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Why is Obama Lying About US Oil Reserves?

By MasterResource | Tue, 20 March 2012 22:55 | 20

“With only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” President Barack Obama said in his weekly address March 10. “Not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil.”

The claim is, if not blatantly false, at best grossly misleading. If the President didn’t know this, some advisors should be dismissed. If he did, he needs to accept the blame and formally correct it.
As Investors Business Daily explained,

… the figure Obama uses—proved oil reserves—vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil-poor, the country is awash in vast quantities—enough to meet all the country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.

The Oil Scarcity Myth

The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources,” because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.

How much recoverable oil does the U.S. have in addition to the 22.3 billion Obama had in mind? Start with the Green River Formation in Wyoming: 1.4 trillion barrels—sixty-two times as much as Obama counts.

After Green River, it’s almost embarrassing to count other sources: 86 billion on the outer continental shelf; 24 billion in the lower 48; 2 billion on Alaska’s north slope; 19 billion in Utah tar sands; 12 billion in ANWR. Then add in oil shale: 800 billion just in Wyoming and neighboring states. As IBD sums it up: “When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.”

These estimates are almost sure to rise over time—to anywhere from three or four to twenty or twenty-five times as much. Those are the ranges of error on past official estimates of recoverable oil. Here is what Robert Bradley Jr. calculated back in 2000 for the carbon-based energies:

Proved oil reserves today are estimated to be fifteen times greater than the original 1948 estimate despite interim production of eleven times this amount.  World natural gas reserves in the last thirty years have increased almost five-fold despite interim production that has been 80 percent above the 1967 estimate. World coal reserves today are estimated to be over four times the amount calculated nearly a half-century ago.

So, which is it, Mr. President? Did you know these facts? Or did your advisors mislead you? One way or the other, the outcome was that you misled the American people—not slightly, but grossly.

One of Obama’s Democratic predecessors, Harry Truman, famously kept a sign on his desk in the Oval Office: “The buck stops here.”

 Harry Truman

Misinformed, or misinforming, either way, Mr. Obama is responsible. If he won’t embrace that responsibility, the American people should impose it on him.

By. E. Calvin Beisner

This article was provided by MasterResource

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  • Bill Ball on March 21 2012 said:
    First of all oil shale is not oil. Second if they have not found a way in the last 100 year to make it commercially viable I do not think they are going to anytime soon. Your estimates are way off. Trying to convince people that there is all this oil in the U.S. is a huge disservice to the people of this country. People need go face the truth and act accordingly and the truth is we only have 2% of the worlds Provence oil reserves while we continue to use 20% of the worlds oil.
  • Philip Andrews on March 21 2012 said:
    I'm sorry to be blunt but this is idiotic.

    A real expert like Gail Tverberg has repeatedly pointed out that it is economically recoverable oil that counts not just whatever happens to be lying around.

    I don't know who 'Masterresource'is but it wouls seem this person is talking out of their hat...to be polite...
  • mike on March 21 2012 said:
    From a Canadian. Obama sounds correct. Obama only included proved & recoverable reserves according to actual stats and the writer of this article inflated numbers to make Obama look bad. If you inflate numbers, which you can, then you should include the world's undiscovered and shales; then USA would actually only be at 1.7% oil reserves and is using 17% of world's oil. Now with China's growth slowing; by 2016 (Next USA election) USA will be in trouble unless you start importing cheaper oil and free up trade world wide and reduce sanctions. Oh ~ lets do it the USA way and drill more starting today and keep prices high ang gouge our own people...
  • Mel Tisdale on March 21 2012 said:
    Its election year. You are going to get many more articles like this one the nearer the election comes. Next it will probably be something about gun laws from the Democrats or some other topic close to their heart.

