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Sen. Murkowski Revised Energy Fact Sheet


America’s Tremendous Oil Potential

The extent of America’s petroleum resources has been mischaracterized for nearly a century.  Opponents of greater production routinely claim that an increase in domestic supply could never be sustained because America is “running out of oil.”  The truth?  Greater domestic oil production is not only possible – it is necessary to help protect America from global supply disruptions, create new jobs, pay down the debt, close our trade gap, reduce energy prices, and expedite the development of next-generation technologies.

Is America “running out of oil”?

· Nope. Dire predictions have been made since at least 1919, when the head of a federal agency announced that “within the next two to five years the oil fields of this country will reach their maximum production, and from that time on we will face an ever-increasing decline.”  Obviously, that was incorrect.

· Some claim the United States “has just 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil.”  This is highly misleading, because reserves are just one small part of the full picture.  America is actually the world’s third-largest oil producer.  Our proven oil “reserves” have never exceeded 40 billion barrels, but somehow we’ve produced nearly 200 billion barrels since 1900.

How much oil does America have?

· According to a November 2010 report from the Congressional Research Service, which surveyed existing government estimates, the United States’ technically recoverable oil resource base totals 162.9 billion barrels.

· That’s enough oil to sustain our current rate of production for the next 62 years.  If domestic production was increased to replace all imports from the Persian Gulf, our own oil would still last for about 50 years.

· America could also have far more conventional crude oil.  We’ve never fully explored our own lands, but whenever we look for oil, we tend to find more.  Estimates for offshore oil have now more than quadrupled.  Onshore, Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay was originally estimated between 1 and 5 billion barrels, but has already yielded more than 16 billion barrels and is still producing over a half million barrels each day

Where is America’s oil located?

· America’s oil base consists of 28.4 billion barrels of proven reserves, 48.6 billion barrels of onshore resources (including natural gas liquids), 85.8 billion barrels of offshore resources  In 2010, 31 States produced oil.

· The continental OCS holds a prolific amount of oil.  There are roughly 72 billion barrels in the Gulf of Mexico OCS; 13 billion barrels in the Pacific OCS; and another 4 billion barrels in the Atlantic OCS.

· Roughly 40 billion barrels of oil are located in northern Alaska in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska; the non-wilderness portion of ANWR; and Alaska’s OCS.  All of these resources, however, are currently off-limits.

What about America’s unconventional oil?

· While the U.S. is known as the “Saudi Arabia” of coal, our oil shale deposits may be even greater.  The Interior Department estimates we have at least 800 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil shale.

· At current rates of consumption, that is equivalent to a 114-year supply of conventional oil.

What other benefits are associated with American oil production?

· A 2008 study from ICF International concluded that greater domestic oil production would increase government revenues by $547 billion to $1.7 trillion and create 114,000 to 161,000 jobs by 2030.

· A December 2010 study by Wood Mackenzie concluded that greater domestic oil production would likely generate $150 billion in government revenues and create up to 530,000 jobs by 2025.

· New domestic oil production would help protect America from supply disruptions by reducing the need for imported oil.  It would also reduce oil prices by increasing supply, adding to global spare capacity, and generating revenues that can be invested in technologies (e.g. alternative vehicles) that reduce oil demand.

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