Graph of the certainty level of estimates for oil and gas reserves

Million Dollar Way pointed me to a great visual illustration of this idea, explained by the US EIA:

For many purposes, oil and natural gas resources are usefully classified into four categories:

  • Remaining oil and gas in-place (original oil and gas in-place minus cumulative production at a specific date)
  • Technically recoverable resources
  • Economically recoverable resources
  • Proved reserves

Check out this illustration, which is obviously not to scale:

reserves illustration

Illustration tells the story better than my words could.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration Oil and natural gas resource categories reflect varying degrees of certainty.


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