05 November 2009 19:31 [Source: ICIS news]
By Joe Kamalick
In a study requested by Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said that the US reserves of oil, natural gas and coal plus technically recoverable undiscovered oil and gas total 1,321bn bbl of oil equivalent (BOE).
That figure does not include potentially recoverable and vast fossil energy resources in oil shale, gas shale and methane hydrates.
Much of the
Although rich in oil and natural gas reserves, the Saudis have not a single lump of coal.
The nation consumes about 1.2bn short tons of coal annually, largely in electric power generation, which means that the
Even if those reserves estimates are subjected to what the EIA calls an availability factor, counting only those coal deposits unhindered by environmental concerns for example, the
The total of US fossil energy resources actually may be much higher, because the Congressional Research Service study did not include in
Shale gas was not included, the CRS said, because “no systematic assessment of shale gas resources has been conducted for the
The report does note, however, that “industry and academic experts estimate that the technically recoverable volumes of natural gas from these shale deposits is very large”.
The CRS cited a recent estimate by the academic Potential Gas Committee that the
That would be on top of the 1,400,000 bcf of conventional onshore and offshore recoverable natgas resources.
If shale gas is added to US conventional gas resources, together they total slightly more than 2,000,000 bcf, or about an 85-year supply at current annual consumption rates of 23,000 bcf.
Nor did the CRS include potential
Also excluded from the
Methane hydrates - the object of multiple USGS and Department of Energy (DOE) exploration and production studies - are stable at varying levels of pressure and temperature, even up to 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius), although generally they are found at low but not necessarily freezing temperatures. When heated, the hydrate releases its methane, the principal component of natural gas.
Although no one really knows how much fossil energy may reside in methane hydrates, or even if they can be commercially exploited, the CRS study reported that the
For the math majors, that is 320 quadrillion cubic feet of potential gas resources.
Inhofe and Senator Lisa Murkowski of
Critical of the Obama administration’s focus on alternative and renewable energy resources, Inhofe said that “We should pursue an all-of-the-above strategy that advances new energy technologies but also prioritizes developing the resources we have today”.
“Whether through decree or purposeful inaction, government policies that unnecessarily restrict or prevent our ability to responsible produce these domestic resources are threatening, and could eventually undermine, our nation’s economic and national security,” Inhofe said.
“This report,” Murkowski said of the CRS study, “merely confirms what a lot of us have been saying for years: The US has abundant supplies of natural gas, oil and coal.”
“Any honest conversation about job creation, national security and affordable energy must include these resources, because they will continue to account for the bulk of our supply well into the future,” she added.
Murkowski and Inhofe list a dozen tax and funding decisions, oil and gas leasing withdrawals and blocked coal developments under the Obama administration that they charge are restricting rather than promoting domestic energy production.
“The Interior Department and others in the executive branch have every tool they need to allow production of these energy resources,’ Murkowski said.
“The question is whether the administration is willing to make that happen.”
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