"US oil reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia and Russia"… Well, not really.

Guest post by David Middleton


US oil reserves top both Saudi Arabia and Russia

The US holds more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, the first time it has surpassed those held by the world’s biggest exporting nations, according to a new study.

Rystad Energy estimates recoverable oil in the US from existing fields, discoveries and yet undiscovered areas amounts to 264bn barrels. The figure surpasses Saudi Arabia’s 212bn and Russia’s 256bn in reserves.

The analysis of 60,000 fields worldwide, conducted over a three-year period by the Oslo-based group, shows total global oil reserves at 2.1tn barrels. This is 70 times the current production rate of about 30bn barrels of crude oil a year, Rystad Energy said on Monday.



While I have no doubt that the petroleum resource potential in these United States, onshore and offshore, is huge and probably surpasses that of Saudi Arabia and Russia, the word “reserves” has a specific definition:


According to the Society of Petroleum Engineers, reserves are “those quantities of petroleum claimed to be commercially recoverable by application of development projects to known accumulations under defined conditions.” Well, that clears things up, right? No? Well, to clarify, the SPE says petroleum quantities must fit four criteria to be classified as reserves. They must be (1) discovered through one or more exploratory wells, (2) recoverable using existing technology, (3) commercially viable, and finally (4) remaining in the ground. Sound okay? Good, because it gets more tricky from there. There are currently three classifications for reserves: proved, probably and possible. Here’s how they break down:

Proved reserves

are those with a “reasonable certainty” (a minimum 90% confidence) of being recoverable under existing economic and political conditions. We can discussed the differences between proved developed, proved undeveloped, etc. with a later post. However, it should be pointed out that proved reserves are the only reserves recognized by the U.S. SEC. This is why energy companies strive to get the latest technology and recovery methods recognized by the government, therefore increasing the chance of “reasonably” recovering oil and gas assets and therefore raising their reserves as well.

Probable reserves

are petroleum and gas quantities with a 50% confidence level of recovery. Basically, you may be able to get some, you may not.

Possible reserves

are quantities with a minimum 10% certainty of being produced. Basically, your long shot discoveries. Only gamble on these types of assets if your Magic 8-Ball tells you to. All right! That takes care of reserves! But what about resources?


For those of you who have looked at on the market ads, you’ll spot this term a lot in the literature. So what is resources? Again, we turn to the SPE. There are two categories of resources: contingent and prospective. are quantities of petroleum estimated, as of a given date, to be potentially recoverable from known accumulations, but the projects are not yet considered mature enough for commercial development due to one or more contingencies. In other words, there’s a good idea of how much oil and gas is in the reservoir, but issues such as political and social events or even a lack of market prevent production. There can be a major oil discovery in the Congo right now. You want to risk getting shot to get to it? are quantities of petroleum estimated to be potentially recoverable from undiscovered accumulations by application of future development projects. These sorts of resources basically exist in the minds of marketing people. That’s not to say that they don’t exist in the real world as well, it just means that E&Ps are thinking of future oil and gas discoveries in new areas, based on upcoming technology and the discoveries made in similar formations worldwide. Okay! I hope that helps! Until next time, may the resource be with you. Live long and prospect.

Oil & Gas Investor

The Rystad Energy report is adding its estimate of undiscovered resources to its reserve estimate.

Somehow, they came up with 264 billion barrels of proved, probable, possible and potential reserves (resource potential).

1P = Proved Reserves (>90% probability),  2P = Proved + Probable (>50% probability),  2PC (3P) = Proved + Probable + Possible (>10% probability),  2PCX = Proved + Probable + Possible + Undiscovered (not reserves)

Publicly traded companies are valued according to their proved reserves (1P).  Probable reserves (2P) can be used for certain accounting measures; however they are not proved reserves. Possible reserves (3P) cannot be used for any accounting measures. Undiscovered resources aren’t reserves.

Most estimates of undiscovered resource potential in the United States (onshore + offshore) are in the range of 400 billion barrels. If you count oil shales (different from shale oil) you can push the number up to 1.4 trillion barrels.  So, Rystad’s 264 billion barrels is actually a conservative estimate of reserves and resource potential.  The US has huge potential for future oil and gas discoveries, probably far greater than Saudi Arabia or Russia. However, those future discoveries aren’t reserves.

