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All Da King's Men

How Much Oil Do We Really Have ?

By Da King Published: March 18, 2012

On the campaign trail, President Obama keeps keeps repeating this point:

“With only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices, not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil.”

What Obama is talking about here is proven oil reserves. Currently, we do have 2% of the world's PROVEN oil reserves. It represents the amount of oil for which we are currently drilling.

But this is Obama we're talking about, and he's a politician. With politicians, it's often what they don't say that is important, and here's what Obama doesn't tell you - there are a lot more recoverable oil resources in the U.S. than what we are currently drilling for. The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that proven reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources”.

So, how much recoverable oil do we really have ? Investor's Business Daily reports:

...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 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...When you look at the whole picture, it turns out that there are vast supplies of oil in the U.S., according to various government reports. Among them:

At least 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf yet to be discovered, according to the government's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

About 24 billion barrels in shale deposits in the lower 48 states, according to EIA.

Up to 2 billion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Alaska's North Slope, says the U.S. Geological Survey.

Up to 12 billion barrels in ANWR, according to the USGS.

As much as 19 billion barrels in the Utah tar sands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Then, there's the massive Green River Formation in Wyoming, which according to the USGS contains a stunning 1.4 trillion barrels of oil shale — a type of oil released from sedimentary rock after it's heated.

When you add up all U.S. oil resources, the 2% proven oil reserves figure that Obama cites is a very small subset indeed. The following graphic illustrates this:

So, when Obama cracks jokes about how we're not drilling on the "National Mall", or we're not drilling at "your house", as he does in the following video clip, know that he is engaging in obfuscation.

Nobody wants to drill on the National Mall, Mr. President. Nobody. Your jokes are ignorant. But how about we drill in ANWR, offshore, for shale, in the Utah tar sands, via the Keystone XL pipeline, etc ??? How about we produce our own oil at the same time we attempt to reduce oil consumption and convert to alternative energy means where we can, so that we WON'T be so dependent on unstable Middle Eastern countries for the next several decades as we make the switch ? This is a matter of both energy independence and national security, and here we have a President who thinks it's all a big joke. No thank you. I will vote for someone else.

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