Bottom line, these estimates have been revised before and will be revised again. And as I continuously tell readers of my Energy & Income newsletter, the industry is still plowing billions into the Marcellus Shale -- and you don't do that without a pretty strong conviction about the potential resources in place.
Risks to Consider: This latest report means we may need to temper some of the earlier Marcellus projections. But it doesn't really change the calculus for investors.
By any measure, the U.S. still has copious amounts of shale gas.
Action to Take --> The market has yawned at this news, mostly because it already expected the gap between the DOE and the USGS estimates to narrow. I wouldn't rush to any judgment just yet, but these types of reports do need to be carefully considered.
Keep in mind, a sharp downward estimate isn't necessarily a bad development. In fact, less gas would mean a quicker end to the supply glut, which could lead to stronger natural gas prices -- good news for producers such as Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK).
On the other hand, upward revisions mean a more sustainable inventory of inexpensive fuel, the perfect environment for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports made by Cheniere Energy (NYSE: LNG) and increased demand for Clean Energy Fuel's (Nasdaq: CLNE) gasoline and diesel alternatives.
(These are just some of the plays you need to keep in mind when looking at this sector. For more of my favorite ways to profit from oil and natural gas, I invite you to watch this exclusive presentation.)
-- Nathan Slaughter