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Oil Deposit Could Increase US Reserves 10x 869

Posted by kdawson
from the swimming-in-it dept.
HighWizard notes the upcoming release, on Thursday, of a report by the US Geological Survey on the Bakken Formation. This is an oil field covering 200,000 square miles and underlying parts of North and South Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan. A geologist who began surveying the field, before dying in 2000, believed it may hold as much as 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Later estimates have ranged to the hundreds of billions of barrels. Such a reserve would go a long way toward securing US energy independence.
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Oil Deposit Could Increase US Reserves 10x

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  • 6000SUX (Score:4, Funny)

    by Zymergy (803632) * on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:19AM (#23008882)
    Awesome! ...And in the nick of time too, the dealer just called and my brand new 6000SUX just came in!
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=FLMVNyYb1SE [youtube.com]
    • Re:6000SUX (Score:4, Funny)

      by gsarnold (52800) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [dlonrasg]> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @07:38AM (#23011062)
      I'll buy *that* for a dollar!

    • Re:6000SUX (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bryce4president (1247134) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @08:34AM (#23011422)
      Nice joke. But the real joke is the fact that people think our gasoline consumption has some huge effect on our oil usage. Actually our automobile fuel usage only accounts for 10% of our overall oil consumption. All those plastics that our cars are made of, and almost everything else we buy for cheap is made up come from petroleum :) So the next time you are asked paper or plastic? You might want to give paper another look. (after all, last year saw the first INCREASE in forest coverage from a previous year in quite a long time...so tress are on the rebound and reproduce much quicker than oil)
      • Re:6000SUX (Score:5, Funny)

        by Slovenian6474 (964968) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @08:46AM (#23011544) Homepage
        Last time I was at Wal-Mart and the lady started to put my purchases in a plastic bag, I said I can carry them myself. It was only a few things and an extra bag around would be slightly annoying. She replied with "That's good. Save a tree." I stopped for a second about to explain that the bag was made from petroleum, not trees. I would, infact, be saving oil. I decided not to say anything at all because my purchase consisted of several quarts of oil due to the fact that my car leaks oil like a sieve.
        • Re:6000SUX (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bonehead (6382) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:17AM (#23011806)
          You might want to replace that gasket.
        • by cnaumann (466328) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23012650)

          According to this cute chart:

          http://www.energy.ca.gov/gasoline/whats_in_barrel_oil.html

          A little more than 50% of a barrel of oil becomes gasoline.

          And this little tidbit from the plastics industry:

          Less than .05% of a barrel of
          oil goes into making all the plastic bags used in the US while 93% - 95% of every barrel of
          crude oil is burned for fuel and heating purposes. Although they are made from natural gas or
          oil, plastic bags actually consume less fossil fuels during their lifetime than do compostable
          plastic and paper bags.


          http://www.plasticsindustry.org/about/fbf/myths+facts_grocerybags.pdf

          --

          Seriously, how many pounds of plastic bags could you possibly be using in a year? How many pounds of plastic on in your car? A weekly 15 gallon fill-up is about 90 pounds of fuel, or a little less than 2.5 tons a year. My whole car doesn't weight that much, and most of it is steel.

          Save your bags if it makes you feel good, but it ain't gonna make any real difference.
          • by Bryansix (761547) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:32PM (#23014176) Homepage

            Save your bags if it makes you feel good, but it ain't gonna make any real difference.
            Actually the problem with plastic bags is a waste problem and not with how they are made. They are super efficient as carrying devices but then what? The catch a small breeze and now they are a litter problem bound to last for decades. The solution here is to use reusable bags. Also Ralph's (Kroger)has a program where each time you use a reusable bag you get 10 cents off the total of your purchases. I get 20 cents off each purchase because I have two of them. They pay for themselves in no time.
      • Re:6000SUX (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rubberglove (1066394) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:15AM (#23011776)
        Or just bring your own bag(s).

        I've done this for just about every grocery trip for the past two or three years (except for maybe once a month or two when I actually want a few bags for household garbage cans).

