How Much Oil is There Left, Really?

Technology

It's the question that'll everyone will love to debate.

According to BP, its latest global oil reserve estimate is 1,687.9 billion barrels. All together, that’s enough oil to last for another 53.3 years at current production rates. And, again according to BP, the US has 44.2 billion barrels of oil reserves – 26 percent higher than originally thought just a year or so ago. For comparison, the US Energy Information Administration previously estimated that number at 33.4 billion barrels. Both numbers are supposedly accurate, but why the recent jump?

Because of America’s shale oil reserves, which are proving to be larger than thought. Technology, such as horizontal drilling, has also been improved that’ll make that shale oil more accessible. The Permian Basin, for example, contains 75 billion barrels of recoverable gas and oil. Only last year was it estimated to have 50 billion. Another energy company claims that it will recover 400 million barrels of oil equivalent in the Rockies. So will we run out of oil in 53.3 years? No. BP might, but shale resources will take over. Question is, will "fracking"” (the process of extracting shale oil) cause environmental damage? After all, a few recent minor earthquakes may have been caused as a result of the process.

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