NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GETTING OIL FROM A STONE

June 2, 2008

Exxon Mobil's CEO Rex Tillerson says his energy company's "corporate social responsibility" is to produce more energy.  While Congress wants to tax oil profits, he wants to spend them to find more oil. 

Investor's Business Daily (IBD) says it is irresponsible to ignore the growing energy requirements of the U.S. and world economy, hoping they will be met solely by sources such as biofuels which actually harm the environment by leading to cutting down forests and disturbing the soil to plant crops destined for our gas tanks, releasing huge amounts of CO2 in the process.  Instead, the United States should focus on developing its existing oil deposits, currently trapped in oil sands and shale rock.  There are many such locations:

  • Exxon is spending $8 billion of its profits on the Kearl oil sands project in Alberta, Canada, an area with an estimated 173 million barrels of crude oil; this project alone is aimed at recovering between 4.5 and 6.5 billion barrels of oil.
  • Oil is also trapped in the shale in the Bakken Formation, straddling western North Dakota and Montana; the Bakken Formation holds an estimated 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to Leigh Price, a scientist with the U.S. geological survey.
  • A Rand Corporation study says the Green River Formation, which covers parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, has the largest known oil shale deposits in the world, holding from 1.5 to 1.8 trillion barrels of crude; of that, some 800 billion barrels are recoverable with current technology -- roughly triple Saudi Arabia's current known reserves.
  • According to the Institute for Energy Research, the United States has 2 trillion barrels of oil shale; this is more than 7 times the amount of crude oil reserves found in Saudi Arabia, and is enough to meet current U.S. demand for over 250 years.

If full-scale production begins within five years, the United States could completely end its dependence on OPEC by 2020, says Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation.  That's quite a forecast, given that nearly a half of our oil today comes from that monopoly.  In fact, there is enough North American petroleum trapped in oil sands and shale rock to form our own OPEC, says IBD.

Source: "Getting Oil From A Stone," Investor's Business Daily, May 30, 2008.

 

Browse more articles on Environment Issues