U.S. oil production increasing; untapped reserve world’s largest
Readers probably noticed the recent Associated Press story indicating the U.S. oil output is surging so fast it could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer.
Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 millions barrels per day. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.
The United States will need to continue using lots of oil in the years ahead. Americans use 18.7 million barrels a day. But thanks to the growth in domestic production and improving fuel efficiency of the nation’s cars and trucks, imports could fall by half by the end of the decade.
Because of growing demand in developing nations and political instability in the Middle East and North Africa, prices at the pump are expected to stay relatively high.
Our nation’s increased production should not be a surprise despite the many restrictions on our vast supplies.
The Bakken oil discovery in western South Dakota and extreme eastern Montana is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10 percent (five billion barrels) of oil is recoverable at $107 a barrel, it is a resource base worth more than $5.3 trillion. Also known as the Williston Basin, this is the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years.
North Dakota unemployment is 3 percent, lowest in the nation. Because it is light, sweet oil, it is estimated it will cost $16 per barrel. The 500 billion barrels is enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 2,041 consecutive years, some experts predict.
According to the World Stanberry Report Online, the largest untapped reserve in the world is hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains. It is more than two trillion barrels. On Aug. 8, 2005, President Bush mandated its extraction. Despite more than three years of high oil prices, none has been extracted.
A current estimate is the United States has more oil inside its borders than all the other proven reserves on earth:
• Eight times as much as Saudi Arabia.
• 18 times as much as Iraq.
• 21 times as much as Kuwait.
• 22 times as much as Iran.
James Bartis, lead researcher with the study, told The Denver Post, we have more oil in this very compact area in the western United States than all the proven reserves of crude oil in the remainder of the world. Obviously, at some point in time we as a nation will have to decide what price we will pay to balance our cost of living with that of giving much needed protection to our environment.