Chart of the Day: The scope of the US oil shale resource

July 6, 2012

Production from the Alberta oil sands are changing the petroleum industry . . . but that resource is dwarfed by the potential of oil shale.  The US has more energy available in its oil shale alone than the entire global reserves of conventional oil.  This is on top of the trillion cubic feet of natural gas and the world’s largest reserves of coal.



  1. American energy policy has nothing to do with energy other than to suppress it’s development for the purpose of enforcing political control of commerce and personal activities of U.S. Citizens. The energy is there. Politicians refuse to development it and expand American Economy because those politicians are controlling megalomaniacs. They should be tried for Treasonous activity and suffer the full consequences of such Treason.

  2. Oil shale is VERY different from shale oil found in basins like Bakken. Shale must be cooked at hundreds of degrees to finish cooking it,making any known production unprofitable. Sure we have a ton of it, but it’s useless right now.

    • Yes, that has always been the case, but as the price of conventional crude remains above $70 (and it is well above that mark), oil shale recovery begins to look possible. The biggest limiting factor is water – some processes require 4 barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced. That is why Red Leaf’s EcoShale project is so tantalizing – it is relatively energy and cost efficient and does not use any water for production (it would of course require water for purposes of sustaining the production staff).

      • You are referring to “shale oil” also known as “tight oil”. These fields can be fracked profitably. Oil shale is a rock that cannot be fracked at all, at any price. Oil shale is also known as kerogen. No process exists to capture this oil yet.

      • 1) Estonia mines their kerogen and burns it in power plants

        2) If instead of squandering trillions on useless wind farms a small fraction was spent on unlocking kerogen as oil, it would be available in 50-100 years when the shale oil runs out.

    • If oil prices stay high, it will remain profitable. Basically oil shale development is a pretty good insurance policy against any big rise in oil prices, since oil shale prodiction would then kick in bigtime and stop that price rise. You should also not ignore the possibility of better technology in the future, that could lower recovery costs, just like fracking technology has now made natural gas much cheaper to recover.

  3. And Barack Obama is determined to keep it from us.

  4. […] Get rid of Obama It’s there for the taking if the “greens” can only be brought to heel . […]

  5. Government will never allow you to “tap” these resources.

    • it’s not the greens, nor the government, nor Barack Obama. If we can get the engineering right – that means making it both economically and environmentally sound – then the resource will certainly be tapped. Solve the engineering (and I believe the incentives are great enough now that this is will happen sooner rather than later) and the politics will resolve itself.

  6. This is more meaningful if we have the acreage and hence total energy for each class,I think. Also the benchmark oil price needed for profitable production. The benchmark price will vary widely across different formations and reservoirs and is harder to know. But I hear numbers like $80 per barrel for Oil Sands and I beleive Oil Shale is cheaper to produce.

  7. Can you post a link to the source of this graph? I’d like to take a closer look at the report.

    • Unfortunately, it is from a printed copy from meeting minutes published by the Government Printing Office. I will post the bibliographical info when I get back to my office on Monday.

      • Lucas, here is the bibliographic info:

        U.S. House of Representatives (2005), The Vast North American Resource Potential Of Oil
        Shale, Oil Sands, And Heavy Oils, Parts 1 And 2: Oversight Hearings Before The Subcommittee
        On Energy And Mineral Resources Of The Committee On Resources, U.S. House Of
        Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, First Session, June 23, 2005 and June 30, 2005.
        Serial No. 109-22.

        that is where the background info behind the data is found. the chart itself is from a Shell Oil presentation on their own oil shale research; that presentation can be found here: http://www.coloradomining.org/Content/Programs…/OilShaleDev_Long.pdf

  8. This chart only relates to the concentration of oil in the reserve. It means little until it is related to the number of acres in the reserve.

  9. What about the Bakken shale in ND and the reported large shale deposits in central CA?

  10. […] Oil reserves.  We could be free of our dependence on OPEC oil fairly quick.  And create real jobs.  But, we probably won’t.  Hat tip, Transterrestrial. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Categories: Government Intrusion, Humor & Fluff, Media Hypocrisy Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback […]

  11. The Obama administration is backwards on energy. Wind, solar and bio fuels are the way they want to go. What an utter waste of our tax dollars!!!

