Last month at a conference in Moscow, BP analysts released an official report claiming that the world’s oil and gas reserves will only last for the next 53.3 years. According to the team of analysts, there is believed to be “only” approximately 1,687.9 billion barrels left, a number that would quickly be devoured.
The 53 years estimate, however, has come under a lot of criticism for being misleading and for being used as a scare tactic. That’s because the BP analysts did not include the potential for shale reserves in their estimate.
What are shale reserves?
Well, over the last few years, experts have developed new ways of tapping into the earth’s oil reserves. The most popular of these reserves is shale oil.
Shale oil, also known as kerogen oil, is an unconventional oil produced from oil shale rock fragments. Through a few short processes that remove the sulfur and nitrogen, this oil is then immediately ready for consumption.
As of today, nobody is quite sure exactly how much shale oil is available in the earth, but some scientists believe that the number is huge. Not surprisingly, oil companies are already working hard to gather this new form of oil. Currently, there are huge efforts to unlock this shale oil with the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian Basin movements.
Their discoveries have staggeringly altered oil and gas projections. The Eagle Ford Shale official website has even called their operation, “quite possibly the largest single economic development in the history of the state of Texas and ranks as the largest oil & gas development in the world based on capital invested.”
Shale oil looks so bright that the U.S. Energy Information Administration was even recently forced to increase their oil reserve estimates by more than 15%, while BP themselves was forced to increase estimates by 26%.
But these numbers are just based on current tangible commodities. The actual number of yet untapped shale reserves in the earth is a lot higher. Matt DiLallo of the USA Today reports, “Despite the big boost in reserves over the past year, there appears to be much more oil potential in each shale play, with the Permian Basin really standing out.”
How much more shale oil is there? Well, in Russia alone, experts at The Economist Intelligence Unit have estimated that there is at least 1.24 trillion barrels. This, of course, is much, much, MUCH higher than the current BP estimate of 1,687.9 billion barrels.