Seismic reflections: Enormous North American potential

Published on 30 September 2011

A recent National Petroleum Council study on behalf of the US Department of Energy points to the enormous potential of North America’s hydrocarbon resources. The study highlights the now well understood scale of the continent’s natural gas resources in the wake of shale gas development and draws attention to the potential for a substantial boost in oil production. A key conclusion is that North American oil production could conceivably reach 22.5mmb/d by 2035. This is not only twice current levels but exceeds 2010 consumption of 21.4mmb/d. However, the achievement of the production indicated assumes a benign environment in terms of access to reserves and regulation. In other words, production is more a question of politics than the availability of reserves or technology.

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