E&E Daily, sub req'd

About 100 geologists and engineers are completing a new answer to a crucial issue for energy producers, consumers and policymakers: How much natural gas is buried a mile or more down in America's shale rock?

Two years ago, this team -- the Potential Gas Committee directed by John Curtis of the Colorado School of Mines -- fixed the most likely amount of U.S. natural gas that could be produced from all sources with today's technology at 1,898 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Add 273 tcf of already "proved" reserves reported by energy companies, and the United States was sitting on 2,100 tcf at the end of 2010, according to the committee.

For a country that consumes 24 tcf of natural gas a year, the total resource estimate suggested an abundance that could last nearly a century -- an outlook endorsed by President Obama and leaders throughout the industry.

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