March 07, 2013
squabbling of red,
blue, and purple America, here’s something that can bring us together: oil.
1970, U.S. petroleum production topped 9.6 million barrels per day (mbd).
By 2008, volume had plummeted to a paltry 5.0 mbd. It appeared, to many, that “peak
oil” was for real, and that further decline was inevitable.
were wrong. Innovation made the downward trajectory quite evitable. Production
rose in 2009, again in 2010, and again in 2011. Economist Mark J. Perry, who closely
monitors domestic energy, found that “oil
production increased by 1.139 [mbd]” between 2011 and 2012, and The Wall Street Journal reports that it is
“set to surge even more in 2013.” If demand remains flat (thanks, Bush-Obama economic
implosion), and extraction continues to balloon, within a decade or so the U.S. might
produce all the oil it consumes. (If it doesn’t, Canada will make up the
legacy media are reporting the good news. “Fracking,” “the Bakken,” and “the
Eagle Ford” are now terms in common use, as more and more Americans learn that their
nation’s petroleum industry is experiencing a resurgence akin to the one
enjoyed by its natural-gas business.
But while Texas and North
Dakota deservedly garner most of the coverage, suddenly
accessible oil deposits can be found in many other spots. And with the right
policy shifts, additional states will begin -- or return to -- impressive oil
In Virginia, there’s
bipartisan support to overturn the Obama administration’s 2010 decision to
block lease sales in the Old Dominion’s waters. Late last year, The
New York Times reported that the
Eastern Seaboard “was once connected to the coast of West Africa before the
continent split in two and the pieces drifted apart, creating the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria alone has more than 37
billion barrels of proven reserves, much of it off the coast in deep water.” The
feds claim that not much oil is to be tapped below the Atlantic, but as the
American Petroleum Institute’s Andy Radford reminded the Times, “Initial estimates in the [Gulf of
Mexico] were five billion barrels of oil. We’ve already produced
over 20 billion, and current estimates are that there are 48 billion more.”
southwest, the Tuscaloosa marine shale, as described by a Louisiana State University study, is “a potentially
significant commercial oil reservoir under a large area straddling the Mississippi-Louisiana
boundary south of McComb, Mississippi and covering the Florida Parishes of
Louisiana, the southwestern counties in Mississippi and extending westward through
central Louisiana to the Texas border.” LSU’s researchers speculated that the formation
holds 7 billion barrels, but as exploration continues, expect the figure to rise.
In the Gulf of Mexico, where production will soon surpass the output reached
before the Deepwater Horizon
disaster, tens of billions of barrels lie off Florida’s coast. It’s time for state and
federal officials to ditch their scaremongering, and finally allow drilling in
the eastern Gulf. (Even global-warming paranoiac John McCain, during his 2008
presidential campaign, endorsed the idea.)
formation, which stretches across Wyoming,
is a tricky but sizable play. It helped the Centennial State, according to an
analysis by the Denver Business Journal,
produce “more than 40 million barrels of oil in 2012, the highest … total since
1962.” The Mississippi Lime trend, beneath the Oklahoma-Kansas border, is another
Sales of Stetsons and giant belt buckles
could soon spike in Ohio.
The U.S. Geological Survey projects that the Utica shale, located in the northeastern part
of the state, contains nearly a billion barrels of oil, plus 200 million
barrels of natural gas liquids. The nearby Great Lakes
offer additional opportunities. (Anything that U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is
against must be a good idea.)
California was once a petroleum powerhouse, but a
severe production decline began in 1985. If La-La
Land’s greenies can be bested, the
shale field contains billions of barrels -- the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
has already leased thousands of acres to drillers.
don’t care whether you enjoy NASCAR or Downton
Abbey, Budweiser or appletinis, gun racks or man purses. Black gold can be
found in nearly every corner of the country, and with the proper safeguards, the
stuff can be extracted with little risk to workers and negligible impact on the
environment. The industry compensates
its employees well, and pays a tankerful
of taxes at the local, state, and federal levels.
America,” some are calling it. Can we all agree to support it?
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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