Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Estimated 3 - 5 Trillion Barrels of Oil Equivalent in the Continental US -- Not Counting the 3 Trillion BOE in Oil Shales

It is generally best to suppress our wilder instincts toward optimism, so as to prevent painful disappointments in the future. On the other hand, if we are not careful we are likely to vastly underestimate our possibilities, and live much smaller lives than was absolutely necessary. There are times when we need to go crazy-optimistic, in order to try to define the upper bounds of what is possible.

For oil & gas reserves in the continental US, new production capacities have already proven a lot of doomers wrong. I've got a feeling that -- if Americans can get rid of their current destructive leadership of energy starvation -- that US hydrocarbon has just gotten started.

California's Monterey Shale is estimated to contain 500 billion barrels of oil equivalent in place. Estimates for North Dakota's oil shales fall into a similar range (PDF) for oil equivalent in place. But the continental US is underlain with hydrocarbon-bearing shales at various depths and ages. Add the estimates all together, and you might just reach the trillions of barrels, in oil equivalent. Certainly current estimates of economical production below 50 billion barrels are almost certain to be proved wrong, in time.
My estimate of oil in place in the continental US is from about 3 trillion to 5 trillion barrels of oil not including the 3 trillion barrels of oil shale. See this shale play website for a partial list of Shale oil plays and basins in the US. I know this seems very high, but it was only a few short years ago that we were going to need to import huge amounts of liquefied natural gas to meet our demand for natural gas, and now we have a glut of natural gas in the market place because of all the shale natural gas.

We should be able to produce at least 150 billion barrels of oil to maybe 1.0 trillion barrels of oil if the majority of these plays can be water flooded and CO2 injected as in the Canadian Bakken. I used 5% for the low estimate of 3 trillion barrels and 20% of the high estimate 5 trillion barrels figuring they could do some water flood and CO2 tertiary treatment to a large part of this land. For this oil to be recovered, it will require that the oil price stays above $70 a barrel so the economics are in place to fully develop these areas. _SeekingAlpha
The truth is, there will be no need to develop even a fraction of these many barrels of oil equivalent in place, if the energy starvationists would simply get out of the way, and allow human ingenuity to devise safer and more advanced means of utilising non-combustion, nuclear energy technologies. For that to happen, the merry band of energy starvationists in the US White House will require jettisoning, in favour of a more rational group of government administrators.

H/T Brian Wang

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Blogger Harold said...

What if there were a cleaner alternative to oil, gas and coal? An Italian engineer has developed a device that can create prodigious quantities of energy, using just a few grams of nickel powder and ordinary hydrogen gas. There is enough nickel and hydrogen available to supply our energy needs for millions of years

11:14 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

Harold, perhaps you could demonstrate a working model of this device? It sounds as if it might do a world of good.

9:33 AM  

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