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Oil in abundance

Posted by Richard on July 26, 2008

On Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey released a petroleum resource appraisal for the Arctic region that estimated it contains 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids (PDF factsheet). At least a third of the oil is under U.S. territory (Arctic Alaska).

Investor's Business Daily put this study into perspective by noting that:

the U.S. "official" estimate for total oil reserves is 21 billion barrels. So by putting our Arctic resources into play, we would more than double our reserves overnight.

What's more, there could be more oil up there — much more — according to Donald Gautier, who wrote the report.

"Most of the Arctic, especially offshore, is essentially unexplored with respect to petroleum," Gautier said. "The extensive Arctic continental shelves may constitute the geographically largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum remaining on Earth."

That phrase stuck in our mind — "essentially unexplored." How much of the rest of the U.S., including the oil we have offshore, is likewise "essentially unexplored"? And this study only counted oil that could be retrieved using current technologies. So Arctic reserves may ultimately prove to be much larger.

IIRC, at Prudhoe Bay we've already pumped several times as much oil as the original estimate. 

Let's put this in perspective. That 90 billion barrels of Arctic crude is enough to run the entire world economy for three years. And it could fuel the U.S. alone for 12 years.

Using a conservative estimate, let's say we pump 3 million barrels a day after developing these Arctic resources. That would boost total U.S. crude output of 8 million barrels a day by 38%. It would shrink the trade deficit, saving us roughly $137 billion a year in money we now send to Mideast and South American oil potentates, some of whom use the money to train and equip terrorists.

This latest report, by the way, means there are now about 938 billion barrels of oil available for us to take from the Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska and shale-rock formations in the West, based on current technologies and prices of less than $100 a barrel.

That's a century's worth of oil. But the Democrats won't let us drill. And Al Gore wants to leave it in the ground forever, destroying our economy in order to abandon fossil fuels in a decade (an utter pipe dream). 

In a rare instance of unanimity and cojones, on Friday Senate Republicans (sans Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, who understandably have no cojones) blocked Harry Reid's attempt to push through an "energy bill" that does nothing to increase energy supplies. Now the question is: will Congress take meaningful action before their August vacation?

Keep the pressure on — sign those petitions and send those faxes (I chose the $50 fax option, so I'm not asking you to do anything I haven't done).

Drill here, drill now. Let us drill, dammit! 

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