US oil reserves now top Saudi Arabia's
The world of energy, which is to say the course of the world economy, has been turned upside-down with the fracking revolution. Less glamorous than information technology, perhaps, but the extraction of the formerly inaccessible reserves embedded in shale is having a profound effect on the world’s political economy, and in particular on the United States’ pre-eminence, strategically and economically.
Nothing could better symbolize the change than the revelation that the United States is now calculated to have more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. Ronald Bailey of Reason caught the news:
The Rystad Energy consultancy has just released its new calculations of global oil reserves and estimates that the U.S. may harbor as much 264 billion barrels of oil compared to Saudi Arabia's 212 billion barrels. Overall, world oil reserves exceed 2 trillion barrels. At current production rates, this is enough oil to supply the world for 70 years.
The Rystad analysts compare their estimates with those of the closely watched annual BP Statistical Review that conservatively calculates that the U.S. has 55 billion barrels of proved reserves and that world reserves stand at just under 1.7 trillion barrels.
It is not just the U.S. benefiting, of course:
ExxonMobil's 2016 annual Outlook for Energy report observes:
Technology is not just expanding our daily oil production; it also continues to increase the amount of oil and liquid fuels we can count on for the future.
In 1981, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that remaining global recoverable crude and condensate resources were 1 trillion barrels; today, the IEA estimates that it is 4.5 trillion barrels – enough to meet global oil demand beyond the 21st century. By 2040, the amount of resources yet to be produced will still be far higher than total production prior to 2040, even with a 20 percent rise in global oil demand.
I am old enough to remember when the Club of Rome famously predicted the end of oil by 2000, a prediction that was embraced by many progressives. Far more recently, in 2012, President Obama lectured us (hat tip: Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit) that we can’t drill our way to lower oil prices.
Pessimism about the future of America is endemic, but if our politics were reformed, the gross corruption at the top excised from the body politic, the combination of American leadership in fracking, and American leadership in information technology could make the 21st century see even greater American domination of world affairs.