Study: US Has More Oil Reserves Than Saudis And Russians

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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America has more oil reserves than both Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to a study published Monday by the Norwegian oil and gas consulting firm Rystad Energy.

The study estimates that America has 264 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil in existing fields, proven reserves and even in fields that haven’t been discovered yet. America’s reserves are larger than Saudi Arabia’s 212 billion and Russia’s 256 billion in oil reserves. The state of Texas alone has roughly 60 billion barrels of shale oil according to the study.

Rystad Energy estimates that there are 2,092 billion barrels in total global oil reserves, or 70 times the current production rate. For comparison, all the oil ever produced up until 2015 only amounts to 1,300 billion barrels.

“There is little potential for future surprises in many other countries, but in the US there is,” Per Magnus Nysveen, an analyst at Rystad Energy, told The Financial Times Monday. “Three years ago the US was behind Russia, Canada and Saudi Arabia.”

American oil and natural gas reserves are at their highest levels since 1972. American reserves of crude oil and natural gas have risen for six consecutive years despite the U.S. producing more oil and natural gas than any other country. Oil production last year was 80 percent higher than it was in 2008.

The massive expansion of America’s oil reserves is due to new drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing, fracking, and horizontal drilling. The American frakcing boom was the driving factor behind the recent oil price collapse from a mid-2014 high of $115 a barrel to below $30 earlier this year.

These innovations have allowed America to increase its oil production faster than at any time in history. The process helped America surpass Russia as the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of oil last year. American oil production in 2015 was 80 percent higher than it was in 2008. The U.S. produced an average of about 9.3 million barrels of crude oil per day in June.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2000 America got roughly 2 percent of its oil, about 102,000 barrels per day, from fracking. America got 51 percent of its oil, about 4.3 million barrels per day, from fracking in 2015.

The study does not include oil shale, which excludes the fact that America controls the world’s largest untapped oil reserve, the Green River Formation in Colorado. This formation alone contains up to 3 trillion barrels of untapped oil shale, half of which may be recoverable. That’s five and a half times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. This single geologic formation could contain more oil than the rest of the world’s proven reserves combined.

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