Excluding the United States, the world holds an estimated
565 billion barrels (bbo) of undiscovered, technically recoverable conventional
oil; 5,606 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of undiscovered, technically recoverable
conventional natural gas; and 167 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically
recoverable natural gas liquids (NGL), according to a new assessment by the
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released today.
The report includes mean estimates of undiscovered
but technically recoverable conventional oil and gas resources in 171 geologic
provinces of the world. These estimates include resources beneath both onshore
and offshore areas.
The numbers represent technically recoverable oil
and gas resources, which are those quantities of oil and gas producible using
currently available technology and industry practices, regardless of economic
or accessibility considerations. This assessment does not include reserves –
accumulations of oil or gas that have been discovered, are well-defined, and
are considered economically viable.
This assessment does not include the United States;
however, the USGS is continuously assessing American domestic resources. More
information on domestic assessments is available here.
The assessment results indicate that about 75
percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable conventional oil of the
world, exclusive of the United States, is in four regions: South America and
the Caribbean (126 bbo); sub-Saharan Africa (115 bbo); the Middle East and
North Africa (111 bbo); and the Arctic provinces portion of North America (61
“In particular, this assessment underscores the
importance of continuing to strengthen our energy partnerships in the Western
Hemisphere with nations like Brazil, where we are working closely with industry
and government to share best practices on offshore drilling safety and to
enhance the energy security of both our countries,” U.S. Secretary of the
Interior Salazar says.
“In the 12 years since the last assessment, the
steady progress in technology now allows additional resources to be regarded as
technically recoverable,” USGS Director Marcia McNutt says. U.S. dependence on
foreign oil has gone down every year during the Obama administration –
including a reduction in net oil imports by ten percent – or a million barrels
a day – in the last year alone. The U.S. imported approximately 11.4 million
barrels per day of petroleum in 2011 from about 80 different countries. In
2011, about 79 percent of gross petroleum imports were crude oil, and
approximately 60 percent of the crude oil processed in U.S. refineries was
imported, according to the Energy Information Administration.
This new assessment represents a complete
reassessment of the world since the last World Petroleum Assessment in 2000 by
the USGS, which estimated 649 bbo, 4,669 tcf of gas, and 207 bbo of NGL in 128
geologic provinces. Many new areas were included in the current study, defining
and assessing 313 assessment units throughout the world, as compared to 246 in
These new estimates are for conventional oil and gas
resources only. Unconventional oil and gas resources, such as shale gas, tight
oil, tight gas, coalbed gas, heavy oil, oil sands, may be significant around
the world, but are not included in these numbers.
USGS is the only provider of publicly available
estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the
world. This global assessment was undertaken as part of a project assessing
global petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol.
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior