The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Aussies Strike Black Gold

Move over, America, there’s a new shale oil giant in town. An Australian drilling company found a huge shale oil deposit potentially containing enough oil to match the reserves of Saudi Arabia. Australia News brings us the story:

Brisbane company Linc Energy yesterday released two reports, based on drilling and seismic exploration, estimating the amount of oil in the as yet untapped Arckaringa Basin surrounding Coober Pedy ranging from 3.5 billion to 233 billion barrels of oil.

At the higher end, this would be “several times bigger than all of the oil in Australia”, Linc managing director Peter Bond said. [ . . . ]

Mr Bond said the potential in [South Australia] was “massive”, but even at the lower end of estimates—about 3.5 billion barrels—it was still very large.

It’s not clear yet how much oil is recoverable, but even at the low end the field would include as much shale oil as America’s Bakken formation, which has helped transform U.S. energy production and the global energy landscape. If higher estimates prove more accurate, Australia could join the U.S. as one of the world’s top oil producers.

There are plenty of obstacles for Australia to overcome on its way to extracting this shale oil. The U.S. has led the shale energy revolution because of its access to capital and its geological and technological advantages—advantages that Australia doesn’t quite have. And the water-intensive hydraulic fracturing process needed to access the shale will pose problems for arid Oz.

Still, this is great news for Australia. The global landscape of energy producers continues to shift.

Published on January 24, 2013 9:43 am