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"Enough oil to COMPLETELY REPLACE all imports"

Tom Flake puts up a post at my place that's more than a little eye-opening:

You may have heard some say that we are the Saudi Arabia of coal.  It turns out that the data shows we are also the Saudi Arabia of oil.  Note: The headings on the columns are in Millions of Barrels and Trillions of Cubic Feet.  This means that the USGS estimates that the United States has 1.5 Trillion Barrels of oil and 45 Billion Barrels of liquid natural gas resources.  For comparison, Saudi Arabia has about 260 Billion Barrels of reserves, about 1/5 the United States!  And according to Wikileaks, those may have been overstated by as much as 40%, to encourage foreign investment.  It is possible that Saudi Arabia has only 1/9 as much oil as the United States!

BTW my estimate is conservative because it doesn't include Canadian oil shale or tar sands, both of which  have quantities greater than the Canadians are ever likely to use, thus selling to us makes great sense for them and further alleviates our need for oil from outside North America.

Admittedly, the lion's share of the U.S deposits reside  in the Green River Formation located in the western region of the lower 48, in the form of oil shale, which is difficult to extract and only economical to recover above the $70 per barrel price.  Every time an oil company THINKS about developing the Green River, the world price for crude mysteriously (or not) lowers to below the economical level of development.  In the world of private enterprise, uncertainty is a killer when you are trying to raise capital to finance a project making this an area the government ought to intervene as a matter of national security.  Its location makes it more attractive on the other hand, because it is in the lower 48 making it more difficult for those who wish us ill to cut the supply lines by sinking tankers or blocking the Suez canal. 

Think about it this way.  How many jobs would be created in drilling the wells, creating the processing facilities, the refineries, the pipelines, and the ancillary industries, trucks, drill heads, piping etc.? AND at $100 per barrel we are spending $730 Billion dollars per year overseas.  If we could keep that money in the domestic economy and tax it, how much better off would the federal budget be? Finally, most of this oil sits on Federal land, if the government charged $20 per barrel in royalties to the oil companies, how much of the national debt could we pay down?  1.4 Trillion Barrels x $20 = More than enough.

Lots more where that came from, with charts and links.


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Comments (19)

If Barry knew what were goo... (Below threshold)

If Barry knew what were good for his reelection bid he would 'drill baby drill". He is too ideologically stuck on stupid to fathom the idea though.

I've long been hostile to d... (Below threshold)
James H:

I've long been hostile to drilling on federal lands, but if we're going to do it, fine. I don't care enough to stand in the way anymore. But the leases have to reflect the actual value of that oil in some way, and can't be de facto subsidies for the oil companies.

The standard of living for ... (Below threshold)

The standard of living for all Americans will be improved greatly.

That would be real hope and change.

Looks like the science is s... (Below threshold)

Looks like the science is settled.

Yeah, but leftists have a f... (Below threshold)
Tsar Nicholas II:

Yeah, but leftists have a force field that surrounds them, blocking all common sense, logic and sane judgment, so these items largely will fall on deaf ears.

Actually, in the long term ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Actually, in the long term the best strategy would be to consume all of the oil in the middle east and THEN develop our resources. I have no problem in getting them to sell us their oil at what will ultimately prove to be rock bottom prices.

In the long term if by thou... (Below threshold)

In the long term if by thousands of years? Things change so fast around here in 2 years, I cant imagine a 100 years out even.

Well in that case what's wi... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Well in that case what's with all the conservation crap?

With the typical Audacity o... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

With the typical Audacity of Dope, Obama used an Appeal to Authority by claiming his idiotic policy is approved by T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oilman. What he fails to mention is that Pickens' latest scam is trying to get $2 billion worth of taxpayer subsidy for his new wind power venture.

My attitude has long been that of jim m @ #6 above. Ever since people have complained about our "dependence upon foreign oil," I've wondered why we worried about using up all their oil first, keeping ours for as long as possible. But now the need to keep the domestic oil industry vibrant and the soaring prices make it only reasonable to at least explore all our options - we don't even know for sure how much is offshore because the enviro-nut leftists has successfully stopped even that level of exploration.

