Peak Oil? U.S. Oil Reserves Hit Levels Not Seen In 42 Years

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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U.S. proved crude oil reserves hit levels not seen since 1972, surpassing 39 billion barrels in 2014, according to newly released federal data.

America’s proved crude oil reserves have grown for the past six consecutive years, according to the Energy Information Administration, and are now at levels not seen in 42 years. Crude reserves jumped 3.4 billion barrels from 2013 to 2014– a 9 percent increase.

“Texas added 2.1 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves… mostly located within the Texas portion of the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale play,” EIA reported Monday, adding that “North Dakota added 0.4 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves… mostly from the Bakken Shale play.” Lease condensate proved reserves are produced when oil is extracted.

Low oil prices have hampered producers in the last year, forcing them to cut jobs and investments to stay afloat. But the technology used to get at U.S. oil reserves is still there, and it keeps getting better all the time.

As EIA notes, “proved reserves” are those which can likely be extracted under current technology and economic conditions, so it shouldn’t be too surprising there’s more “proved” oil today than four decades ago.

U.S. proven natural gas reserves are at record levels as well, thanks to hydraulic fracturing, fracking, and horizontal drilling operations springing up across the country. Like with crude oil, fracking has allowed drillers to get at previously unrecoverable hydrocarbons, setting off an energy boom in the process.

“U.S. proved natural gas reserves set a record in 2014,” according to EIA.

“Proved reserves of U.S. total natural gas increased 34.8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) to 388.8 Tcf in 2014,” EIA noted. “This increase (9.8 percent) boosts the national total of proved natural gas reserves to a record-high level for the second consecutive year.”

EIA proved reserves

Source: Energy Information Administration

Booming oil and gas production has helped to increase America’s energy security and allow the country to become less reliant on energy sources from OPEC and more unstable parts of the world. U.S. and Canadian oil production also put huge downward pressure on oil prices, contributing to the price collapse in 2014 from more than $100 in the summer to about $50 a barrel today.

OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, responded by increasing production, further driving down oil prices. Observers have said the Saudi’s did this to push U.S. crude out of the market and increase their global market shares.

While U.S. production has fallen slightly, OPEC members are struggling to finance their vast welfare states with falling oil export revenues.

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