Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shale Oil Boom Comes to More US Plains States

The ongoing US shale oil boom is helping to reverse the decline in US oil production, which began sometime around 1970. Although the US Obama administration has hampered oil production offshore, in the Arctic, and in the Rocky Mountain regions, Obama's energy starvation policies have been caught flat-footed by the rapid growth spurt in shale oils across the lower 48.

Some of the latest areas in the US to experience the boom are the high plains areas overlying the Niobrara shale.
Shale oil is not to be confused with another potential resource, usually called "oil shale," which is found in huge volume in the Green River Formation of western Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. That is actually a crude oil precursor known as kerogen, which would require major heating and processing to be turned into usable fuel. Its development is seen as far off in the future.

But the shale oil now being produced through fracking is conventional crude oil, produced using unconventional means.

Roaring early success has led to outsize projections that shale oil, also known as "tight oil," that could boost U.S. production significantly over the coming decades. "There's potential for it to be a game changer," says Hill Vaden, an energy analyst at the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

But he cautions, "It's still in its early days, and there are a lot of questions."

(Related: "Methane on Tap: Study Links Pollution to Gas Drilling" and "New Brunswick Seeks Natural Gas, and a Safer Way")

Enthusiasm is spurred by production in another shale formation, the Bakken, which lies under North Dakota and Montana and stretches into Canada. Oil production in the U.S. portion of the Bakken went from 3,000 barrels a day in 2005 to about 400,000 now. The Bakken contains about 3.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil, making it the largest U.S. oil play since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska was identified in the 1960s, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates.

Last year, U.S. oil production reached its highest level since 2004, about 5.5 million barrels per day, with North Dakota the state posting the largest increase in oil output.

North America's oil resources are "proving to be much larger than previously thought," thanks in part to shale oil, said a report this month from the U.S. National Petroleum Council (NPC), a federally chartered, privately funded government advisory board. It predicted that what it called "tight oil" production would grow to between 2 million and 3 million barrels per day, "depending on access to new plays and continued technology development."

At that rate, the new shale oil would not be enough to wean the U.S. from its foreign oil dependence, with the nation's current consumption habit of about 19 million barrels per day of petroleum products. But it could significantly bolster domestic supply. _NatGeo

This explosion of new jobs across the US plains is spurring yet another in a long series of migrations of workers, as workmen follow the jobs wherever they crop up. This has been a characteristic of the US since its beginning -- the quasi migratory nature of much of its workforce.

This shale boom of oil & gas is one of the few bright spots in the Obama economy. So it seems more than a bit paradoxical that Obama's EPA and Department of the Interior continue working in attempts to find an excuse to shut it down -- or at least slow it to a crawl, as happened with offshore Gulf of Mexico oil exploration due to Obama's de facto offshore moratorium.

A growing number of US voters will be watching the incumbent US administration, to see how far it is willing to go to shut down US energy production, and further destroy US jobs and economic prospects. The more voters who catch on to Obama's anti-energy and anti-private sector prejudices and bigotry, the more dismal the US President's chances of re-election will become.



Blogger VACornell said...

There are four States at the top...
Note that Alaska is second, but, at near it's beginning,
It produced two million barrels per day. The pipeline is
At but 25 percent of its pumping capacity. What a waste
When we know there are very large amounts of oil there.
Texas owns everything in the State that is not private..
part of it's joining the Union. Let's give Alaska to the
Alaskans....they will manage it correctly...
Vern Cornell

7:36 PM  

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