A study released Wednesday by a Washington foundation that promotes the use of natural gas indicates that the U.S. has enough supply of the fuel to last for more than a century.


  A study released Wednesday by a Washington foundation that promotes the use of natural gas indicates that the U.S. has enough supply of the fuel to last for more than a century.

The study, prepared for the American Clean Skies Foundation by Chicago-based consulting firm Navigant Consulting Inc., showed that the nation has 2,247 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

That would be an 118-year supply at 2007 production levels, said Rick Smead, the consulting group's director and a co-author of the study. He said the U.S. consumes 22 trillion cubic feet of gas per year.

"There is not a resource constraint here," Smead said during a news conference in Washington. "... The gas is there. Now it depends on if the market is there."

Denise Bode, the president of the American Clean Skies Foundation and a former member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, said the study "authoritatively refutes head-on the mistaken belief that we do not have sufficient supply" of natural gas.

Aubrey McClendon, the foundation's chairman and the chairman and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., said that technological advancements during the past decade have given energy companies the ability to retrieve natural gas from so-called "unconventional sources" such as shale formations, tight sands and coalbed methane.

Another result of that rapid development in technology is that the U.S. Energy Information Administration has in recent years underestimated the potential of natural gas retrieval from those sources, McClendon said, adding that's why the foundation undertook the study.

Smead said to obtain the most current statistics for the study, a variety of approaches were used, including research through producer analyst presentations, reports in the trade press and direct outreach to producers and production-state officials. He said of the 114 producers contacted, about 60 percent responded to questions about resource size and current production.

McClendon, whose company is the third-largest overall producer of natural gas in the U.S., also appeared before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on Wednesday.

The study's release comes amid discussion of the potential of the wider use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel.

Billionaire energy magnate T. Boone Pickens, an Oklahoma native, told U.S. senators earlier this month of his idea to increase the use of wind power to generate electricity now produced by using natural gas, then using the freed-up natural gas as a vehicle fuel instead of gasoline, which is produced from oil.

On July 22, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., and Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., introduced legislation in Congress that would offer incentives to automakers to make natural gas vehicles and to consumers to buy those vehicles. Emanuel, Boren and Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., attended the foundation's news conference.

"This bill is a hat trick. It solves three problems with one strategy, which is to make sure that home-grown, home-developed natural gas is part of our energy policy," Emanuel said.

He said the bill would address environmental issues, help the U.S. economy and reduce the nation's dependance on foreign oil.

"Our economic security will grow correspondingly as our dependence on foreign oil declines," Emanuel said.


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.