I applaud Rystad Energy for trying to draw an “apples to apples” comparison of oil reserves in the U.S. and other rule of law nations to those of countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  However, they are blurring the distinction between reserves and resource potential.

While the distinction between reserves and resources may seem like nitpicking, the misuse of the word “reserves” is frequently used by politicians to give the impression that US petroleum “resources” are scarce…

“The United States holds only 2% of the planet’s proven oil reserves,”

— President Barack Obama

According to President Obama, the United States contains only 2 percent of the planet’s proven oil reserves, Of course, he’s right — to a point. In classic fashion, he’s using a technicality to skirt the facts and keep the myth of energy scarcity alive. The reality is that the U.S. has enough recoverable oil for the next 200 years, despite only having 2 percent of the world’s current proven oil reserves.

Proven oil reserves are not all of our oil resources—not even close. In fact, proved reserves represent a tiny portion of our total oil resources. Proven (or proved) oil reserves are reserves that have already been discovered, typically through actual exploration or drilling, and which can be recovered economically. That estimate does not include oil that we know about, yet are unable to access because of regulatory barriers. For example, the billions of barrels of oil in ANWR are not included in our proved oil reserves. So let’s look at the facts.

Currently, the United States has 1,442 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, but only about 20 billion barrels are considered proven oil reserves.[ii] That is partly because the federal government is denying access to hundreds of millions of acres oil-rich federal lands: the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, the Naval Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, at least 45 percent of the Gulf of Mexico, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, and oil shale on federal lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, to name a few. In the case of oil shale (an oil composed of kerogen), technology needs to be perfected to make its production viable, but this will not happen until the land is leased. Regrettably, the Department of Interior has stopped a leasing program Congress directed it to undertake.



“Proved reserves” are just a tiny fraction of the petroleum resources in these United States.  It is primarily an accounting measure used in the valuation of oil companies. Publicly traded US oil companies have to “book” proved reserves according to very strict SEC rules.

Here’s a very simplistic example of proved reserves (1P):

Schematic cross section of an oil-bearing sandstone trapped on the up-thrown side of a normal fault, up-dip to a dry hole with an oil show (lowest known oil, LKO).


Since the well was drilled up-dip to a dry hole with an oil show, the entire volume can be booked as proved because the down-dip well has an oil-water contact.

Here’s a very simplistic example of proved plus probable reserves(2P)

Schematic cross section of an oil-bearing sandstone up-dip to a wet well with no oil show (highest known water, HKW).

In this scenario, the down-dip well has no oil show, just a wet sandstone. If there is geological or geophysical evidence (e.g. seismic hydrocarbon indicator) demonstrating that the hydrocarbon column extends down-dip, the volume below the lowest known oil can be booked as probable reserves.  Otherwise, it would have to be categorized as possible reserves.

SEC rules & definitions via NSAI

Featured image source.

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July 6, 2016 5:48 am

Oil be darned.

Reply to  ClimateOtter
July 6, 2016 6:19 am

Whale oil beef hooked!

Reply to  Dick
July 6, 2016 12:31 pm

Have you ever vacationed in the lovely island “Isle Beef Hooked”?
Or have you ever visited there during Christmas for the “Yule Beef Hooked” celebrations?
I highly recommend it.

Reply to  Dick
July 6, 2016 1:44 pm

+ A Shedload!
Positives for TRM – too – a barrowload.

Reply to  ClimateOtter
July 6, 2016 1:27 pm

Yep. True.
No such thing as “peak oil.” Even when we all sat in lines at gas stations at 4 a.m. in the eighties after those mean ole A-rabs “embargoed” oil to the U.S.. . . and we “found out” how serious things were and that the U.S. was “. . .running out of oil.”
All lies. Economic propaganda. All designed to shake us down at the gas pump. We (and the world) have fields that have never been pumped.
Gull Island http://www.rense.com/general82/gull.htm) off the North Slope. . .
(see Lindsey Williams’s book The Energy Non-Energy Crisis http://www.reformation.org/energy-non-crisis.html )
The huge fields in Montana and the Dakotas (http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=61488 ). . .
Green River Basin (http://www.oilshalegas.com/greenriveroilshale.html) in Colorado
. . . the recent boom in the South-to-Central Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale http://oilshalegas.com/eaglefordshale.html . . . ANWAR.
And no one is quite sure what BP drilled into in the Gulf. Only that wellhead pressures were unlike any they’d ever seen.
Oil companies—who control Arab oil—know exactly where these and other fields are around the world, and the estimated oil in them.
The Russians have proffered that oil reproduces itself from earth pressures and heat. Called A-biotic oil. They’ve deduced this from the ultra-deep land wells they’ve drilled. Been a few technical papers written. Little publicity, etc. Russia even offered to help during BP’s—What? Me worry?—blasphemous blowout. BP declined, polluted the Gulf of Mexico, skipped town, and were drug kicking and screaming back into the courts in Louisiana—a state in which the mob is the cleanest organization known to exist —where they met their equals.
Anyone notice how quickly the First Gulf War ended when the Middle East’s oil ‘arrangements’ were threatened? Or how long the others have drawn out once things settled back towards “normal?”
Buckminster Fuller’s quote: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something [you have to] build a new model that makes [money, sense] and the existing model obsolete . . .”
Did you notice how the hydrogen energy breakthrough a few years ago was banished from the MSM propaganda outlets? Did you know this breakthrough gets ZERO DOLLARS at the fed’s trough? That dump-truck loads of tax dollars pass right by it enroute for wind and solar graveyards?
The energy industry knows about hydrogen and world oil deposits. They ‘police’ themselves, have come to tacit agreements, wink, nods, etc.
Did I mention that steam cars worked just fine when all this started? That their patents were bought up by the oil companies? That 99% of the world’s transportation now sits on the fossil fuel platform? Nuclear, water, and alternate energy aside, that 75% (+) of the world’s energy platform sits on the same platform?
That America has an unlimited supply of coal sitting beneath its dirt, too?
Any takedown of these platforms has nothing to do with coal, oil, gas, CO2, greenhouse gases/footprints or any other caca de toro.

Reply to  Wrusssr
July 6, 2016 1:39 pm

Did you notice how the hydrogen energy breakthrough
NOT a source of energy, but an energy transport means or mechanism. Unless they are bringing in hydrogen ‘mined’ from the sun (a joke).

Reply to  Wrusssr
July 6, 2016 1:45 pm

Did I mention that steam cars worked just fine when all this started? That their patents were bought up by the oil companies?
And, as we all know: C onspiracy theories are the favored tools of the weak minded.
If you have any patents in mind, we can look them up nowadays and see to whom (which corporations or companies) they were last transferred or assigned …
Google patent and trademark search tool:

Reply to  Wrusssr
July 6, 2016 2:04 pm

That’s a lot of sketchy conspiracy nonsense, but I would pay to see you drive around in a steam car.

Reply to  Wrusssr
July 6, 2016 5:42 pm

Actually a steam car would be perfectly workable. Most of our power plants use steam as a means of converting heat energy to work. The main reason we don’t use it for cars now is that steam is a high pressure system and those don’t respond well to the crashes that cars get into on occasion.
Wrusssr’s problem is that ‘Steam’ doesn’t produce energy, it just converts it. Like with his Hydrogen rant, you still need some other source of energy to power it. In both cases that could be coal, natural gas, nuclear, even ‘renewables’. Or it can come from Oil.
Which means his whole conspiracy theory about the oil companies working to block ‘Hydrogen’ or ‘Steam’ is stupid. Would the also be blocking ‘Electricity’? Just because the internal combustion engine is the most common way of turning potential energy into work in cars doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

Bryan A
Reply to  Wrusssr
July 7, 2016 2:27 pm

Speaking of Steam Powered Cars

I’ll take one
One of these too

to bad they won’t be produced. They were supposed to be under $30k

Reply to  Wrusssr
July 7, 2016 3:33 pm

If you think that BP was allowed to accept or decline offers of help from Russia you are clueless. As for your claims of BP “skipping town”, that is a bald-faced lie….same as your claim that they were “drug kicking and screaming back into the courts in Louisiana”. The rest of your, gosh, “statements” with regards to hydrogen, energy industry collusion and steam cars only label you as a conspiracy theorist. Retired BP Onshore Employee

Reply to  Wrusssr
July 7, 2016 7:56 pm

No worries, David. It took me more than a couple of tries without profanity.

David Holliday
July 6, 2016 5:54 am

Wasn’t it during the Clinton administration that the United States went from reporting probable reserves to proven reserves?

Bloke down the pub
July 6, 2016 5:55 am

According to wiki , Saudi Arabia only began oil exploration in the 1930’s. Presumably before that, it had no reserves.

