The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced yesterday that it was seeking public input on issues that should be tackled by the bureau in preparing an Environmental Assessment for proposed seismic data acquisition activity in Arctic areas of the Alaska Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
ION Geophysical Corporation has applied to conduct an exploratory 2D marine seismic survey during the fall of 2012. The application proposes conducting operations throughout much of the Beaufort Sea Planning Area, with specific transect lines and segments within the Chukchi Sea Planning Area. Data obtained during this survey would be used by geologists and geophysicists to view and interpret large-scale subsurface geologic structural features and evaluate prospects for oil and gas reserves.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), an agency under the United States Department of the Interior that manages the exploration and development of the nation’s offshore resources, has also on its website announced ION’s permit application #12-01 and the associated area coverage map. BOEM has also explained the the procedures required for submission of comments, setting the deadline for April 30, 2012. More information can be found at BOEM’s official website.
Below you can see ION’s recent video: Case Study in Challenging
Environments: The Arctic Environment
Top of the world tactics at ION. See the ION approach in action as Joe Gagliardi, Director Arctic Technology & Solutions, tackles the punishing Arctic environment. By combining the capabilities across the company, ION delivers the answers and the technology that allows operators to acquire data further north than ever before and dramatically extends the short working season.
By JOHN MERLINE, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY
Posted 03/14/2012 01:03 PM ET
When he was running for the Oval Office four years ago amid $4-a-gallon gasoline prices, then-Sen. Barack Obama dismissed the idea of expanded oil production as a way to relieve the pain at the pump.
“Even if you opened up every square inch of our land and our coasts to drilling,” he said. “America still has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves.” Which meant, he said, that the U.S. couldn’t affect global oil prices.
It’s the same rhetoric President Obama is using now, as gas prices hit $4 again, except now he puts the figure at 2%.
“With only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” he said. “Not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil.”
The claim makes it appear as though the U.S. is an oil-barren nation, perpetually dependent on foreign oil and high prices unless we can cut our own use and develop alternative energy sources like algae.
U.S. Awash In Oil
But the figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil-poor, the country is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all the country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.
The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources,” because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.
When you look at the whole picture, it turns out that there are vast supplies of oil in the U.S., according to various government reports. Among them:
At least 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf yet to be discovered, according to the government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
About 24 billion barrels in shale deposits in the lower 48 states, according to EIA.
Up to 2 billion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Alaska’s North Slope, says the U.S. Geological Survey.
Up to 12 billion barrels in ANWR, according to the USGS.
As much as 19 billion barrels in the Utah tar sands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
Then, there’s the massive Green River Formation in Wyoming, which according to the USGS contains a stunning 1.4 trillion barrels of oil shale — a type of oil released from sedimentary rock after it’s heated.
A separate Rand Corp. study found that about 800 billion barrels of oil shale in Wyoming and neighboring states is “technically recoverable,” which means it could be extracted using existing technology. That’s more than triple the known reserves in Saudi Arabia.
All told, the U.S. has access to 400 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered using existing drilling technologies, according to a 2006 Energy Department report.
When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.
And even this number could be low, since such estimates tend to go up over time.
Back in 1995, for example, the USGS figured there were 151 million barrels of oil in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. In 2008, it upped that estimate to 3 billion barrels to 4.3 billion barrels — a 25-fold increase. Now, some oil analysts say there could be as much as 20 billion barrels there.
To be sure, energy companies couldn’t profitably recover all this oil — even at today’s prices — and what they could wouldn’t make it to market for years. But from the industry’s perspective, the real problem with domestic oil is that the government has roped off most of these supplies.
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, for example, put a huge swatch of land off-limits to drilling. And in 1982, Congress blocked access to most of the oil in the Outer Continental Shelf. Much of the oil on federal lands is also off-limits.
Obama and others say the industry’s claim about lack of access isn’t true, since they aren’t even using many of the offshore leases they already have. The industry counters that this is misleading, since a company needs the lease before it can determine if any oil exists there — a potentially time-consuming process.
In any case, any attempt to get at these vast new oil supplies is sure to face fierce opposition from environmental groups worried about oil production’s direct impact on the environment, as well as global warming worries.
But given today’s prices, most of the public is willing to expand drilling offshore, in ANWR, and in shale oil reserves, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll.
“This is not a geological problem — it’s a political problem,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research. “We’ve embargoed our own supplies.”
- Energy: Texas Tops Finds From Brazil to Bakken as Best Prospect (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Are Obama’s Oil Numbers Rigged? (foxnews.com)
- Exposing the 2 percent oil reserves mythInstitute for Energy Research (mb50.wordpress.com)
- The US Is Sitting On A 200-Year Supply Of Oil (businessinsider.com)
- Obama Misleads on Oil Reserves, Networks Defend Him, Fail to Fact Check (newsbusters.org)
Bernard L. Weinstein
Over the past three years, we have seen a dramatic rebound in America’s oil and natural gas production after a hiatus of almost 40 years. This has occurred despite falling output in Alaska, the moratorium on deep-water drilling imposed in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout last year, and extremely low prices for natural gas.
New technologies for extracting oil and gas from deep under the ocean floor as well as shale formations have been largely responsible for the country’s fossil fuel renaissance.
All this is good news for America’s consumers. Though gasoline and diesel prices have jumped 30 percent over the past year, absent the 11 percent increase in oil production from U.S. fields consumers might be paying even more.
At the same time, falling imports chopped about $20 billion off America’s import bill last year. Abundant new supplies of natural gas at low cost have reduced the home heating and electric bills for millions of American households.
In a sluggish economy, energy producing states like Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana are benefiting from the job and income growth associated with the resurgent energy sector.
Each of these states currently posts unemployment rates below the U.S. average of 9.1 percent and each has posted job gains over the past year, led by the energy sector.
According to a recently-released study by Quest Offshore Resources, drilling and production in the Gulf of Mexico currently support about 182,000 jobs in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — a number that would have been even higher in the absence of the deep-water moratorium. Should drilling permits return to their pre-Macondo pace, by 2013 Gulf of Mexico operations could support 320,000 jobs in these states.
Non-energy states are also benefiting from the nation’s fossil fuel revival. According to the American Petroleum Institute, 9.2 million jobs across the county can be attributed directly and indirectly to spending by the oil and gas industry.
Developing oil and gas resources currently off-limits in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), Alaska and the Rockies could create another 160,000 jobs by 2030 while expanding production in the Marcellus Shale and Canadian oil sands could add a further 620,000 over the next 20 years.
President Obama can help create these jobs by dropping his perennial call for higher taxes on U.S. oil and gas producers. These companies already fight an uphill battle against foreign firms who receive sweetheart tax and regulatory deals from their home governments.
Second, the OCS and other areas currently off-limits but rich in fossil fuels should be opened for environmentally-responsible exploration, drilling and production. Finally, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that will bring oil from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast should be approved without further delay.
The Energy Information Agency believes more than 59 billion barrels of recoverable oil reside in U.S. offshore waters. The U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated total recoverable oil reserves in North Dakota, home to the Bakken Formation, at four billion barrels.
Alaska, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas also possess great potential for additional oil and gas recovery, if only we have the political will.
Investing in North America’s energy resources, especially oil and gas, can revive our economy, lessen our dependence on imports, and increase our national security. But the current energy boom will only become sustainable if public policy becomes accommodating rather than inhibiting.