        You don't have to be an ecowarrior to think that the number of bags that we use (and throw away) is ridiculous. Here in Canada it's something like 10 billion a year (!).

        But the 'environmental' aspect of it is only part of it. Frankly, I stopped taking bags from the grocery store mostly just because I was sick of having so many of the damn things that I would never use. But once I started, I realized just how more convenient it is to have a larger sturdy bag (or bags, usually) that I can throw over my shoulder instead of a dozen or so flimsy plastic ones that are uncomfortable to carry.

        Even when I'm doing a larger shopping run with a car (about half the time over the winter) it's still a hell of a lot easier to carry two big blue ikea bags to the kitchen.

        Over these past 3 years I've noticed a huge shift in attitudes about the whole thing. It used to be that I'd have to practically shove the grocery bagboy out of the way and get into a discussion about why I didn't want their bags. Now it seems like at least a third of people bring their own bags, and most stores give a 5 cent discount for it (yay. 5 cents).
  • by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:19AM (#23008884) Journal

    I wonder what this does for theories of for oil. Some people theorize that petroleum is left over from the formation of the earth, rather than created by the fossilization of carbon life forms. [wikipedia.org]

    This reserve may be difficult to tap fully because of the nature of the rocks. I wonder if nuclear weapons would help. I guess it depends on how and where they were deployed.

    How many tons of CO2 would be created with the burning of 500 billion barrels of oil? BTW, 500 billion barrels of oil would be about 1/6th of the world's oil reserves.

    Is there really that much oxygen in the atmoshpere to burn all that? Let's see. The earth's atmosphere weighs 5 quadrillion metric tons... [wikipedia.org] OK, no worries there.

    but, but, the global warmings! The sea level could rise 50 feet in the next century. [checks current elevation of homestead] OK, that's fine.

    But it would be hot! [checks average temps for homestead] ok, yeah, I can get behind that.

    What about the polar bears? [checks polar bear shares in 401K] We're looking good!

    But the crops! The crops won't grow! [Checks map of world showing land in permafrost [uwsp.edu]] Looks like a net gain to me.

    Ok, yeah! We have more oil! Can we exploit it faster than we have more people?

    • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:54AM (#23009174) Homepage Journal
      I wonder if nuclear weapons would help.

      Perhaps you can explain--exactly under what circumstances do nuclear weapons not help?

      That said, those sound like fightin' words so I'd be careful. We might not have much up in Montana, but we do have nukes. Some 200 ICBMs [nukewatch.com] with several MIRVs to be exact. You want our oil? Come and get it!
    • Re:We have more oil? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Itchyeyes (908311) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:54AM (#23009178) Homepage
      I'm a petroleum engineer who works for an independent oil and gas company that has recently become active in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. So let me try and answer these questions one by one.

      This theory is complete and utter bunk. Nobody, and I really mean nobody, seriously invested in the search for petroleum reserves subscribes to it. The Bakken is a traditional petroleum reservoir where the hydrocarbons are created by biological matter subject to intense heat and pressure.

      The reason that the Bakken is just now considered a viable reservoir is not because more oil has been generated but because the technology and price of oil have advanced enough to where it's now a viable and economic source of oil. The current buzz about the Bakken is specifically relegated to horizontal wells, a technology that has just recently come into its own.

      This reserve may be difficult to tap fully because of the nature of the rocks. I wonder if nuclear weapons would help. I guess it depends on how and where they were deployed.

      I'm assuming this is a joke, but nuclear weapons have actually been tested in oil fields to increase production. Traditionally, a well is hydrolicaly fractured with pressure to increase the permiability of the rock and increase the ease in which the hydrocarbons can flow. However, explosives can produce a similar result. Nuclear explosives though are actually poor tools to fracture a well with since the intense heat "glasses" the rock and prevents flow.

      How many tons of CO2 would be created with the burning of 500 billion barrels of oil? BTW, 500 billion barrels of oil would be about 1/6th of the world's oil reserves.

