Shale Deposits Map
Map showing global shale deposits U.S. Energy Information Administration

Did you know that Pakistan has as much recoverable shale oil as Canada? Or that South Africa has more shale gas resources than Russia?

That’s some of the insight into global resources that's included in a new assessment by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which updates a two-year-old study by nearly doubling the confirmed number of global shale formations that have extractable oil and natural gas deposits and adding nine new countries with proven reserves.

We now know that the world has 137 shale formations in 41 countries with technically recoverable fossil fuel, a figure that is profoundly changing the global energy market.

Here’s the EIA’s explanation for updating the previous assessment:

“There were two reasons for pursuing an updated assessment of shale resources so soon after the prior report. First, geologic research and well drilling results not available for use in the 2011 report allow for a more informed evaluation of the shale formations covered in that report as well as other shale formations that it did not assess. Second, while the 2011 report focused exclusively on natural gas, recent developments in the United States highlight the role of shale formations and other tight plays as sources of crude oil, lease condensates, and a variety of liquids processed from wet natural gas.”

Here’s the most updated map of where in the world shale deposits are giving up – or could give up in the future – natural gas and so-called tight oil extracted from shale deposits.

Map of Shale Oil And Gas Deposits
Here's the EIA's latest assessment of where the world's known technically recoverable shale oil and gas deposits are located. The number of countries on the list has nearly doubled since 2011. U.S. Energy Information Administration

Here are the countries with the largest known reserves of shale oil.

Countries With Largest Known Shale Oil Resources
The EIA estimates that Russia is the largest source of shale oil. But there are some interesting members on the list. Pakistan is thought to have as much shale oil as Canada, for example. U.S. Energy Information Administration

And here are the top countries for shale gas:

Countries with the largest shale gas reserves
China has the largest reserve of shale gas, according to the EIA. South Africa has more than both Russia and Brazil. U.S. Energy Information Administration

The EIA estimate is based on all forms of so-called tight oil, which refers both to shale deposits and other forms of low permeability “tight” deposits. All shale extraction projects require water-intensive fracking procedures that can pose a challenge to extracting gas in arid climates.

Fracking is controversial among environmentalists because of the water issue and because of the additives used in the process. Last week Boulder, Colo., became the latest municipality in Colorado to oppose Gov. John Hickenlooper’s drive to increase fracking in the state. The city passed a one-year moratorium on the procedure. The New York State Assembly passed a similar two-year moratorium in March.

Proponents deny the detrimental environmental impact of fracking and point to natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal and a way to boost energy independence, especially in the United States and China.