The USA holds the world's fourth largest shale gas reserves after China, Argentina and Algeria, according to a new report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The USA holds the world’s fourth largest shale gas reserves after China, Argentina and Algeria, according to a new report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The US energy statistics agency has released estimates of shale oil and shale gas reserves in the USA and 41 other countries. It believes that shale reserves represent ten per cent of the world’s crude oil and 32 per cent of the world’s natural gas technically recoverable reserves.

A number of countries around the world have begun to explore and assess their reserves of shale gas in an effort to emulate the USA’s so-called energy revolution, which has seen a boom in the production of both oil and gas from shale formations.

The EIA’s report shows that more than half of the identified shale oil resources outside the United States are concentrated in four countries – Russia, China, Argentina, and Libya – while more than half of the non-US shale gas resources are concentrated in five countries – China, Argentina, Algeria, Canada, and Mexico. It indicates technically recoverable resources of 345 billion barrels of shale oil globally and 7299 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.

Only the USA and Canada are producing oil and gas from shale formations on a commercial scale. The report said gas from shale formations increased world natural gas resources by 47 per cent to 22 882 trillion cubic feet (tcf).

China is thought to have 1115 tcf of shale gas, followed by Argentina with 802 tcf. Algeria has 707 tcf and the USA 665 tcf.

According to the EIA, these resource estimates in the report are "highly uncertain and will remain so until they are extensively tested with production wells".