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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Marcellus Reserves Larger than Expected

PITTSBURGH (AP) — There's been plenty of debate over the Marcellus Shale natural gas field, but new research adds a twist that could impact political and environmental battles. Two independent financial firms say the Marcellus isn't just the biggest natural gas field in the country — it's the cheapest place for energy companies to drill.

One of the reports adds that the Marcellus reserves that lie below parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York are far larger than recent government estimates, while another said the powerful combination of resource, cost and location is altering natural gas prices and market trends across the nation.

The Marcellus could contain "almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S," a report from Standard & Poor's issued this week said.

Another recent report from ITG Investment Research, a worldwide financial firm based in New York, found that a detailed analysis of Marcellus well production data suggested that federal government estimates of its reserves "are grossly understated," according.

The new information increases the likelihood that natural gas will be used for more and more energy needs, such as city buses, industrial use, and electric power generation, according to Manuj Nikhanj, the head of Energy Research at ITG. And though low wholesale prices have squeezed drilling companies' revenue, the S&P report says the Marcellus has the lowest production cost of any natural gas field in the nation, adding to the likelihood of a continued boom.

"The amount of resource that's available at relatively low cost is fairly enormous," Nikhanj said.

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