline will mean that current peak production, around 950 billion cubic feet of gas per year, will drop to 400 bcf by 2030.

But there is technically 38 trillion cubic feet of gas available in the shale, and of that, 18 tcf can reasonably be extracted, and the study said that could last until 2050.

To compare, the researchers found similar evidence for the Barnett Shale in Texas to reliably deliver gas resources until about 2030; it has around 45 tcf of economically recoverable gas.

A brief on the study, as well one for the study of the Barnett shale, is available on the Bureau of Economic Geology's website. Briefs on the Marcellus and Haynesville studies have not yet been released.