US has more untapped oil than Saudi Arabia or Russia

The day after the United States celebrated Independence Day, news of the US holding more recoverable oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation promoted an already heightened sense of patriotism and economic hope across the nation.

The US now holds an estimated 264 billion of barrels of reserves, compared with 256 billion barrels for Russian Federation and 212 billion barrels for Saudi Arabia., Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy said in a report.

Here is a link to the Bloomberg story talking about the study. This formation alone contains up to 3 trillion barrels of untapped oil shale, half of which may be recoverable. Unconventional oil recovery accounts for 30 percent of the global recoverable oil reserves while offshore accounts for 33 percent of the total.

Rystad achieves these conclusions by calculating together proved reserves, proved and probable existing reserves, estimates of reserves contained in recent discoveries and likely reserves held in as-yet-undiscovered fields. Shale oil is the previously-unreachable crude that, thanks to fracking and new technology, has reshaped the global energy landscape and vaulted the USA into the upper echelon of global oil producers.

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In the state of Texas there is more oil reserves than in the whole of China, 60 million barrels.

The U.S.is in a good spot moving forward because shale oil is more economical to produce than the conventional oil pumped out of Saudi Arabia and OPEC countries.

The US shale boom was a factor behind the recent oil price collapse that toppled the Brent crude benchmark from a mid-2014 high of $115 a barrel to below $30 earlier this year. However, Rystad explains that these numbers are often based on "a diverse and opaque set of standards". The country's self-reported proven oil reserves jumped demonstrably and with little explanation in the late 1980s, and they have remained virtually unchanged for the better part of the last three decades.

While that may sound like a ton of oil, Rystad argues it's actually proof that "there is a relatively limited amount of recoverable oil left on the planet". "Oil alone can not satisfy the growing need for individual transport", Rystad concludes.

  • Delia Davidson