NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Rocky Mountains will Fill Natural Gas Demand

March 28, 2003

Natural gas demand in the United States has been increasing for the last 15 years and is projected to grow by 50 percent in the next 20 years. Meeting this growing demand will require an increase in supply, which is expected to come mostly from the Rocky Mountains.

  • The Rockies contain approximately 15 percent of the nation's technically recoverable (resources plus reserves) future natural gas supply.
  • Although production in the region currently accounts for only about 9 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States, this figure is increasing rapidly as demand increases and resources in more established regions -- such as Texas and the Gulf Coast -- are depleted.
  • Since more than 60 percent of the potential natural gas in the Rocky Mountain region is located on federal land, resource development decisions will increasingly become the responsibility of federal land managers.
  • Estimates from several sources suggest that the Rocky Mountain region contains roughly 15 percent of the nation's natural gas reserves and potential resources.

The Greater Green River Basin, located primarily in southwestern Wyoming and extending into Colorado and Utah, contains between 135 trillion and 160 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- about 10 percent of the technically recoverable natural gas supplies in the United States.

  • Approximately 35 to 45 percent of the natural gas in the Greater Green River Basin could be produced at less than $3 per million British thermal units (BTU).
  • As the price of natural gas rises, more of the Greater Green River Basin's resource would likely be developed.

Source: Tom LaTourrette, Mark Bernstein, Mark Hanson, Christopher Pernin, Debra Knopman and Adrian Overton, "Assessing Natural Gas and Oil Resources: An Example of a New Approach in the Greater Green River Basin" (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2003).

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