    The sad thing is that oil is too important an issue to play politics with. It lubricate the economy while over heating the planet and the debate should be at a level that reflects those facts. Our children and grandchildren will never forgive us if we just let it be a political football as Master Resource would have us do.
  • Donna Jones on March 21 2012 said:
    2,303 billion barrels of undiscovered oil- in the US? Do you really think the big oil companies are that stupid and lazy that they have not found most of the easy to get at oil in the US? If it is undiscovered, then how is it estimated? And, what kind of oil? Shale oil is very low grade, expensive both in dollars and environmental impact to get at. If this oil was possible/easy/financially prudent to get at, you can be the oil companies would already have done so. This article is disinformation, not news.
  • AJ4USA on March 22 2012 said:
    OK all you libs that claim there isn't recoverable oil here in the USA. If there isn't oil, why stop the oil companies from drilling? After all, according to you, it will just be a hole in the ground. Plus the oil companies will lose a large portion of their profits, just what you want.
  • Clive on March 22 2012 said:
    No one can drill for oil on Federal land, unless some one says its ok. Sorry Its not going to happen. And Were not drilling on priviate land anymore because we did not get permission. Guess we will look for greener pastures somewhere else. I'm thinking of southamerica no #1 .
  • Max Reid on March 23 2012 said:
    Read this article my friend

    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/US-May-Hold-Large-Reserves-of-Shale-Oil-but-is-it-Economically-Out-of-Reach.html

    Not only the shale oil takes lot of energy to drill, but they also run out in just 3 years.

    Besides we need the Hydrogen from Natgas to mix with Carbon rich Shale Oil and produce Motor fuels like Gasoline, Kerosene & Diesel

    To summarize Shale Oil is not Crude Oil.
  • Philip Andrews on March 23 2012 said:
    It would seem that Masterresource vhas had his backside well and truly kicked on this one!

    Oilprice.com is actually a 'dangerous' site for such 'disinformers' to venture into because there are so many better than usually informed people here who can deliver a robust and intelligent response.

    I tend to get annoyed by responses such as AJ4USA who seem to get fixed that if you're not a (neo)Con you're a knee jerk Lib...

    Hasn't occured to some people that on this site we get a lot of very intelligent REALISTS who can see both sides (very often) and rrespond accordingly...
  • Mark on April 13 2012 said:
    The repugs are complete idiots. It takes more energy to extract the oil from oil shale that the oil provides. This is because the shale (a rock) has to be dug up, crushed and then boiled to extract the oil. It would take the power from a number of nuclear reactors to be even feasible, and it would not be profitable. Better to build the reactors to produce electrical energy, and produce a lot of electric cars. All the known reserves of oil will be gone in about 25 yrs or so anyway (taking into account consumption increases), so get used to it. Don't believe it? Look it up. Do the math. Its a simple division problem.
  • Paul on May 01 2012 said:
    Rather than just talk about reserves, I would like it if authors talk about energy returned on energy invested (EROEI).

    After all, it is NET energy that is the important factor when talking about energy from an economic perspective.

    Environmental impact is another important factor to take into account. Sure, humans transform the planet, but the consequences of the transformation need to be considered, from the point of impact on human life, health of ecosystems and biodiversity.

    Without these important issues factored in, articles like this tend to be rather meaningless and end up being more about political spin than anything else.
  • modfaith on May 22 2012 said:
    California is a fiscal trainwreck because it is run by environmental-extremist wackos. Now Obama and his leftist minions who have no fiscal clue want to do the same thing to the whole country - why ?? If California re-opened offshore drilling we would have enough money to pay for all the illegal immagrents schooling and healthcare. The lying libs don't give a shit about the environment or your kids. It's about power - if you give free shit to stupid people and keep them as an underclass they will vote for you.
  • J Stuart on September 01 2012 said:
    First of all, the oil shale in the Green River looks like rock. Unlike the hydrocarbons in the tight oil formations, the oil shale (kerogen) consists of very heavy hydrocarbons that are solid. In that way, oil shale more resembles coal than oil. It is not at all clear that even at $100 oil the shale in the Green River formation will be commercialized to produce oil. In order to commercially convert the oil shale into oil, a much less energy intensive method of producing it must be found (or, one would have to have extremely cheap energy and abundant water supplies to drive the process).

