U.S. Oil Reserves Counterpoint


The question is what are the facts concerning the present U.S. oil reserves? What are we as a nation able to produce? What are the present U.S. proven oil reserves, and the annual usage? Can the U.S. proven oil reserves be increased?


Since writing this article the economy has changed. Read this article about “Low oil prices force oil drills to a halt.

The U.S. proven oil reserves is a little less than 21 billion barrels in 2006 according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). U.S. crude production peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million barrels per day, and had declined to 5.1 million barrels per day by 2006. This represents about an 11year supply of oil reserves at current rates of production. United States crude oil production has been declining. Over 2.3 million wells having been drilled in the U.S. since 1949, and oil consumption is nearly four times as high as oil production. A May 2008 assessment by the EIA estimated a massive oil deposit could increase U.S. reserves by 10 fold and potential cumulative production of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be a maximum of 4.3 billion barrels from 2018 to 2030. This estimate is a best-case scenario of technically recoverable oil during the area’s primary production years if legislation were passed in 2008 to allow drilling. Expected oil rich basins are unexplored and undeveloped. The social, environmental, and economic aspects of development will be challenging.


The United States maintains a Strategic Oil Reserve at four sites in the Gulf of Mexico, with a total capacity of 727 million barrels of crude oil.


U.S. Petroleum Basic Statistics (2007):

U.S. petroleum consumption                                                   20,680,000 barrels/day

U.S. motor gasoline consumption                                             9,286,000 barrels/day

U.S. crude oil production                                                          5,064,000 barrels/day

State ranking (Texas) of crude oil production                         1,087,000 barrels/day

U.S. crude oil imports (5,980,000 barrels/day from OPEC) 10,031,000 barrels/day

Number of U.S. operable petroleum refineries                                                     150

U.S. proven oil reserves                                                            20,972,000 barrels


According to the EIA, oil production in the U.S. comes mainly from Texas (25% from shore and offshore), Alaska (24% onshore), California (21% shore), and Louisiana (14% from onshore and offshore).


According to the EIA, the main suppliers of oil to the U.S. at this time are; Canada (1.68 million barrels per day), Saudi Arabia (1.49 million barrels per day), Venezuela (1.46 million barrels per day), and Mexico (1.35 million barrels per day). 


What is running low is oil in fields that have already been tapped and are in production — in other words, the relatively easy-to-get stuff, which oil companies have proven exists and can get at with current technology. Those reserves are clearly being drained. It is from this same tapped and leased land of the present Democratic Congress provision requiring oil and gas companies to develop on already leased lands before obtaining new leases would curb future U.S. production. Besides taking time to dig more wells, it would only deplete the existing U.S. oil fields quicker, leaving the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil.


A point that is not commonly pointed out, despite the U.S. being “the world’s largest importer of oil and refined products, the U.S. also exports fossil fuels. As of March, the latest data available, U.S. oil refiners were exporting more than 1.8 million barrels a day of crude oil, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products. The top five destinations for U.S. fuel were Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, Chile and Singapore.” “What this proves is that the market for oil and fuel is global, it doesn’t matter where it came from. What matters is where the seller can get the best price. This proves that a quick short time fix of rearranging the existing oil reserves will probably have little effect in reduction of oil price.”


Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.


From the facts, the proven U.S. oil fields and the global oil market are declining. Unless something happens the cost of oil will continue to rise. Since the U.S. must start to lead, maybe it is time to allow the offshore oil drilling or drilling at the Bakken Formation in North Dakota. More oil at the present time is not necessarily the answer; it is how to control the oil.