      Fewer than would be produced generating the same amount of energy with coal, which currently provides about 70% of our energy in the US. Even if we all decide today that we're going to swear off fossil fuels, the process of converting our society to the alternatives will take decades, decades in which we will still rely on millions of barrels of oil every day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KDR_11k (778916)
        Even if we all decide today that we're going to swear off fossil fuels, the process of converting our society to the alternatives will take decades, decades in which we will still rely on millions of barrels of oil every day.

        Which is why that decision should've been made decades ago. The switch will never be painless, just like switching from MS Office or Windows to the competition will never be painless.
        • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @02:27AM (#23009746)

          Which is why that decision should've been made decades ago.

          Why do you think planning things decades ahead works? Why do you think we'd make better decisions than the ones we did make? For example, fifty years ago, we had a good idea about the extent of Middle East oil (it was starting to be exploited), but no idea about how unstable the region was going to be. Nuclear power looked huge (they were planning at one point to have 40-50 nuclear plants lining just the California coast to exploit the Pacific Ocean as a heat sink). Solar and wind power (for electricity generation) weren't developed yet. They still had some places to put in hydroelectric plants in the developed world. Computers and space technology were very crude. We just found out about DNA. The greenhouse effect was just a vague theory. The economic surge of the Third World wasn't expected.

          I guess my point here is that any energy-based plans in the late 50's would be completely obselete by now. You seem to imply that we should have decided to shift away from oil a few decades ago. But what would have been the basis of such a decision? That there were only a few decades of oil production (which incidentally, we're in the process of blowing past)? That fossil fuel burning causes air pollution? Those have been addressed. What we think of as problems now, will be dealt with. It might mean that we move away in the near future from burning fossil fuels, or not. But in fifty years, what we see as problems now, will change. Old problems may vanish while new ones take their place.

          • by Simon (815) <simon AT simonzone DOT com> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @05:02AM (#23010478) Homepage

            Why do you think planning things decades ahead works? Why do you think we'd make better decisions than the ones we did make?

            Ok, so you are saying that we didn't know decades ago that being dependent on oil [wikipedia.org] might be a bad idea and that we should try to get off it?

            --
            Simon
            • by aurispector (530273) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @08:45AM (#23011532)
              I can actually *remember* the lines to fill up . All the arguments about energy policy here are bunk except for one; cost, pure and simple. With oil, you stick a big straw in the ground and suck it out, then boil it to break it down into gas and stuff. Then you put it in your car and burn it. Nothing else is that cheap or simple and has as much energy per gallon.

              The hidden advantage of the current prices is that other technologies become economically viable for development. Besides, there's plenty of OIL right now - current high gas prices are due to a relative lack of refining capacity. I'd bet that when gas hits $5 a gallon in the US, suddenly new refineries will spring up, but also more alternate energy sources will become competitive. THIS IS THE KEY. Once it's really worth it to try out new technologies (a prius does not yet save you money in terms of total cost of ownership), we hit critical mass for research and funding and the market takes care of the rest. Economies of scale will reduce the costs and after a while oil isn't all that profitable, especially when the easily pumped deposits dwindle and it's more expensive to suck it out of the ground.

              • Re:We have more oil? (Score:4, Interesting)

                by ivan256 (17499) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:02AM (#23011650)
                We actually have plenty of refining capacity. Production is up and consumption is down. In recent weeks, gasoline reserves have been as much as 10% higher than historical averages.

                The reason the price of oil and gasoline are so high right now is the flood of speculative investors into the oil market. That adds a lot of demand, but it's not consumer demand. Production continues, and that oil will have to end up on the market eventually... Whoever the next president is, they will get credit for "solving" the problem, even though the important bits have already played out.
                • Re:We have more oil? (Score:5, Informative)

                  by RatPh!nk (216977) <ratpH1nk@gM[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @09:54AM (#23012202)

                  We actually have plenty of refining capacity.