July 6, 2016 6:01 am

O.T ….but really sweet…The “Greens” take another big hit !
“Court rules emails from White House science adviser’s personal account subject to open records law”

Steve from Rockwood
July 6, 2016 6:12 am

Venezuela is touted as having the world’s largest oil reserves and yet it comes in 8th in your table with less than half the reserves of USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
For example…

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
July 6, 2016 6:29 am

Rystad’s estimate for Venezuela may be on the low side. Or ti could be high. Here’s a link to my estimate:

July 6, 2016 6:17 am

What I find objectionable is US money funneled to Canada to create environmental pressure groups like Tides to prevent Canadian Oil from coming to market. This has the effect of increasing oil prices in the US, while at the same time increasing US reliance on middle east oil.
Yes, some US oil producers and railway operators are making out like bandits. Making billions of $$ that they would not otherwise make. All paid for by the US consumer. None of which would be possible without US politicians bought and paid for by billions of $$ in politician contributions. As Will Rogers observed:
“America has the best politicians money can buy”
But at the same time the US is pouring billions of $$ and tens of thousands of lives into fighting a global terrorism war that is largely a result of US meddling in the middle east for the last 50 years, driven by the US reliance on middle east oil. 911 and the twin towers. Oil brought those buildings down as sure a day follows night.
If you want to see real damages, look at what the dependence on middle east oil has cost the US. Trillions of dollars in debt and thousands of lives lost. Compare that to the 1 in a million odds of ever being killed by a pipeline, a pipeline that makes money for the taxpayer, rather than costing money. A novel concept for politicians that can only think of ways to increase taxes and send send sons and daughters off to war.

Reply to  ferdberple
July 6, 2016 6:32 am

It really is sad the way some people insist on believing that everything bad in the world was caused by the US.
Muslims have been killing each other and non-muslims for over 1400 years. They didn’t need US “meddling” to give them the idea.

Reply to  MarkW
July 6, 2016 7:48 am

Nor did the US put the oil in the ground in the middle east. The resource would have been discovered and sold to someone, making the House of Saud incredibly rich.
Some buildings, somewhere, would have come down.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  MarkW
July 6, 2016 10:23 pm

The invasion of Iraq was a war crime. Bush, Cheney, Blair- war criminals.

Reply to  MarkW
July 7, 2016 4:05 pm

No. Invasion of Iraq was legal, voted for by the Senate to include Kerry and H.R. Clinton, in pursuance of the policy of regime change announced by W.J. Clinton. Iraq had not been keeping the terms of the armistice which ended the previous war, and sanctions were breaking down, so something had to be done. Iraq had not turned over their Nuclear program, among other violations.
After Saddam Hussein was captured, Gadaffi turned over Iraq’s nuclear program which had been safety hidden in Libya, in violation of the armistice.

Reply to  ferdberple
July 6, 2016 6:55 am

increasing US reliance on middle east oil.
LAST I knew, very little of our oil came form SA. When did this change? Otherwise, this seems a common misconception …

Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 7:27 am

“Saudi Arabia accounts for 11% ”
But, BUT, if you take into consideration export of oil, or refined oil products (including products of oil), do we have a net import or net export ‘surplus’?
Does this include any oil importation to Hawaii which is then used for power generation?

Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 8:07 am

David, various web resources indicate Hawaii imports ME oil, as well as some from Alaska … the question remains, what kind of quantities of oil does Hawaii import form the ME.
Hawaii has two refineries, so it is not imperative that refined products be ‘imported’ from the mainland.

Reply to  _Jim
July 6, 2016 9:17 am

Still not yielding much in the way of ‘numbers’, and a brief review via Google had yielded the info you posted so far …
BTW, it appears a larger percentage of the oil imported by Hawaii is used for transportation (including Jet fuel) and not electricity generation. I think I mentioned previously the two refineries as well – are you really reading these posts?

Tom O
Reply to  ferdberple
July 6, 2016 11:01 am

A statement made in this article is important in light of ferdberple’s comment. The statement about reporting by the US and other rule of law nations brought a huge chuckle. Since when has the US been a “rule of law nation?” Can’t prove it by its activities over the last 50 years, that’s for sure. And reference to fairytales such as buildings coming down because of oil in the middle east need not be showcased. There is no doubt that billions of dollars have been spent in meddling in the middle east, the question really is was any of it spent fighting terrorism or creating it?

