New Boom Reshapes Oil World, Rocks North Dakota
Weekend All Things Considered, September 25, 2011Mr. Raz,I like to think that NPR will present factual information on important issues rather than extremeexaggeration but your segment on U.S. oil production and resources (Sept. 24, 2011) falls into the realmof extreme exaggeration.Your segment highlighted the Bakken Shale, which is mostly in North Dakota. I believe you stated thatthe Bakken Shale has ~11 billion barrels of oil, if not more.An April 2008 USGS report estimated the amount of technically recoverable oil using technology readilyavailable at the end of 2007 within the Bakken Formation at 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels (680,000,000m3),with a mean of 3.65 billion. The state of North Dakota also released areport that month which estimatedthat there are 2.1 billion barrels (330,000,000 m3) of technically recoverable oil in the Bakken. Basedupon historical estimates from the USGS, technically recoverable oil is an inflated estimate of how muchoil that will ultimately be extracted from a region. I expect the 2.1 billion barrels to be too high. Toplace the figure in perspective, the U.S. consumes approximately 7 billion barrels of liquid hydrocarbonsper year. Although one of your experts gave the impression that technology is improving daily, frackingtechnology is quite mature at this point in time.
Through the first 4 months of this year (most recent US DOE/EIA data), North Dakota’s oil production
had dropped 0.79% relative to the last quarter of 2010.
That’s after increasing over 30%/year the last 2
years. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues.
There seems to be considerable misunderstanding concerning the Bakken Shale and what is termed “oil
le”, theshale in places like Colorado.
In the Bakken Shale, there is actually oil impregnated into theshale. That is not the case for most shale in the U.S. When you give a figure of 2 trillion barrels of presumably recoverable oil for the U.S., most of that estimate is based upon oil shalewhich has a solidorganic material called kerogen in it. No amount of fracking will remove the kerogen from the shale. It
appears unlikely that the “oil” in oil shale will ever be produced on a large scale.
It is not at all like theBakken Shale.You stated that U.S. oil production is increasing very rapidly. Based upon data from the US DOE/EIA,U.S. crude oil + condensate production, what I consider as oil, increased 2.66% through the first 6months of 2011 relative to the first 6 months of 2010. I expect the second half increase for 2011 to beless than the first half. The decline in U.S.liquid hydrocarbon imports has been influenced substantiallyby an approximate 2 million barrel/day decline in liquid hydrocarbon demand in recent years.