Drilling our way to energy independence…

According to President Obama…

“U.S. oil production is essential. It cannot, though, shield us from global price and supply shocks that we can’t control. We can’t drill our way out of this. We must break our dependence on oil.”


The United States has not even begun to exploit about 60% of its oil & gas potential. While we may very well be on the back side of the decline curve for the areas currently being exploited, we could easily double our daily oil production within a few decades.

 The post-2010 projections following chart are based on informed guess work…

The recent increase in US domestic crude oil production is largely due to the success of deepwater discoveries made in the Gulf of Mexico over the last 10-15 years. Several discoveries in the ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play are each expected to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD).

Emergence of the Lower Tertiary Wilcox Trend in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico

Within a few years (assuming Obama & Boot get defeated next year) the ultra-deepwater fields in the Gulf will likely be producing more than 2 million BOPD. ANWR and the Alaska OCS are a dead-ringers for the North Slope/Prudhoe Bay fields. At peak production, the North Slope was producing 2.5 million BOPD.  Alaska could easily be producing 3-3.5 million BOPD within a few years if ANWR and the Alaska OCS were fully opened to exploration, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline expanded and a gas pipeline installed. Assuming some success on the Pacific & Atlantic OCS and you can add in another 800,000 to 1.5 million BOPD. Continual technological advancements in exploration, drilling and recovery factors should slow the declines in the older, more mature areas.

US domestic crude oil production could easily top 9 million BOPD by 2050. Add in natural gas liquids and refinery gains and the total daily US petroleum liquids production could be pushing 17 million BOPD by 2050. US oil consumption has not increased since 2004. It’s been declining since 2007.  Continued steady progress in increasing energy use efficiency will steadily bring our consumption in-line with our production. The US might eventually even become a net hydrocarbon exporter if we build some LNG export facilities.

The only obstacles to US energy security are the US gov’t and the Greenhadists.

The MMS (now BOEMRE), BLM and other Federal agencies estimate that there are about 116 billion barrels “undiscovered technically recoverable” oil under Federal mineral leases (onshore and offshore). They also estimate that 651 TCF of natural gas remains to be discovered.

About 2/3’s of that “undiscovered technically recoverable” oil & gas is in areas that have never been effectively open to oil & gas exploration.

The map above shows that the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas offshore Alaska are open to exploration.  While technically true, the areas have been effectively closed off by Enviromarxist litigation.  A pair of papers presented by Shell geoscientists at the recent AAPG convention recounted the paralysis of their exploration program by junk lawsuits and regulatory red tape…

Unlocking the Exploration Potential of the U.S. Beaufort Sea Continental Shelf, Offshore Arctic Alaska

Unlocking the Exploration Potential of the U.S. Chukchi Sea Continental Shelf, Offshore Arctic Alaska

The EPA recently blocked Shell’s exploration program in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas because the greenhouse gas emissions of an icebreaker were not properly documented.

The phrase “undiscovered technically recoverable oil” is really an oxymoron. Oil that is undiscovered cannot be technically recoverable… But that’s how the gov’t refers to undiscovered oil.  116 billion barrels of  “undiscovered technically recoverable oil” is equal to about 16 years worth of current US consumption. However, past history shows us that gov’t agencies always grossly underestimate what the oil industry will find and produce. Alaska’s North Slope has already produced 16 billion barrels of petroleum liquids. Currently developed areas will ultimately produce a total of about 30 billion barrels. The government’s original forecast for the North Slope’s total production was 10 billion barrels. The current USGS estimate for undiscovered oil in the Bakken play of Montana & North Dakota is 25 times larger than the same agency’s 1995 estimate. In 1987, the MMS undiscovered resource estimate for the Gulf of Mexico was 9 billion barrels. Today it is 45 billion barrels. ( SOURCE  pp 27-28)

Based on their track record, the 116 billion barrels of undiscovered oil under Federal lands is more likely to be 680 billion barrels. That’s close to 100 years worth of current US consumption – And that’s just the undiscovered oil under Federal mineral leases.

When you factor in unconventional oil plays, the numbers become staggering. The USGS estimates that the Green River formation holds “more than 8 trillion barrels of shale oil in place, with an estimated 1.8 trillion barrels marginally attractive to production.  SOURCE .   A 10% recovery factor (like the Bakken) would yield 180 billion barrels of oil (~25 years worth of US consumption).

President Obama and his Enviromarxist allies are dead wrong… We can drill our way out of this… But only if the US government and Greenhadists get the Hell out of the way!

Instead of sicking his incompetent Attorney General on commodities traders, Obama should be investigating himself, his Department of the Interior and his EPA.


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