Brad Plumer of the Washington Post is reporting tonight that the US Geologic Service has clarified what its estimate is of and what its estimate is not of. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/hold-off-on-those-marcellus-shale-obituaries/2011/08/25/gIQAyP83fJ_blog.html.
We have a major apples to oranges issue that now has caused massive confusion and misunderstanding.
Apparently, according to Brenda Pierce who is the USGS Energy Program coordinator, the USGS estimate of 43 to 144 trillion cubic feet is of "undiscovered resources that can be recovered with current technology."
By contrast the Energy Information Administration estimate is of both "active" and "undeveloped" reserves together that put the Marcellus reserves at over 400 trillion cubic feet.
According to Pierce of USGS, the USGS estimate is "additive to what's already in production." That is a hugely important interpretation of the USGS data.
The USGS and the EIA are reportedly "working together to reconcile their two studies, which could take a few weeks."
According to the Washington Post, the USGS estimate could be much less stark than those early media reports that chose to call the USGS estimate an 80% cut of the Marcellus reserve.
And which reporter of course presented the USGS estimate as an 80% cut of the Marcellus reserve, while others reported that the USGS had increased its estimate from 2 trillion cubic feet to 84 trillion cubic? Yes indeed, the one and only NYT gas reporter.
Tonight he has more egg on his face, but he is beyond shame or supervision.
While folks figure out what various agencies are estimating, what is an apple, what is an orange, huge amounts of gas are being produced in the Marcellus and shale gas now provides 30% of all US natural gas. That is a fact.