                  I just want to point this out:

                  The US total refining capacity was 17,443,492 barrels of oil/day, which yields on average, 340,148,094 gallons @19.5gallons gas/barrel of oil. The current consumption of gas in the US is 388.6 million gallons/day (as of 2006)


                  If those numbers are correct, we are at a 48,451,906 gallon/day shortfall of US domestic production capacity. Since no one wants a refinery in their backyard, there hasn't been a new one built since the 1970's (The last refinery built in the US was in Garyville, Louisiana, and it started up in 1976.)


                  So "we" as in the US, have a serious lack of refinery capacity.


                  Sources:
                  http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/quickfacts/quickoil.html [doe.gov]
                  http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/eng99/eng99288.htm [anl.gov]
                  http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/news/ntn12966.htm [gasandoil.com]
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TapeCutter (624760)
            I was born in the '50's and wholeheartedly agree with you. Back then a 200hp industrial electric motor was about the size of a mini, today they can fit in a suitcase. However I think some governments (in particular the US & Australia) have been deliberately sticking their fingers in their ears and singing tingle-ingle-loo since the late 90's. Some lobbyists (particulaly coal & oil) have sponsered mass media anti-science campagins that remind me of the tabacco 'scientists' of the 80's (look up a guy
      • by Travoltus (110240) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @01:49AM (#23009570) Journal
        And in China they say "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

        So it takes decades to convert our society to renewable energy. That means we start TODAY. In earnest.

        The conversion of America to alternative, clean, renewable energy (and not the Ethanol Scam) is an engineering and collective will issue, not a scientific issue.

        If I were President, my plan would be to take a manual transmission approach to the issue.

        Here's how my "Manhattan Project" would go:

        Gear 1 - the quick, short term stuff. Corporate tax breaks and subsidies for electric car production. Electric cars have existed - even electric SUV's (the old RAV-4, anyone? Don't tell me I'm wrong, I NOW HAVE ONE - they're just not being made anymore).

        Tax breaks and rebates for solar energy panels on houses and apartments. BIG breaks and rebates, proportional to the kilowatt/hour rating of the installed system. We fund this tax break by stimulating the economy - solar energy purchases and then the resulting rise in consumer spending as energy prices decrease ESPECIALLY DURING THE BOILING HOT SUMMER.

        Start funding and constructing pebble bed nuclear power plants. Go bare knuckle with the environmentalists. James Lovelock, the founder of the Gaia Theory, supports this as an intermediate step towards cleaner, more renewable energy in the future. This should take 20-30 years to realize the benefits. Best to start now.

        Gear 2 - Incentives for solar powered electric chargers for gas stations to power up electric cars. Make use of the existing infrastructure to change the infrastructure.

        Start construction on a 500 sq mile solar farm in a sunny, remote location. Or break up said solar farm into several sunny locations around the country. This is enough power for the entire world during the day.

        Slowly phase out coal power plants when exceeded by its solar cousins, but leave enough to take care of night time/bad weather issues.

        Government contracts to research higher miles-per-charge for cars.

        Gear 3 - A nationwide "give back to the power grid" incentive for homes. Basically, people who generate solar power on their rooftops while they are at work and nothing's going on in their house, profit when they're using no power and their solar panels are pumping energy back into the grid. They get 100% MARKET VALUE for that energy - exactly 1 for 1 versus what they would pay if they used it. Adjusted daily, weekly or monthly, however it goes.

        Bigger Government contracts to research higher miles-per-charge for cars. Performance based. Now we start pushing for conversions of the big haulers (big rigs), as well as pushing them to bio diesel with emphasis on converting used veggie oil, etc.

        Gear 4 - the first pebble bed nuclear plants go online. Drastic "as immediate as possible" cutbacks in coal and oil powered plants but not enough to completely offset the new nuclear plants.

        More Government contracts to research higher miles-per-charge for electric and biodiesel-powered big rigs. Performance based.

        Gear 5 - shutdown of all remaining polluting (Coal/Oil) power plants as all planned nuclear reactors go online and the solar farms are up, and over 50% of all US homes are solar powered.

        Hopefully at this point we won't need Government contracts for high miles-per-charge cars; the market should reach critical mass. Research for electric and biodiesel powered big rigs continues until every new rig produced runs on one or the other.