Reply to  ferdberple
July 6, 2016 3:03 pm

But wait until the Saudis find their oil shale reserves . . .

Jeff Corwith
July 6, 2016 6:23 am

I agree with your assessment of the report. The authors play fast and loose with the term “reserves”, when they should be talking about “resources”. I suspect that the undiscovered resource potential of Russia and the middle east are understated relative to the North American basis. That number is all arm waving, at any rate.
Just one comment on your last example. The 2010 “modernization of oil and gas reporting” by the SEC allows for the use of “Reliable Technology”, for the booking of proved reserves. Now, in many cases, the seismic DHI (direct hydrocarbon indicator) may be used for proved reserves IF that technology has “been field tested and has demonstrated consistency and repeatability in the formation being evaluated or an analogous formation”. Another way (which I’ve used, post rules change) is to use the pressure gradients established from formation tests (e.g. MDT or RFT) in both the oil leg and water legs to establish the contact location.

Jeff Corwith
Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 9:57 am

Good point. I overlooked that you did qualify this as “simplistic”. The SEC “Reliable Technology” issue has actually been on my mind recently relating to a project on which I’m currently working, so I had to jump in with both feet.

John W. Garrett
July 6, 2016 6:41 am

To David Middleton:
Thank you for correcting what was an obviously inaccurate (and irresponsible) report.
Those of us involved with these things know that The Fourth Estate (especially people like CNBC, NPR, the N.Y. Times, the WaPo and Bloomberg) aren’t noted for the accuracy of their facts and reporting.

John W. Garrett
Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 6:58 am

It is “irresponsible” because of the huge numbers of people who will do nothing more than read a headline or hear an excerpt and will incorporate that sound byte into their belief system.
As a career “buy-side” securities analyst, I always tried to be very careful about what I wrote or said for the simple reason that (despite evidence to the contrary) someone might be paying attention.

Craig Loehle
Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 8:29 am

In everyday life, it is ok to be casual with words. The car was red, maroon, fire engine red…meh same thing. We get used to collapsing categories for simplicity. But in technical fields it makes a huge difference. In climate change, the use of “it is warming” is taken to mean “the sky is falling” when these are not the same thing at all.

July 6, 2016 6:41 am

The amount of oil we can extract in the future will depend on prices, technology, and timing. Most of the oil shown in that Rystad table requires prices higher than $80 per barrel. A lot of the USA resources they listed will require $100 to $200 per barrel.
Then there’s the timing issue. Some of that oil requires a very long time to extract. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of these worldwide estimates are pretty soft numbers because there’s no single reliable data base and interpretation methodology.
I’ve looked at this topic for many years, while working in oil exploration (I concluded oil exploration was a losing business over 20 years ago, it was better to focus on known oil accumulations even if we had to develop technology to squeeze the oil out of the rocks).

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 7:29 am

F. L. mentions “timing.”
Nearly 157 years ago – August 28, 1859 – oil was lifted out of Drake’s Well in a rolled and plugged eave’s spouting lowered on cord. Then it was poured into a washtub. [31 miles from where I was raised.]
An uncle drilled in western Pennsylvania (McKean County) in the 1940s-50s.
I’m looking forward to the next 157 years.

son of mulder
July 6, 2016 6:48 am

Just when we don’t need it because of the copious amounts of wind and solar(;>)

Reply to  son of mulder
July 6, 2016 6:59 am

Wind and solar can be used to synthesize plastics and motor fuels? Or create ‘tar’ and asphalt for paving?
Who knew …

Geologist Down The Pub
July 6, 2016 7:22 am

Keep in mind that “Reserves” are an economic concept as much as a geological one – as you point out, if it can’t be sold at a profit, it ain’t reserves. And also keep in mind that those oil fields in Saudi Arabia were originally discovered by American geologists working for American companies. So there.

July 6, 2016 7:30 am

Totally called it.

Tom Halla
July 6, 2016 7:31 am

Good basic information–the greens were proclaiming imminent doom forty years ago.

Reply to  ratuma
July 6, 2016 8:18 am

see references at the bottom

Craig Loehle
July 6, 2016 8:24 am

One of the reasons there have been so many “peak oil” claims is that if a company has enough proven reserves to pump for a while, they are not going to spend money drilling to find more oil. The proven reserves are typically only enough to last for 5-15 years of pumping, and during that time they drill to find the next batch. So it always looks like we are running out of oil because of the (justifiably) conservative way proven reserves are booked.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 7:59 pm

The Hubbert ‘Equation’ is bull. There is know way to predict a peek before it arrives and even after you’ve started a decline it is fully possible to reverse and start climbing again if technology or economics change. As has already happened in the US.
Granted, there MUST be a limit to how much oil we will be able to recover, simply because ANY resource is finite*. Be we don’t and can’t know how much that amount is. And so far every prediction made has been laughably low. It’s highly likely in my opinion that, like so many other resources, oil will ‘peek’ when we find a better way to do the things we used it for.
*with the possible exception of human stupidity.

Reply to  Craig Loehle
July 6, 2016 8:57 am

There have been many misunderstandings about peak oil. It is neither based on proven, nor proven plus probable, reserves. Nor is it based on fuzzy future resource discoveries, although those can be estimates by basin in aggregate using creaming curves (and globally, about 75% of all oil resource to be discovered already has been). Peak oil relates to the quality of technically recoverable (at any price with existing technology) reserves. TRR. It is the annual rate of extraction. For many geophysical reasons, these rates fall with time in existing conventional TRR. And for additional geophysical reasons, these rates are lower in unconventional reserves (API<10, porosity <5%, permeability <1 darcie). Global conventional oil production peaked about 2007. Even with shale (tight) oil and canadian bitumen plus venezuelan tar sands, total conventional plus unconventional will peak somewhere around 2025. Thereafter a long slow decline in annual production. This can be calculated using either the logistics(Hubbert) or gamma (more realistic long tail, very similar to logistics up to peak) functions, or by using a probit tranform (as Deffeyes of Princeton and Rutledge of CalTech prefer).

David Ball
Reply to  ristvan
July 6, 2016 10:30 am

David Middleton July 6, 2016 at 9:28 am says;
His prediction for U.S. peak oil production was wrong because he grossly underestimated the total recoverable resource.
Well, that builds confidence in his formula,…….. ( sarc, although I hope it came across without the sarc tag)

Gary Hladik
Reply to  ristvan
July 6, 2016 10:01 pm

“The equation is fine. It’s the inputs that are unknown.”
Kind of like the Drake Equation?

July 6, 2016 9:27 am

Canadian PROVED reserves are over 170 billion bbls. Oil in place is over 1.7 TRILLION bbls. A few years ago the proved reserves were less than a billion bbls. The difference is technology.
Right now, I know where there is 3 times the oil we have consumed to date. Because most reservoirs only produce 25% of oil in place. If the price is high enough, we will get the oil.
I expect Peak Oil, not because of production limits, but because of declining demand.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 10:12 am

By prolonged, it would have to be decades of low prices, and even then it would be production, not reserves, that decline.
Most heavy oil is profitable at 70/bbl or less. Some as low as 10.
Even with these prolonged low prices, heavy oil is projected to increase production through 2020.
It would sure help if they could get a pipeline or three, though.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 8:14 pm

If oil stays below $70/bbl for an indefinite amount of time, someone will probably invent a way to get it all eventually.

July 6, 2016 11:15 am

Crude exports look to be up – article back in June:
“US Oil Exports EXPLODE: Increase 7-Fold In 3 Months”
U.S. companies sent eight million barrels of oil to Japan, Italy and even Curacao in March. That’s way up from the 1.2 million barrels of oil exported in January, the month after President Barack Obama signed a budget bill that included an end to the 40-year-old ban on oil exports.
Article published just today (Wed.):
U.S. crude oil exports hit record 662,000 bpd in May: Census Bureau
U.S. crude oil exports rose to a record 662,000 barrels per day in May from 591,000 bpd in April, foreign trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed on Wednesday.
Canada accounted for the most U.S. crude exports at 308,000 bpd, followed by the Netherlands at 110,000 bpd and Curacao at 67,000 bpd. Other prominent destinations were Britain at 36,000 bpd, Japan at 29,000 bpd and Italy at 23,000 bpd

Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 1:23 pm

I don’t suppose that it occurs to Dave Middleton that PARTS of the country are net importers while others are net EXPORTERS, because of proximity to large markets (like our NE w/New York), with the net exporters existing because of the presence of pipeline terminals and refineries such as found in Louisiana and Texas.
Did it occur to David?
BTW, the ban has been lifted for how many months now? Just since like December or so of last year …

Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 8:27 pm

So the US imports a lot of crude and exports a lot of refined products.
Sounds like good work for a technology advanced nation to be in.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 4:07 pm

Dave is really still not getting several underlying points that I’d like examined, such as, just HOW MUCH in the way of PRODUCTS and finished goods do we export in the way of different materials and manufactured goods which involved PETROLEUM as source stock, e.g. plastics and fertilizer, and even produce (corn, wheat etc.) which require fertilizer.
The second point being (AND he’s catching on by his post above) is that oil is *fungible*, it can be pretty much bought and sold where convenient (when transportation is a factor). So, it can be bought and sold in different parts of the country depending on production, price and delivery/transport capabilities and costs.

Steve from Rockwood
Reply to  David Middleton
July 6, 2016 6:09 pm

One thing is certain, if the largest consumer of oil began exporting it in greater quantity, the price of oil would drop even further.

stas peterson BSME, MSMa, MBA
July 6, 2016 12:09 pm

It is clear from these expositions that the outlook for Mankind’s energy needs are satisfactory and sanguine. Long before Oil in massive quantities for primary energy, is exhausted, Fusion will be available, despite delays and under-funding. Much of waht ITER set out to prove has been accomplished in smaller experiments worldwide in the interim. On the order of of 20-30 years we will have it, while Oil looks sufficient for a few hundred years at the minimum. Oil will always be available for pharmaceuticals and polymers which are insensitive to prices under thousands of dollars per barrel.
Clean, inexhaustible Fusion will make possible de-salinazation of the oceans where needed, and power for a complex advanced civilization for the entire world will be assured.
We have but to declare victory over Pollution since all but a mere half dozen of the 2500 counties in the USA now report Clean Air Compliance. Even those half dozen uncompliant counties, are much closer to cleanliness than they used to be, and are well on the road to Compliance
Fears of CAGW and resource exhaustion have proved grossly exaggerated. So has fears of Over-population. Biological extinction fears are shown to be grossly exaggerated as well.

Reply to  stas peterson BSME, MSMa, MBA
July 6, 2016 2:33 pm

Fusion has been 20-30 years away since I was a child.
I am no longer a child, but it is still 20-30 years away.
Just because it would be great, and we can imagine that we can make it work, is no guarantee that we can make it work.
Everyone will be very happy on the day we can get cheap, safe and reliable power from fusion, but thinking we have nothing to worry about because in a few decades all our energy problems will be solved is foolhardy

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Menicholas
July 6, 2016 8:40 pm

A friend of mine worked professionally in fusion research for 6 years. He said he realised it was about 50 years away and wanted to do something with his life that was more productive so he became a first class solar energy expert and has more than 10 patents on low cost solar heating for swimming pools.
In 50 years there will be far more to work with both theoretically and materials. Once that is done ‘the energy problem’ will have been permanently solved and people can go about fighting over other things like ego and academic standing.

July 6, 2016 12:27 pm

The mining/minerals industry deals with the reserve vs resource issue as well. SEC definitions are very clear and the terms are not interchangeable, although frequently reported as such. Investors and buyers beware.

July 6, 2016 1:11 pm

40 years ago someone smarter than myself told me that “as long as there is no collapse in technology, such as occurred at the end of the Roman Empire, we will never run out of oil. The only unknown is when oil will become too expensive for any particular purpose.”
I believe that concept is as applicable today as it was then. With new methods of discovery and extraction, for the foreseeable future we are more likely to be restricted in our use of oil by politics than by supply.

Steve from Rockwood
July 6, 2016 3:09 pm

One thing for sure, the USA has redefined pricing.

July 6, 2016 3:23 pm

You cannot see oil in seismic surveys, only the rock strata. There is so much noise from reflections that I never saw an oil-water interface in one profile at Unocal. You look for traps to stop the upward migration of oil. You prove there is oil by drilling, not by looking at seismic profiles. A drill core at a stratum and its extent is then proven reserves. A profile does not show things like illite clay content that thwarts rock stratum permeability, so not all oil can be extracted. Composition of rocks is not indicated by seismic profiling.

July 6, 2016 4:00 pm

Blah…blah..blah…blah BLAH. The Bakken was discovered in 1957. Experts at that time completely discounted it, because there was NO KNOWN WAY to recover. The same technology used to do the Bakken, and one that is “economical” in the 60 to 80$ per barrel range, can do the Marcellas, the Devonian, and the Colorado “shale”. Information I obtain from Aldee Berglove (R.I.P.), who ran the “Minnesota/Ohio Oil Company”, back in the mid-80’s indicated that the Devonian alone could probably provide all our petroleum needs for 300 years. Of course at that time, it was all STRAIGHT DOWN strings,
and local fracturing (within a hundred feet of the string) only. (Mr. Berglove’s company was primarily a “tax dodge” for people with large amounts of money, who needed to have some “write off” investments, which…although appearing to yield no significant income..or “break even”..when combined with the tax laws, would become “useful” to people in those income categories. Aldee, himself, felt that the “totality” of the shale oil would NEVER BE USEFUL. I’m sure if he could be resurrected now, he’d be DELIGHTED to
know about “modern” recovery methods.

Crispin in Waterloo
July 6, 2016 7:57 pm

The US hasn’t even started drilling on the East Coast. Most drilling on the West Coast has been stopped, but not for lack of oil. Haiti is floating on oil.

Steve Oregon
July 6, 2016 8:58 pm

Wise up people.
We just passed Peak Oil.

tony mcleod
Reply to  David Middleton
July 7, 2016 5:04 pm

Appreciate the posts form those more knowledgeable…
Can I ask, what about viewing ‘reserves’ in terms of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)?
I seem to remember reading that over the last 100 years it has gone from something like 100:1 when oil just came “a-bubblin up” to less than 10:1 now. Is this about right and if so, what is the feeling about when it gets close to 1:1?

tony mcleod
Reply to  David Middleton
July 7, 2016 6:24 pm

What I meant was that if it takes more energy to extract deeper, more remote reserves, so that eventually an oil company needs to expend1000J of energy to extract 999, why would they bother?

Reply to  David Middleton
July 9, 2016 6:27 am

Most US E & P, unfortunately, has not been returning a profit to the owners thereof, since the fourth quarter of 2014. I, unfortunately, can attest to that from personal experience.
It seems to me that leaving costs to produce the oil out of the analysis is never a good idea. I have reviewed enough payout statements from US LTO wells to determine that. To me, the activity in US LTO currently is motivated by things other than wells that will payout in a reasonable period of time. Right now, the motivations for current activity are for such matters as Wall Street (falling production is a no no for a public company’s share price) to hold undeveloped acreage, to meet production targets for management bonuses, etc.
It would appear, if EIA data is accurate, that US production is rapidly falling. However, that does not necessarily mean prices will go higher anytime soon. We are in the midst of a commodity bust akin to the late 1980s – 1990s, it appears.

July 6, 2016 10:11 pm

Thank you Dave for bringing all your expertise to this forum. I am particularly pleased that we got this far without a lecture on Russian abiotic yada yada. (all the Russians I have worked with are looking for thermally mature biotic source rocks just like the rest of us.)
My first week in the ol’biz, a geologist told me “don’t ever believe we found all the oil.” Forty years later, I finally understand what he was telling me. Back in the peak oil hysteria, I said over and over that a sustained high price would warp the curves beyond recognition. I could not say exactly where the production would come from, just that is would.
I would be surprised if the US resource exceeds Russia and Saudi. I base that on stories from my wife, who has seen more Saudi core than anyone I know of, and a review I did of Russian source rocks. At any rate, we are a long way from running out. The best models will be those which treat future potential with improved technology as infinite. It is not, of course, but then the stone age didn’t end for lack of stones…

tony mcleod
Reply to  David Middleton
July 7, 2016 8:15 pm

David do you place any credence on the view that “with the price of oil below $X there is not the return to justify the investment in exploration and above, the economy can’t afford it”?

tony mcleod
Reply to  David Middleton
July 8, 2016 5:00 am

So effectively we’ve reached peak cheap oil?

July 7, 2016 12:31 am

Wall Street’s ‘Hot Air Reserves’ certainly outstrip those of Russia and Saudi Arabia combined……

Dr. Strangelove
July 7, 2016 7:32 pm

“The analysis of 60,000 fields worldwide,.. shows total global oil reserves at 2.1tn barrels. This is 70 times the current production rate of about 30bn barrels of crude oil a year,”
We’ll run out of oil in 70 years. Then we shift to compressed natural gas to run our vehicles. Then to coal via FT process to get synthetic diesel. In 300 years we’re out of fossil fuels. Then we use cow shit, used cooking oil, pork fat and garbage to run our vehicles.

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