The more that conservationists and politicians talk about fossil energy alternatives, the more oil and coal the nation’s energy companies find. The discoveries will not go on forever, but the U.S. is probably more energy independent than many analysts predict.
Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC) reports that it found new deposits, based on its assessment of its Horizontal Niobrara and Codell drilling program in the Wattenberg field (Wattenberg HZ) of northeastern Colorado. The firm said, “Based upon the early results of Anadarko’s program in the Wattenberg field, we are confident the liquids-rich Horizontal Niobrara and Codell opportunity provides a net resource potential of 500 million to 1.5 billion BOE (barrels of oil equivalent); and it’s located right in the heart of one of our existing core areas.” The discovery is among the largest in recent history.
The Anadarko find can be added to the 700 million barrels of deposits discovered off the Louisiana coast by Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) this past summer. “This is one of the largest discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico in the last decade,” the company said. Several other discoveries in the Gulf have demonstrated that the fields there will yield more oil than expected. The Obama administration said it will open more areas offshore to exploration. It has done so based on the expectation that this will lead to the discovery of more large deposits.
The most impressive addition to the amount of oil and natural gas is the promise of shale oil deposits. It is estimated that the four largest shale fields in the world are in the U.S.: the Green River Formation, the Phosphoria Formation, the Eastern Devonian and the Heath Formation. It is impossible to predict exactly has much these fields will yield. The technology to make the production of shale oil economically feasible has only been put in place recently. The age of the success of shale has just begun.
The U.S. probably will never be totally energy independent, maybe never even close. The success of solar, wind and geothermal alternatives has been limited. That could change and alter the balance of energy creation in America. In the meantime, more and more oil is being discovered.
Douglas A. McIntyre