America’s proved reserves of natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids have been assessed in a consistent and authoritative manner since the mid 1940s. However, predictions about the country’s “future supply” of natural gas, that is, its “recoverable resources” of natural gas, including the undiscovered potential, were wide ranging and often conflicting. Industry’s frustration over this lack of agreement and consistency led to organization of the “Future Gas Requirements and Supply Committee” in Omaha, Nebraska, in the early 1960s.
That group published its first gas resource assessment, “Future Natural Gas Supply of the United States,” in October 1964. In that concise document the Committee clearly stated its rationale for such an undertaking:
The leaders of the natural gas industry have expressed a strong desire for a continuing long-range study of the requirements and supply of natural gas in the United States. Many have made predictions concerning the gas requirements and the gas supply of the future. None has made a thorough nationwide study using the efforts and judgment of competent representation from all phases of the industry. The time has now come for industry to appraise its own future.
The intent of this work is to utilize the knowledge and experienced judgment of the best informed people in all segments of the industry. No group or organization is better equipped or qualified to evaluate the potential of the industry than the industry itself. …
The importance of that initial assessment was recognized by the Colorado School of Mines, and in the spring of 1965 the university was selected to sponsor the work of the FGRSC. With support of the American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute and Independent Natural Gas Association of America, the Committee restructured itself in 1966 to provide for broader representation from other organizations that had expressed interest in the nation’s future gas supply. In February 1967 the Committee announced its formal reorganization as the “Potential Gas Committee.” The Potential Gas Committee (PGC) released its first national resource assessment (for year-end 1966) in June 1967. Since then, except for 1974, the PGC has prepared and published its assessments on a biennial basis, more frequently and regularly than any other group.
Over the years, the PGC has maintained much the same organizational structure as the original FGRSC but has refined its definitions of resource categories, as well as its geographical scope, assessment methodology and limiting considerations to keep pace with the times.
Likewise, in keeping with the FGRSC’s philosophy, the PGC’s assessment work continues to be conducted by a dynamic, nationwide group of knowledgeable and highly experienced volunteers, primarily geologists and engineers, who work in the natural gas exploration, production and transportation industries and in the field and technical services and consulting sectors. PGC’s officers, directors and working members receive no compensation from the Potential Gas Committee for their efforts in preparing the biennial resource assessments and other contributions.
The PGC also benefits from the input of respected technical advisors (most of whom are former active members), together with representatives of the gas pipeline and gas distribution industries and a professionally diverse group of observers representing federal and state government agencies, academia, industry and research organizations, and commercial firms in both the United States and Canada.
In 1984 the Potential Gas Committee was incorporated as a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity in the State of Colorado.
Potential Gas Agency
As it has since the beginning, the PGC continues to value the support of the Colorado School of Mines, through the Potential Gas Agency (PGA). Although the PGC functions independently, the PGA provides the Committee with guidance, technical assistance, administrative support and training in the application of the PGC’s resource assessment procedures; assists the Committee with new member recruitment and public outreach efforts; and arrange the PGC’s training sessions and semiannual meetings. The Agency also is charged with maintaining scientific standards and objectivity in the PGC’s studies and with publishing its reports. As part of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Center, the PGA functions under the purview of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
In addition, the Agency receives financial underwriting from respected E&P and gas pipeline companies and distributors, as well as industry trade and research organizations and unaffiliated individuals. Their contributions help support the Agency’s salaried personnel (Director and part-time Administrative Manager) and year-to-year operations. All sponsors are acknowledged in the PGC’s biennial report. Revenues from the Agency’s publications sales are used to recover costs associated with production, printing and distribution of the biennial report (see “Publications of the Potential Gas Committee”).