11/06/2013 14:23 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST

B.C.'s natural gas reserves double previous estimates

A new report from the B.C. government claims the province's natural gas reserves are more than double the size of previous estimates.

The new estimate is based on analysis of the Montney Formation, which spans northeast B.C. south of Fort Nelson into the Fort St. John area and across the border into Alberta.

B.C.'s total natural gas reserves are estimated at 2,933 trillion cubic feet — enough to support development and LNG export operations for more than 150 years, according to a statement issued by the Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman.

But according to the study, an estimate of 1,965 trillion cubic feet of available gas, often referred to as gas-in-place or GIP, is the most realistic scenario of available reserves in British Columbia

The study, The Ultimate Potential for Unconventional Petroleum from the Montney Formation of British Columbia and Alberta,  was a joint effort by Canada's National Energy Board, British Columbia's Ministry of Natural Gas Development, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, and the Alberta Energy Regulator.

LNG dominates B.C.'s energy plans

"The Montney area will support economic activity in our province for a very long time as a supply hub for liquefied natural gas development, said Coleman.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has made developing the province's LNG industry the cornerstone of her government's economic development strategy for the province.

According to the ministry there are more than 10 proposed LNG projects in B.C., three of which already have approved export licences from the National Energy Board.

The government estimates if five of these proposed facilities move forward, the cumulative gross domestic product benefit to British Columbia could total $1 trillion by 2046.

Critics say B.C.'s natural gas industry contributes to climate change and threatens groundwater supplies with contamination from hydraulic fracturing.