Intelligence brief: Colorado shale is almost size of Marcellus; Pipeline bill calls for new technologies

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Colorado is famous for its high peaks; now it could also be known for its shale (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Hogs555)

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Colorado shale believed to be almost as large as Marcellus

Colorado sits on 40 times more natural gas than previously thought, according to an updated estimate by the US Geological Survey.

The USGS said the Mancos Shale in the Piceance Basin contains about 66 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable shale natural gas, 74 million barrels of shale oil and 45 million barrels of natural-gas liquids, according to the estimate, the first since 2003.

More than 2,000 wells were drilled and completed in one or more intervals within the Mancos Shale. In addition, the USGS Energy Resources Program drilled a research well in the southern Piceance Basin that provided significant new geologic and geochemical data that were used to refine the 2003 assessment.

The Mancos Shale is more than 4,000 feet thick, and contains intervals that act as the source rock for shale gas and oil, meaning that the petroleum was generated in the formation. Some of the oil and gas migrated out of the source rock and into tight (low permeability) reservoirs within the Mancos, as well as into conventional reservoirs both above and below the formation. Oil and gas also remained in continuous shale gas and shale oil reservoirs within the Mancos, the USGS said.

By comparison, the most recent USGS surveys estimate that the Marcellus Shale contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and the Barnett Shale about 53 trillion cubic feet.

Colorado has a number of known shale resources (Image credit: US Geological Survey)

Pipeline-safety bill promotes new technologies, data repository

A bi-partisan pipeline-safety bill passed by the US House of Representatives this week would, if passed into law, require the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study on improving existing damage-prevention programs through technological improvements.

The study must include an identification of any methods to improve damage prevention through location and mapping practices or technologies in an effort to reduce releases caused by excavation.

It must also analyze how increased use of global-positioning system and digital-mapping technologies, predictive-analytic tools, public-awareness initiatives, mobile devices, and other advanced technologies could supplement existing one-call notification and damage-prevention programs to reduce the frequency and severity of incidents caused by excavation damage.

The bill also required an analysis of the feasibility of a national data repository for pipeline-excavation accident data that creates standardized data models for storing and sharing pipeline-accident information.

In addition to its focus on technologies, the legislation requires the agency to update safety regulations, increase transparency, and speed up the process of completing outstanding safety requirements included in the 2011 reauthorization of the federal pipeline-safety program.

Don Santa, Chief Executive of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, which represents most of the interstate natural-gas pipeline companies in the US, applauded the house for passing S. 2276, the PIPES Act of 2016.

“Overall, S. 2276 meets INGAA’s goals for the current reauthorization of the Pipeline Safety Act. These goals include: reasonable authorization levels for the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; a focus on PHMSA completing the regulatory mandates under the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011; and a requirement that PHMSA set minimum federal safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities,” he said.