The USGS EUR per well of 1.2 bcf did not grossly understate the actual EUR per well of 6.4 bcf simply because of technological improvements over the last 13 years, although that certainly is a significant factor. Rather, the USGS EUR was based on speculation made at a time when there was no reliable production history, and the estimate is of no more import today than was the estimate by Columbus of the diameter of the Earth when he landed in Hispanola and thought that he was in India. We do not now assert that the diameter of the Earth has doubled since the time of Columbus. Rather, we simply say that Columbus was wrong. Simiarly, the USGS estimate was speculation, was not based on real production data, and has been proved to be dead wrong. Get over it.
As to the origins of the anomalous increase in methane levels in the Bakken and Eagle Ford areas, Mike Ferguson made some very good points in his comment on this post, and I will reiterate them here briefly. Firstly, the margin of error in the measurements is extremely large, and the actual magnitude of the anomaly may very well be much lower than the 9% - 10% reported in the post. The post by Mr. Romm made no mention of the high degree of uncertainty, as is typical of his writing.
Much more significantly, as Mr. Ferguson points out, the study focused on oil plays, not gas plays. As the referenced study states, the enhancement patterns in the Haynesville shale gas play are "less clear." That's an evasive way of saying that there is no demonstrable methane anomaly associated with shale gas production from the Haynesville.
The authors of the study suggest that the presence of the methane anomaly over oil plays and not gas plays is due to producers in the oil plays being less diligent about controlling leakage. I strongly doubt this, as this would be a very dangerous practice, and no ground measurements have demonstrated such leakages in oil plays, as far as I know.
Rather, I strongly suspect that the cause of the methane anomaly over the oil plays studied, whatever its magnitude, is the common practice of flaring in oil plays. Flaring is common in relatively remote oil plays, as the cost of installing the infrastructure to transport and market the gas exceeds the market value of the gas. Flaring certainly releases significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere, as combustion is never 100% efficient.
This could be easily remedied by phasing in a ban on flaring, requiring the producers to either to reinject the gas, or to develop the infrastructure to transport it to market. Many countries have banned flaring, and I have been bemused for years to see that it is still allowed in the U.S.
That is what is so unfortunate about the (typically) misleading presentation of the topic by Mr. Romm. The discussion could have been used to identify and highlight means by which to enhance environmental practice while optimizing production operations while continuing to establish energy security both nationally and globally. Instead, and not surprisingly, Mr. Romm chose to produce a highly sensational and misleading post.