  12. […] Chart of the Day: The Scope of the US Oil Shale Resource […]

  13. […] EnerGeoPolitics […]

  14. We can’t let things change, that would endanger reality.

    Or am I being a bit anal?

  15. We can’t let things change, that would imperil reality!

    Or am I being anal?

  16. I have worked in the oil and gas fields in Northern Oklahoma for 25 years. All of this hub-bub about oil shale (especially coal shale) is a batch of baloney, designed to be a vehicle for scammers to bilk investors into investing in mineral leases that won’t be commercial until oil reaches $250-$300 per barrel. With today’s technology, yes, you can extract oil from this shale; it takes about 3 barrels of equivalent energy to get 1 barrel of oil. That is some reserve!!!This oil shale deal has been and is still one of the biggest rip-offs I have ever seen in the oil field (and I have seen some big ones) And Tar sand ventures is a close second. Now—as far as Obama. The drilling in the United States is at an all time high; there have been no major changes to regulations concerning new drilling; and the US in going into the 5th month of domestic oil production being above foreign oil imports. The domestic oil companies have been reporting record breaking quarterly profits, and the super lucrative oil companies are one of the heaviest governmentally subsidized business in the world. You people that are bashing the Obama Administration need to—get real.

    • George, you got your lefty eco AGW talking points confused.

      You’re fake stat of 3 barrels of equivalent energy to get 1 is utter and total Bullshit. Yea, all those companies are running out there in the Bakken and Eagleford and Niobrara to lose money 3 to 1.

      Oh yea, we really believe you work in the oil field 25 years and are an ardent Obama supporter. Take your sockpuppets back to Huffpo.

    • “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Mark Twain.

      “Renewable energy and energy efficiency accounted for $16 billion of the federal support, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while the fossil-fuel industry received $2.5 billion in tax breaks. ” http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/07/news/economy/energy-subsidies/index.htm

      Fossil fuel (coal, oil, and natural gas) production on Federal and Indian lands is the lowest in the 9 years EIA reports data and is 6 percent less than in fiscal year 2010.
      Crude oil and lease condensate production on Federal and Indian lands is 13 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.
      Natural gas production on Federal and Indian lands is the lowest in the 9 years that EIA reports data and is 10 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.
      Natural gas plant liquids production on Federal and Indian lands is 3 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.
      Coal production on Federal and Indian lands is the lowest in the 9 years of data that EIA reported and is 2 percent lower than in fiscal year 2010.


      George, to quote Congressman Wilson, You lie.

    • From what I understand the vast majority of drilling that is occurring in the U.S. is on land that is not federally regulated, beyond the grasp of the administration.

      No industry should be subsidized, but let’s not forget about the White House & firms like Solyndra, sycophant.

    • If the oil sands ( in progspeak – tar sand of Fort McMurray had been created by an oil spill, the left would be suffering an brain aneurysm while screaming about cleaning it up & demanding the harshest of punishment. In their minds crude deposited by nature is great, crude deposited by an oil spill is an outrage that threatens all life as we know it. Funny thing is that so many of them choose to live & spend the majority of their lives
      in concrete jungles, they wouldn’t be caught dead spending any amount of time around the mosquito infested moose p

      • …pasture that makes up much of the Fort Mac area unless they had a protest to attend.

    • Twenty five years in one place? I thought oil field work entailed some moving around.

  17. A small, practical and sensible oil company named Genie Oil (GNE) has been working for the past 3 years or so to determine the best, most economical method of recovering shale oil, both in Israel (did you know that Israel has something like 250 billion barrels of shale oil?) and the Colorado – Utah- Wyoming deposits. They intend to build pilot plants in both locations during 2013-2014, so I guess that any questions about shale oil recovery will be answered once and for all. It would also be nice if the airheads that know nothing would keep their mouths shut until all the facts are known.

  18. […] v CLIMATE CHANGE” Debate – Part 1 – OIL and its Contribution …Ecomonic CarsChart of the Day: The scope of the US oil shale resource ul.legalfooter li{ list-style:none; float:left; padding-right:20px; } .accept{ display:none; […]

  19. […] doesn’t seem like the US has much to worry in seems of oil supply.  What’s more, our huge supply of natural gas is being used at an increasing rate which, […]

  20. […] The scope of the US oil shale resource The scope of the US oil shale resource […]

  21. […] The scope of the US oil shale resource The scope of the US oil shale resource […]

  22. […] […]

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