Friday, November 13, 2009

US Number One in Total Fossil Fuel Proved Reserves

Image via Robert Rapier
According to this Congressional Research Service PDF report (via Robert Rapier), the US has more total fossil fuels resources proved reserves than any other nation. Russia is a close second, China is a distant third, and Saudi Arabia and Iran are an even more distant fourth and fifth, respectively.
Because proved reserves are, by definition, economically recoverable, the proportion of the oil inthe ground that qualifies as proved reserves grows when prices are high, and shrinks when prices are low. That is, even without new discoveries, oil that may be sub-economic at $30 per barrel becomes economic at $60 per barrel and so the total proved reserves increase simply because price increases. In addition to the volumes of proved reserves are deposits of oil and gas that have not yet been discovered, and those are called undiscovered resources.2 _PDFCongResServreport
Robert Rapier remarks how eventual oil production can be several times as high as "proved reserves" for any given oil field.
In 1982, U.S. reserves were 27.9 billion barrels. In 2005, U.S. reserves were 21.8 billion barrels. But over the course of that 24-year period we produced 57 billion barrels of oil and pulled our reserves down by only 6 billion barrels. _RobertRapier

Over a period of time, proved reserves can actually grow despite pumping large volumes of oil from a field -- due to new discoveries, new technologies for recovery, and natural repletion of fields mistakenly believed to be near exhaustion.

The price of energy also helps determine recoverable reserves, since the higher the price, the farther energy companies are willing to drill, dig, and explore to find new resources.  Peak oil doomsters are not intelligent enough to comprehend the complexity of the energy picture.  They often mistake increases in the price of oil that are due to a collapsing dollar, for shortages of oil from global depletion.  They are not a meaningful threat to a smooth transition into a post-fossil energy age.

The really good news? The report essentially ignores the trillions of barrels of shale oil and heavy oils known to exist in the western US. It also underestimates the quantity of oil, coal, and gas reserves known to exist in large new finds. In other words, the US is tops in fossil reserves without even trying. The really bad news? Obama is president, Pelosi is Speaker of the House, and both of them intend to starve the US into economic coma, for reasons and agendas of their own.

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