        Manhattan project complete. The big mushroom cloud you see is the giant earth-shattering KABOOM that is OPEC corporate heads exploding along with their profits.
        • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @04:37AM (#23010370) Homepage
          Solar cannot replace Coal. It's completely unsuitable for supplying base-load power because it only works half the time (at best).

          Right now, nuclear is the only viable alternative to coal that we have. Based upon the proposals for new plants to be constructed, it looks like Nuclear is quickly becoming the preferred source for new construction. It won't happen overnight, but I'm confident that we're moving in the right direction.
        • I fully understand that you can and we should shift away from fossil fuels as fast as possible and I strongly agree with all of your notes. However, I wouldn't restrict to just pebble bed reactors as a number of other reactors are passively safe and even just standard issue WPR are quite safe and quite effective. However, my main objection is that it just might be too little too late. I think there needs to be another Gear to research and implement some way to remove the heat-trapping pollution already in t
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dlevitan (132062)
          I'll just comment on some of the stuff mostly unique to this post:

          Tax breaks and rebates for solar energy panels on houses and apartments. BIG breaks and rebates, proportional to the kilowatt/hour rating of the installed system. We fund this tax break by stimulating the economy - solar energy purchases and then the resulting rise in consumer spending as energy prices decrease ESPECIALLY DURING THE BOILING HOT SUMMER.

          This is unfair. Why should someone in the northeast, where there is much less sunlight, have to pay for someone to get cheap electricity in the southwest? In fact, most of the country is not hot and sunny year round. Only the southwest. It's not like you can transmit their energy to people in the northeast. If the state of Arizona or New Mexico wants to do this, great. But it should not be federal.

          Incentives for solar powered electric chargers for gas stations to power up electric cars. Make use of the existing infrastructure to change the infrastructure.

          Corporate tax breaks and subsidies for electric car production. Electric cars have existed - even electric SUV's (the old RAV-4, anyone? Don't tell me I'm wrong, I NOW HAVE ONE - they're just not being made anymore).

          You RAV4 (according to Wikipedia) can do

        • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @07:51AM (#23011130)
          Invest in decent public transport. There should be no _need_ for anyone living within 10-20km of the centre of any reasonably large city (few hundred thousand people and up) to own a car.
    • Nuke is out (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      We did that here in colorado back in late 50's or early 60's. Turned out that residual radiation contaminated the oil.
  • Fungible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by corsec67 (627446) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:22AM (#23008898) Homepage Journal
    Too bad oil is fungible [wikipedia.org], so OPEC can still hurt us monetarily.

    So, how far back does this push "peak oil"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      peak is a load of fucking nonsense anyway. no one but environmental crack pots give it much cred.
  • by RedSteve (690399) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:24AM (#23008914)
    Even if the field is as productive as the summary makes it sound, it should be treated as a reprieve, not as an absolute solution.
    • by I Like Pudding (323363) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:37AM (#23009048)
      WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The automatic shade of "It's not really as good as it seems" is interesting. Anyway, of course it's not an absolute solution, but is there any reason not to use it?

      We still use paper, even though we have digital stuff, too. I don't see why we should make paper insanely expensive simply to push towards going entirely digital (or something like that).

      If there's a huge deposit of oil in US... well, hopefully there is no endangered snail that has to live on that huge plot of land. :) Also, regarding your s

      • by jamesh (87723) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @02:01AM (#23009628)

        but is there any reason not to use it?

        Depends what you mean by 'use'. If you mean 'burn' then yes, there are plenty of reasons, and almost all of them have to do with taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the air, while we are spending billions of dollars trying to figure out how to put the carbon back into the ground again.

