The cornucopian case for oil and next gen energy

Brian Wang at Next Big Future provides a ten-point list on the U.S. energy situation that should help put to bed the belief that we’re running full speed off the energy cliff (he also makes a strong case for more nuclear research).

Here’s some ridiculously high numbers of untapped oil in the U.S.:

10. Assigning estimated barrels of oil to various basins and shale oil plays plus including an estimate of yet to be discovered shale oil, I came to an estimate of oil in place. Oil in place in the continental US is from about 3 trillion to 5 trillion barrels of oil not including the 4.5 trillion barrels of oil shale.

1.53 trillion barrels Piceance Basin of Colorado (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
1.44 trillion barrels Green River formation (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
1.32 trillion barrels for the Uinta Basin of Utah and Colorado. (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
260-500 billion barrels Monterey Formation (tight oil)
271-503 billion barrels Bakken Formation (tight oil)

Aggressive use of new fracking technology and combined with fire flooding and water flooding could enable 20-30% recovery rates. Large amounts of the Oil shale is likely recoverable with fire flooding. So 6.5 trillion to 9.5 trillion barrels of oil, with 20-30% recovery rates is 1.3 to 2.8 trillion barrels of oil. Oil Shale like in the Green River Formation cannot be recovered with horizontal drilling. It will require fire flooding or some other likely insitu method.”

Our current global burn rate is estimated to be 85-90K barrels per day. Doing some back of the napkin math — 1.3 trillion barrels of oil from the U.S. alone would last the entire world well over 39,000 years at current consumption levels.

Even accounting for a world population that consistently expands, it’s a solid cornucopian case for oil.

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