Government energy geeks from the Energy Information Administration this morning released the abridged version of their Annual Energy Outlook. One of the most dramatic bits of the outlook for 2012 is that the EIA cut their estimate of “technically recoverable” shale gas almost in half, from 827 trillion cubic feet to 482 trillion cubic feet.

According to the EIA, the decline comes mostly from a lower estimate of resources in the Marcellus shale, the formation that underlies New York and Pennsylvania. The EIA cut its Marcellus estimate from 410 trillion cubic feet in 2011 to 141 trillion cubic feet this year.

At the release of the report, though, EIA representatives cautioned not to make too much hay out of this cut; there’s still way more recoverable natural gas out there than we thought there was 10 years ago. And the share of our energy that comes from natural gas will keep rising in the future. But it does emphasize that no one totally know what’s going on with hydrofracking: Companies are just drilling as fast as they can and figuring out what it all means later.

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