        If you mean 'turn into other products like plastic and vaseline' then go for it :)
  • by lpangelrob (714473) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:25AM (#23008932)
    Giant shale fields still make for expensive recovery costs. And will this make make large expanses of the Dakotas like the strip mines of West Virginia?
    • by Itchyeyes (908311) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @01:00AM (#23009222) Homepage
      I think you're confusing oil shale with plain old shale. The Bakken is a traditional shale formation, so recovery costs are not that high. Wells are generally economic as long as the price of oil stay above around $70/bbl. And no this won't make the Dakota's like West Virginia. The reason the Bakken is now economic is because of advances in horizontal drilling. When wells are drilled horizontally they are spaced much farther apart. Currently Bakken wells in North Dakota are drilled about 1 to every square mile. A standard oil well will take up about 3-5 acres of surface area in that square mile.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kimvette (919543)
        Replying to undo moderation. Selected funny rather than informative. :(
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Daimanta (1140543)
          Wow, my parent got a +1 Informative by saying he has mismoderated someone?

          Count me in.

          Posting to undo moderation. Selected Insightful rather than Informative :(
  • At what cost? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:27AM (#23008950) Journal
    TFA says it's a shale deposit. We've known for decades that there's more oil in tar sands and shales in North America than there is in the Saudi fields, but there's the small detail of how much it costs to extract it.

    -jcr
    • Re:At what cost? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SpryGuy (206254) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:46AM (#23009118)
      So what IS the cost, per barrel, of pulling it out of the ground?

      It's literally pennies to pull it out in Kuwait. But Oil is trading for over $100/barrel now. So if the costs are anything up to about $50/barrel to recover, there's still some profit motive left to go after it.

      I've read all sorts of numbers, but I'm wondering at what point it becomes desirable, not just feasable, to go after that oil and start exploiting those fields.

      And then there's the conspiracy theorist in me who wonders if they aren't purposely driving hte price of oil up in order to make exploiting domestic oil that much more realistic, and thus wean us off the foreign teat...

    • Re:At what cost? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Itchyeyes (908311) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @01:01AM (#23009238) Homepage
      A horizontal Bakken well costs about $5 million to drill and about $7000/month to operate. Most of these wells are economic at around $70/bbl.
  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:34AM (#23009012) Homepage Journal
    Dear Canada,

    Concerning this oilfield which lays below the Dakotas and Saskatchewan: if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching? And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake! SLURP I drink it up!

    Bludgeonly yours,
    the USA
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tsotha (720379)
      Yeah, except this is shale, which is a lot more like rock than a milkshake. You're gonna look pretty funny trying to suck that through a straw.
    • Re:Dear Canada, (Score:4, Informative)

      by Itchyeyes (908311) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @01:03AM (#23009244) Homepage
      The process described in "There Will be Blood" has long since been outlawed. Oil fields are carefully regulated to ensure that wells are properly spaced and not draining neighboring owner's reserves.
    • by big_paul76 (1123489) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @03:17AM (#23010010)
      Dear USA:
            That may be true, but thanks to the Alberta oil boom of late, we are the current leading edge of new tech for recovery of non-standard types of oil. If you want to have a race to see who can get it out first, we'll even give you a 2-year head start, just to make it sporting.

      Yes, yes, we all know you could invade us without breaking a sweat, but can you live without the oil coming in from Alberta? How about the electricity that comes from James Bay Hyrdo? If you wanna see what life would be like without it, imagine everything east of Chicago living under a blackout. Yes, you have a great big expensive army, but I don't think you have enough troops to protect 2000 miles of power lines from being dynamited.

      Oh, yeah, and we're a nuclear 'threshold' country, so we could fire up a nuke and a delivery vehicle that could hit Washington in 2 or 3 years max. So draw when ready, pardner.

      Sincerely,
      The Dominion of Canada.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:34AM (#23009014)
    We got to finish off the Arab oil first, to reduce their political influence in the world.
  • More info needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anna Merikin (529843) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:34AM (#23009020) Journal

    Last I heard -- a long, long time ago -- extraction of shale oil deposits required abundant water, as the technology then used steam to liquify the oil and release it from the shale.

    Last I heard, there was not abundant water in the area of the deposits. If a /. reader with recent expertise in the extraction of oil from shale would post a reply on the most recent technologies and the free or cheap water requirement, I would be, as they say in the Western Movies, "beholden."

