Nearly 1/3 of underground natural gas is shale gas: U.S estimate

Shale gas accounts for nearly one-third of the natural gas that exists underground globally and China has the largest reserves, a U.S. estimate showed Monday.

Shale gas represents 32 percent of the world's technically recoverable natural gas resources, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in an estimate that demonstrates the potential for larger-scale shale gas projects worldwide.

The total amount of buried shale gas is estimated at 206 trillion cubic meters and China's reserves come to 31 trillion cubic meters. It is followed by Argentina with 22 trillion cubic meters and Algeria with 20 trillion cubic meters.

The organization also said underground shale oil totals 345 billion barrels worldwide, accounting for about 10 percent of global crude oil resources.

Russia is ranked top of the list of countries with technically recoverable shale oil resources with 75 billion barrels, followed by the United States with 58 billion barrels and China with 32 billion barrels.

In the United States alone, shale gas and shale oil resources accounted for 40 percent of total natural gas production and 29 percent of crude oil production in 2012.