The article “U.S. oil resources: President Obama’s ‘non sequitur facts’” focuses on disproving President Obama’s quotes on oil resources and oil consumption. President Obama states, “…oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves” (Obama, American energy); however, Kessler pulls data from the Energy Information Administration that says “…U.S. reserves hit a peak of nearly 40 billion barrels in 1970…and now stand at about 22 billion barrels” (EIA data). However, the U.S. also had “proven oil reserves of 22 billion barrels through much of the 1940s” (Kessler). With this information, Kessler provided the reason that could explain these numbers—more oil sources are being discovered.
Estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement “add at least 140 billion barrels to what is known as the U.S. endowment of oil, for a total of more than 160 billion barrels” (Kessler), giving a total that’s 8 times vaster than proven reserves. These estimates are also liable to change because of new tactics to produce oil (different mediums, such as oil shale mentioned below).
In addition to newly found oil reserves and estimates, the technique applied to extract have become more efficient, “…increased Bakken production from about 3,000 barrels per day in 2005 to 137,000 barrels per day in 2009 and 225,000 barrels per day in 2010” (Newell, Congress Testimony). These techniques (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) have also been promising to oil shale—another type of oil but is not currently economically viable, possibly in the future.
Kessler moves onto the R/P ratio, which is defined as “the length of time the proven reserves will last at the current production rate” (Kessler). BP stated that the U.S.’ ratio stands at 11.3 years, however this ratio was the same about 40 years ago. This again leads back to the claim that oil reserves are still being discovered and can still sustain the population.
With this information, Kessler continues that with these numbers, the President’s argument for better energy efficiency isn’t as strong.
Kessler, Glenn. “U.S. Oil Resources: President Obama’s ‘non Sequitur Facts’.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 18 Sept. 2012.