Shale gas could increase global gas resources by some 50%, according to a recently published report by a team of energy experts funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

The report claims that technically recoverable resources of shale gas may be half as large as those for conventional gas, but there are major uncertainties in resource estimates, even for regions where development is relatively advanced. The majority of studies fail to address this uncertainty, and there are considerable difficulties in comparing and combining estimates from different studies. The report also highlights significant limitations in currently available estimation methodologies.

It is increasingly claimed that we are entering a ‘golden age of gas’, with the exploitation of unconventional resources expected to transform gas markets around the world. Shale gas production has grown extremely rapidly in the US, but the extent to which this growth can be maintained, or reproduced in other areas of the world, remains unclear.

Taking the best of currently available estimates, the team found that global shale gas resources may be approximately half the size of conventional gas resources, with the US holding around ten percent of shale gas resources and Europe around eight percent. When other forms of ‘unconventional gas’ are taken into account, the total global gas resource may be 60% larger than was thought a few years ago. However, these figures refer to technically recoverable resources and a range of factors could lead the economically recoverable resource to be substantially less.

Given the absence of production experience in most parts of the world, and the number and magnitude of uncertainties that currently exist, the team concluded that estimates of recoverable shale gas resources should be treated with considerable caution. Full details of the report can be found at