Society of Petroleum Engineers 6200 North Central Expressway Dallas, Texas 75206
THIS PAPER IS SUBJECT TO CORRECTION
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc.
Warnings of a natural gas shortage were sounded by qualified experts as long ago as 1948, but were largely ignored by policymakers. Since the peak in 1967, the lower 48 states proved reserve inventory of natural gas has proved reserve inventory of natural gas has shrunk by more than one-third and reserve additions during this period have been less than one-half the amount necessary to maintain a constant level of proved reserves. In recent years the domestic drilling effort has responded well to higher gas prices and other incentives, but the discovery results have been disappointing. These trends could be an indication that the size of the undiscovered natural gas resource base may be the most serious constraint on future conventional gas supply.
Domestic natural gas production peaked in 1973 and has declined each year since then. Based on recent trends of annual reserve additions, the staff of the FPC projects that lower-48-state conventional natural gas production will decline to approximately 14 Tcf production will decline to approximately 14 Tcf by 1985, a 38-percent drop from the 1973 peak of 22.5 Tcf. While further increases in price incentives might ameliorate the situation somewhat, industry and government policymakers should proceed on the expectation of decreasing gas availability.
The views expressed herein are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Power Commission or of individual commissioners.
There were two major energy events that took place in 1973. The contrast between these two events is interesting and says much about our national perception of serious energy problems. The first event, the OPEC oil problems. The first event, the OPEC oil embargo, followed by the new tough OPEC bargaining posture and skyrocketing world oil prices was given extensive press coverage, and prices was given extensive press coverage, and of course, the temporary gasoline shortage had a direct impact on the lives of most citizens. By contrast, the second major energy event in 1973 received little, if any, media coverage. This second event was the peaking of U.S. natural gas production and the beginning of its decline for the first time in the history of the modern gas industry.