Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Can Oil Production in the Americas be Boosted by 16 mmbd?

By the 2020s, the capital of energy will likely have shifted back to the Western Hemisphere, where it was prior to the ascendancy of Middle Eastern megasuppliers such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the 1960s. The reasons for this shift are partly technological and partly political. Geologists have long known that the Americas are home to plentiful hydrocarbons trapped in hard-to-reach offshore deposits, on-land shale rock, oil sands, and heavy oil formations. The U.S. endowment of unconventional oil is more than 2 trillion barrels, with another 2.4 trillion in Canada and 2 trillion-plus in South America -- compared with conventional Middle Eastern and North African oil resources of 1.2 trillion. The problem was always how to unlock them economically.

But since the early 2000s, the energy industry has largely solved that problem. With the help of horizontal drilling and other innovations, shale gas production in the United States has skyrocketed from virtually nothing to 15 to 20 percent of the U.S. natural gas supply in less than a decade. By 2040, it could account for more than half of it. _FP
Brian Wang links to a story in Foreign Policy which suggests that oil production in the Americas could be boosted by up to 16 million barrels per day! Such a large daily production boost would involve multiple sources, including shale oils, heavy oils, oil sands, oil shale kerogens, and offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico and off of the Brazilian coast. Examples:
...analysts are predicting production of as much as 1.5 million barrels a day in the next few years from resources beneath the Great Plains and Texas alone...

...Brazil is believed to have the capacity to pump 2 million barrels a day from "pre-salt" deepwater resources, deposits of crude found more than a mile below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean that until the last couple of years were technologically inaccessible. Similar gains are to be had in Canadian oil sands, where petroleum is extracted from tarry sediment in open pits. And production of perhaps 3 million to 7 million barrels a day more is possible if U.S. in situ heavy oil, or kerogen, can be produced commercially... _FP

US President Obama's ongoing de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, US Arctic, etc. is costing the US roughly one quarter of a million jobs or more, and a huge amount of daily oil production.

Petrobras is showing strong profits, and has ambitious plans for offshore production.

Energy companies are rushing to Ohio to develop large shale oil deposits

Texas is riding high on new oil discoveries and technologies

Development of the huge bitumen and heavy oil deposits in Canada and Venezuela, and oil shale kerogens in the US, will be a challenge. But if the market demand for liquid hydrocarbons expands as has been predicted, new technologies to develop these resources in an environmentally responsible manner will be developed.

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