Wow. Get ready for another Texas oil boom. Excerpt:
A recent assessment found the “Wolfcamp shale” geologic formation in the Midland area holds an estimated 20 billion barrels of accessible oil along with 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. That’s three times higher than the amount of recoverable crude the agency found in the Bakken-Three Forks region in the upper midwest in 2013, making it “the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that USGS has assessed in the United States to date,” according to a statement.
“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program.
Guidroz attributed that potential to “changes in technology” — i.e., the advent and perfection of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Such advances “can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable,” he said.
There’s an old saying that today’s problems are solved with tomorrow’s technology. This is a good illustration of that premise; this oil was not just now discovered, in fact it was just the many recent improvements in drilling and fracking technology that has made this vast reserve economically feasible to recover.
Tomorrow’s technology is, of course, undiscovered and unknowable; in his youth in the 1930s, the Old Man couldn’t have imagined a modern smart-phone if he had tried for a week, and an oil rig foreman or even an oil company executive in that decade likewise probably couldn’t have imagined modern drilling techniques.
That’s what makes the shouting of Chicken Little types all the more ridiculous. Folks have been shouting “peak oil” for decades, and every advance makes more oil and gas recoverable. Eventually, one day, sure, the oil and gas will run out; some new technology will take its place. But at the moment, the economy of the Western world runs on oil, and will continue to do so for some time. Advances like this just makes the price of basic energy more affordable, which is a net economic gain for everyone.