For the first time ever, the United States is estimated to contain more recoverable reserves of oil than any other country in the world, including petrostates like Russia and Saudi Arabia. The FT reports:
Rystad Energy estimates recoverable oil in the US from existing fields, discoveries and yet undiscovered areas amounts to 264bn barrels. The figure surpasses Saudi Arabia’s 212bn and Russia’s 256bn in reserves.
The analysis of 60,000 fields worldwide, conducted over a three-year period by the Oslo-based group, shows total global oil reserves at 2.1tn barrels. This is 70 times the current production rate of about 30bn barrels of crude oil a year, Rystad Energy said on Monday. […]
“There is little potential for future surprises in many other countries, but in the US there is,” said Per Magnus Nysveen, analyst at Rystad Energy, noting recent discoveries in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, which is the nation’s most prolific oil producing area. “Three years ago the US was behind Russia, Canada and Saudi Arabia.” More than half of the US’s remaining oil reserves are in unconventional shale oil, Rystad Energy data show. Texas alone holds more than 60bn barrels of shale oil.
This development comes courtesy of the shale boom, of course, as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling have “unlocked” vast reserves of oil and gas previously thought to be inaccessible. Those dual technologies have fundamentally transformed America’s energy landscape, unleashing a veritable flood of hydrocarbons on the U.S. market and, now that LNG and crude oil exports are now in play, on the global market as well.
This energy revolution has happened virtually overnight, as well. At the start of 2010, the United States was producing roughly 5.5 million barrels of oil per day. Compare that to last summer, when U.S. production topped 9.6 million bpd, and you get an idea of the scale of shale. Sure, America’s output has tapered over the past year as a result of falling crude prices (production is now around 8.6 million bpd), but these new estimates of America’s recoverable reserves paint a rosy picture for the future of our energy security. The U.S. has more oil left to produce than any other country, and it has an industry that’s chomping at the bit to find new and better ways to get that crude out of the ground. All hail shale!