One quibble:"..how... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

One quibble:

"..how much of the national debt could we pay down? 1.4 Trillion Barrels x $20 = More than enough."

Sadly, no. If Social Security and Medicare stay as-is, then our national debt is over 100 trillion.
Frankly, finding more money to flow into the govt is not the answer. In fact, it may be actively harmful because it will lessen the urgency of the budget hawks.

Only cutting is the answer. Maybe it will take some combination of new taxes and new incoming revenues and deep spending cuts to get it passed; but the main thing desperately needed is cuts.

With Obambi, his refusal to... (Below threshold)

With Obambi, his refusal to drill is a feature, not a bug.

I don't agree with the idea of waiting to use our oil last because it generates jobs and geopolitical security *now*, when we need them. Decoupling US oil demand from the global market would very much be in the national security interests of the US, but Barry wants a state of fear to push his expensive energy green dreams.

James H ...those l... (Below threshold)

James H ...

those leases are paid for up front and any oil discovered and pumped has a royalty paid to the federal government per barrel ...

we have never just given land to the oil companies to plunder ...

Every time an oil compan... (Below threshold)

Every time an oil company THINKS about developing the Green River, the world price for crude mysteriously (or not) lowers to below the economical level of development.

The same thing seems to happen any time anyone announces a new biofuel production process. If the process is said to be profitable at $X/bbl, why then the price drops to a dollar or two from X -- maybe enough to make an operating profit, but never enough to pay back the capital investment. Either that, or mysterious complaints arise from nowhere to bankrupt the companies involved with extended litigation and/or government red tape. Like that company a few years ago that developed a way to make complex hydrocarbons from turkey byproducts and other farm waste. Their prototype factory was shut down repeatedly by phony complaints of bad odors, and finally they went bankrupt and shut down completely.

Far be it from me to suggest a conspiracy, especially as I can't stand conspiracy nuts and lose no chance to mock them mercilessly ... but it seems like More Than Coincidence.

Tap and cap our oil - get a... (Below threshold)

Tap and cap our oil - get a low price for foreign oil and any time OPEC wants to raise the price we use our own until they drop their price again.

Jeff:Let's just sa... (Below threshold)
James H:


Let's just say that I don't trust anybody in the political-industrial complex; I wouldn't put it past some folks in that group to try to craft a deal that doesn't give the US sufficient value for the oil-drilling rights.

Drilling our own oil today ... (Below threshold)

Drilling our own oil today means that every day after we can tell another middle eastern savage to pound his own oil up his exhaust pipe.

I suggest we are still seve... (Below threshold)

I suggest we are still severely underestimating our energy potential even if you accept the potential sources and quantities mentioned above. The missing element is thorium based nuclear reactor technology. This is not pie in the sky. It was originally developed and tested in the 1960s. Here are some quotes about this technology from the Wikipedia entry. "A thorium fuel cycle offers several potential advantages over a uranium fuel cycle including much greater abundance on Earth, superior physical and nuclear properties of the fuel, enhanced proliferation resistance, and reduced nuclear waste production. Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), has worked on developing the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors. Rubbia states that a tonne of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal." And here is the clincher. "The Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA), an educational advocacy organization, emphasizes that 'there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years.'" No one, certainly not our esteemed President, is talking about this technology and when and how it can be thrown into a comprehensive national energy plan.

Why are people so stupid? I... (Below threshold)

Why are people so stupid? It doesn't matter how many trillions of barrels of oil you have in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, If the same companys own those resources they will control prices. People, the oil companies made 37 trillion dollars in profit. In a global free economy somethings are too important for free greedy corporations to control at our cost.

Marc,State and Fed... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:


State and Federal Governments make more in taxes on a gallon of Gasoline than anyone else involved in drilling it, pumping it, refining it, and selling it does.






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