    Otherwise, like those in California's Central Valley, the extent and practical worth of such deposits is debatable.

    Of course, we can hope.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Synopsis: the perimeter around a plot of "oil shale land" is deep drilled, the holes are filled with water, and then frozen, to form a vertical ice dam surrounding the plot.

      The center area is also drilled, and the deep rock there is then heated over the course of a year or two. At some point the hydrocarbons literally boil up to the surface and can be recovered (the land is drilled, but not mined). The ice dam keeps the hydrocarbons from contaminating the ground water.

      Shell has been working on this for
  • by epp_b (944299) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:51AM (#23009152)
    Absolutely nothing!
  • Oil Dependance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:52AM (#23009164)
    This is inaccurate:

    "Such a reserve would go a long way toward securing US energy independence."

    This is correct:

    "Such a reserve would go a long way toward securing US energy dependency on oil."
  • by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:54AM (#23009176) Homepage

    ... Canada has just begun to beef up the military defenses on its long southern border.

  • by Thagg (9904) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:59AM (#23009218) Journal
    It has been known for decades that there is a tremendous amount of oil shale and tar sands in this area. The challenge, and it is a significant challenge, is to extract the oil from these deposits in a way that isn't an environmental catastrophe of epic proportions. As is often the case, the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] is a great introduction to the topic.

    Extracting oil from oil shale in the most obvious way involves heating it (probably with oil, but you do get more out than you put in, usually). So, you scoop it out of the massive open-pit mine, heat it, get the oil out, and then dispose of the remaining rock. Paradoxically, you end up changing the nature of the rock, so that it takes up more space than it originally did -- so even if you put all the tailings back into where it was mined, you'd end up with a new set of mountains. The net energy you end up with after processing the oil shale isn't a lot, and ridiculous amounts of water are necessary in the process (water the mountain west just doesn't have.)

    It should be noted that the Canadians are talking about building nuclear plants in their tar sands regions to supply the energy necessary to liberate the oil from the tar sands, in sort of a nuclear->oil scheme.

    According to the Wikipedia article, there have been oil shale processing programs in the past, some on a fairly large scale. They have fallen by the wayside as conventional oil has been so inexpensive.

    I believe that the environmental impact of extracting oil from oil shale on the scale required to keep the world running on oil as it is today would have a devastating environmental impact. Probably not as bad as a nuclear war fought over the remaining conventional oil resources...probably.

  • by GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @04:10AM (#23010274)
    How exactly does oil in Saskatchewan increase US reserves?

    Last I checked, you americans were talking about shredding NAFTA ... which means giving up our tasty tasty oil. You don't think we'll let you have cheap oil in any re-negotiated NAFTA do you?

    What will it be? Cheap oil from your northern friends, or will you finally retrain the people who's manufacturing jobs went to Mexico and stop blaming Canada for it?
  • by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @04:17AM (#23010296)
    http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=7534c4de-0c21-4653-a06b-112bc96b2708&k=6345 [canada.com]

    And it looks like some ppl may have a way to get at it now.

    400 billion barrels to be exact.

    http://www.deepwater.com/fw/main/Discoverer_Enterprise-141.html [deepwater.com]
  • Naive (Score:4, Interesting)

    by immcintosh (1089551) <slashdot@ianmcint o s h .org> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:33PM (#23014190) Homepage
    It's increasingly pissing me off the degree of naivete that everybody approaches the oil situation these days. Oooh, 1 billion barrels, that's a WHOLE LOT, right? Yeah, might want to consider that the U.S. alone uses over 20 million barrels a day. That's a whole whopping 50 days out of that one billion barrels. Tell me again about this energy independence nonsense? Not as long as we're depending on crude oil for it friends. Even assuming that's a HUNDRED billion barrels in there that can actually be extracted (and I'm going to say I kinda doubt it), that's a bit over ten years at current rates of consumption, less if you consider growth. Still not even approaching anything resembling meaningful independence.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

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