Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eagle Ford, Bakken, Elk Hills Only the Beginning

Impressive new oil finds in Texas, California, North Dakota, and the Gulf of Mexico are encouraging to oil prospectors.

Although North America is by far the most over-explored continent in terms of fossil fuels resources, with the price of oil above $75 a barrel, we can expect the new finds to keep coming. The combination of new remote sensing exploration technologies with new drilling technologies means that "everything old is new again" in terms of finding rich energy deposits -- even in North America.

Many oil fields are considered depleted after giving up 33% or so of their oil. But now, even in the old fields once thought to be dead, new technologies of production are bringing dead wells back to life, squeezing ever higher proportions of residual oil out of the wells.

If technology can do all of that for North American fields -- the most picked over and extensively prospected and drilled of all the continents -- what do you think it will do for the massively rich oil fields on other, far less explored, continents?

Peak oil doomers believe that this is the end. They think that oil peaked in 2005 and it is all downhill from here. But smarter folks are beginning to see that this is only the beginning. Not only is there far more flexibility in demand than people thought, but there is also a great deal more flexibility on the supply side than most people expected.

If high oil prices continue, if the easy money policy of central banks combined with the ongoing speculative frenzy -- investors desperate to find safe yet high yielding investments -- continue, the higher prices for oil will bring a lot of new players into the oil discovery and production markets. It is already beginning to happen.

And that is a good thing, because it is better for big money to be invested in solving a problem like energy supply, than to be jumping around from one huge investment bank's speculative division to another.

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