makemoneynowThe Energy Department's estimate of "proved reserves" of shale oil—those that can be recovered economically today—is only about ten billion barrels. That's about a sixth of technically recoverable reserves, and less than a year and a half's worth of current consumption. Proved reserves include all currently known U.S. oil shale resources-North Dakota Bakken, Texas Eagle Ford, Colorado and Nebraska Niobrara, Texas Barnett, and others.
In contrast, the proved reserves from just three Middle East nations—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates—total more than 460 billion barrels. That's 46 times U.S. shale oil reserves, and more than 12 times the total U.S. oil reserves.
Those estimates help explain why the IEA projects the Middle East as "the major source of future supply growth," long after the U.S. shale oil boom has run its course. Price is important, but whether oil exists at all is even more so.