    Second, 2.3 billion barrels of "Undiscoverd oil"? Why not just say 100 Trillion Barrels? It's undiscoverd so nobody knows. It could just as well be "0"
  • Oily Bird on September 06 2012 said:
    2.3 trillion barrels of undiscovered resources? Hey anybody want to buy my house? There's 700 billion barrels of oil under it--undiscovered as yet.

    Here's the old Oil Price Blog misstating or misunderstanding or lying about oil for some arcane reason.

    22 billion barrels of "proved reserve"--OK I buy that.
    400 billion barrels of "technically recoverable oil"
    STOP a minnit. That 400 billion is part of the remaining 3.1 trillion shale and "undiscovered resources"--like those under my house.

    The Bakken is supposed to have 500 billion barrels of oil. Fracking makes about 5% of that "technically recoverable". That makes the Bakken a lot like North Slope in barrels. Y'all remember the North slope/ North America's oil savior in the 1980's? Now producing about 250,000 barrels a day--almost sucked dry. Yep, 2% about right, till Superman starts suckin it out.
  • Gregory on September 13 2012 said:
    Okay, I'm confused, I don't see where he lied or was even remotely misleading. The US has 2% of the world's proved oil reserves, is this not true? The argument seems to be that we should be looking at total recoverable oil resources, is there some reason that when we look at the world's recoverable oil resources the percentage goes any higher?

    Why would the US have 2% of the proven oil resources but some much higher percentage of the total overall resources? Am I missing something here?

    The only conceivable explanation is that the author expects us to compare the America's total recoverable oil resources to the worlds proved oil resources, comparing apples to oranges. To me that would be blatantly false and misleading.
  • Scott Vines on October 04 2012 said:
    From Wikipedia article on Shale Oil Extraction:

    "The United States Department of Energy estimates that the ex-situ processing would be economic at sustained average world oil prices above US$$54 per barrel and in-situ processing would be economic at prices above $35 per barrel."
  • Katrina G on November 01 2012 said:
    I really enjoyed reading the post by Oily Bird! Thank you for your comment! And to each and everyone else who had an intellectual comment regarding the article above.
    Undiscovered oil? As so many others have pointed out, if it's undiscovered as of yet, don't count it as usable oil. Using that logic, I have undiscovered millions and billions of dollars sitting in a bank account, and I should go ahead and spend as though it's already there! That would just be foolish, just as telling people that the US is gonna be okay when it comes to oil reserves because we have trillions of barrels of undiscovered oil. Give me a break.
  • art on November 23 2012 said:
    The US signed a treaty with Saudi years ago. The Saudis agreed to keep oil priced in dollars and the US agreed not to fully exploit US reserves until the price hits $200 per barrel. Who knows what we really have underground, but it is apparent the middle east has more oil than anywhere else. It is also apparent we have the biggest appetite for oil and we continue to use it like there is no end.
  • Numbers6 on February 19 2013 said:
    Funny the eia.gov website hasn't updated the proven US reserves since 2010, they're not even sure how much oil the US has. Venezuela on the other hand has recently had a large increase in reserves. Also odd is how Russia's number has been fixed for many years, they're not telling either. I calculate world reserves would run out in 2047 at known reserves and 2011 consumption increasing 1% per year. It is a simple finance formula using bbls instead of $. The good news is that proven reserves keep going up faster than consumption.
  • Lorrin M on July 24 2013 said:
    It's amazing how so many talk so much about what they know so little of...

    Fact..The US uses 23 percent of world oil production 2013
    Fact... the US produces about 11 percent world oil equivelant per day
    Fact...They just announced a large field in southern CA, a 100 percent increase in Texas reserves, a 110 percent increase in reserves in N. Dakota, and two major oil discuveries in the deep Gulf estimated to be more than 7 billion barrels minimum, a total increase of stated (proven) reserves of more than 35 billion parrels minimum, yet the EIA has not changed the US reserves for years, keeping it at around 21 billion barrels...Talk abot new math sheesh..And yes the president did intentionally give inaccurate information to the American people..

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