NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

An Oil Facts Update

In The Union Letters to the Editor we often hear the world is running out of oil, “we must switch to alternative sources.” What they really meant to say is the world supply of cheap oil is declining. Once the price of a barrel of oil increases to meet the recovery costs, new supplies enter the inventory.

Oil reserves in Canada increased by 35 times once the price increased high enough to pay for the recovery of oil from their Alberta "tar sands.” Adding the tar sands to the previous oil reserve estimate of 5 million barrels, the Canadian reserves increased by 180 billion barrels. As oil recovery technologies improve all the available oil from the sands could reach more than 1 trillion barrels, according to some experts.

But by far the largest potential reservoir of future oil is held in oil shale in the United States. Similar to the Canadian tar sand, the oil is held captive in soft rock. The U.S. Department of Energy, in a March 2004 study, reports oil shale reserves in the United States alone of over 2,000 billion barrels. The U.S. oil-shale reserves alone would be sufficient to provide 100 percent of U.S. crude oil consumed at current usage for over 200 years.

It is time for our local scaremongers and doom merchants to start dealing in the facts. Their is no rapidly approaching oil famine, just increases in the price, as we tap the U.S. and Canadian reserves.

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