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World’s Oil and Gas Endowment

Icebergs immediately offshore from Illulissat, Greenland. This area was included in the USGS report, “An Estimate of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of the World, 2012.” Photograph by Chris Schenk, U.S. Geological Survey.

 

The U.S. Geological Survey released today a new global estimate for conventional oil and gas resources.  The USGS estimates that the undiscovered, conventional resources in the world total 565 billion barrels of oil (bbo), 5,606 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, and 167 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

All of these numbers represent technically recoverable resources, which are those quantities of oil and gas producible using currently available technology and industry practices, regardless of economic or accessibility considerations.

“In the twelve years since the last assessment, the steady progress in technology now allows additional resources to be regarded as technically recoverable,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt.  “By placing this information in the public domain, government leaders, investors, public and private corporations, and citizens have a common information base for planning and decisions that affect the global environment and market place.”

Vertical limestone beds forming cliffs along Three Pagodas-Fault Zone near Hua Hin, Thailand. This area was included in the USGS report, “An Estimate of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of the World, 2012.” Photograph by Chris Schenk, U.S. Geological Survey.

This new assessment is complete reassessment of the world since the last World Petroleum Assessment in 2000 by the USGS.

The report includes mean estimates of resources in 171 geologic provinces of the world.  These estimates include resources beneath both onshore and offshore areas.

Resources in the United States

This assessment does not include undiscovered, conventional resources in the United States, which the USGS currently estimates holds 27 bbo and 388 tcf of natural gas onshore and in State waters.  Additionally, there are an estimated 81 bbo and 398 tcf of natural gas in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

75 Percent of Oil Resources in Four Regions

The assessment results indicate that about 75 percent of the undiscovered and technically recoverable conventional oil of the world 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 bbo).

Significant undiscovered, conventional gas resources remain in all of the world’s regions.

Conventional and Unconventional Resources

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.

Eolian dunes of the An Nefud sand sea, northern Saudi Arabia. This area was included in the USGS report, “An Estimate of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of the World, 2012.” Photograph by Chris Schenk, U.S. Geological Survey.

More Information

The USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered and 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.

The Department of the Interior released a press release on this new assessment.

To learn more about this or other geologic assessments, please visit the Energy Resources Program website.

Recorded Press Conference

Listen to a podcast recording of the press conference held on April 18, 2012, to announce this report. Speakers were Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, USGS Director Marcia McNutt, USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Brenda Pierce, and USGS Research Geologist Chris Schenk.

 

 

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