“An Energy Primer”

Fantastic primer on energy in the U.S. and world:

Hard Facts – An Energy Primer from the Institute for Energy Research.

I’ve just started reading it.  Superb stuff.  The first few tidbits that  jump out at me:

Estimates that there is more recoverable oil in the U.S. than in Saudi Arabia:

The United States is home to the richest oil shale deposits in the world—estimates are there are about 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil in U.S. oil shale deposits, nearly four times that of Saudi Arabia’s proved oil reserves.5

Vastly improved energy efficiency in the U.S. even with expansion in the per capita GDP:

• Energy use per person in the United States fell 12 percent between 1979 and 2010 from 359 million BTUs to 317 million BTUs per person.19

• Energy intensity—energy consumption per dollar of GDP—fell by 52 percent between 1973 and 2011.20

Are we running out of oil and gas we know about and can get to at economical price?

Not even close.

This is the issue of proven reserves:

Proven reserves are similar to the food currently in the grocery store. They are the estimated reserves that are easily accessible and recoverable with today’s technology and today’s oil prices.31 But proven reserves are a small fraction of the amount of oil that is in the ground. History has shown us that as today’s proven reserves are used, people find more reserves.

There’s several great charts in the report. I’ll describe a few of them and draw my own someday.

US proved oil reserves

In 1944 we had 20 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. Since then we’ve pulled 176 billion barrels out of the ground. That means we’ve used almost nine times our proven reserves at the end of WWII. That means we have a deficit of 156B barrels, right?


We still have 20.7B barrels of proven reserves in 2010.  (see page 20.) Slightly more now than in 1944.

How can that be?

As technology improves, the oil people can get to stuff that wasn’t feasible to reach earlier. More and better exploration finds more oil. And increased world prices make it economical to get stuff that wasn’t economical before.

How about world-wide proved oil reserves?

In 1980 there were 642B barrels of proven reserves. In the 27 years through 2007, we’ve pulled 720B barrels out of the ground. That means we’ve overdrawn the oil in the ground by 78B barrels, right? Taken out of the ground more than was there in 1980?

Again, no.

We have 1,371B barrels in the ground. That’s more oil that we’ve used and double the reserves in 1980.

Let me say that again. Worldwide we have twice the proven reserves in 2007 as we had in 1980.  That’s after taking out of the ground more oil than was in proven reserves.

Lots more to read. Check it out yourself!

Hat tip: Instapundit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *