The Bounty of Fracking
By Staff News & Analysis - May 03, 2013

The U.S. Has Much, Much More Gas and Oil Than We Thought … The United States has double the amount of oil and three times the amount of natural gas than previously thought, stored deep under the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, according to new data the Obama administration released Tuesday. – National Review

Dominant Social Theme: There is no oil. It's all been used up.

Free-Market Analysis: We don't believe for a minute that the oil and gas industry suddenly "discovered" fracking, etc. From what we can tell, these technologies have been around a long time.

So why have the powers-that-be begun to cautiously indicate the true scale of oil and gas production in the US and elsewhere? We figure it could be a number of reasons.

For one thing, the alternative energy movement may really be taking off, portions of it anyway, and reemphasizing traditional sources of power and their viability may temper the use of alternative energy.

Then there is perhaps a motive based on the lousy state of Western economies. We've often indicated that economies are manipulated for a variety of purposes by dimly-discernable controlling forces, but those who seek to depress Western economies while raising up the BRICs may have a delicate path to walk.

One doesn't want to reduce economies to shambles without offering some intermittent relief. More copious energy supplies may provide an ameliorative product that will keep Western economies functioning even in the middle of a Great Recession.

A third potential scenario is one in which those producing this good news will eventually reverse course, leaving the energy industry in even worse shape than it is now.

This last scenario seems a bit far-fetched to us. From our point of view, a decision has been made to offer long-suffering consumers a limited hangout. Yes, there is more oil and gas, especially in the US, than has been admitted.

In announcing the new data in a conference call, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also said the administration will release within weeks draft rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing, technology that has come under scrutiny for its environmental impact but that is essential to developing all of this energy.

"These world-class formations contain even more energy-resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign sources of oil," Jewell said in a statement.

The formations, called Bakken and Three Forks, span much of western North Dakota, the northern tip of South Dakota and the northeastern tip of Montana. The last time the United States Geological Survey assessed this area for its oil and gas reserves was in 2008. But that assessment did not include the Three Forks formation, which explains the substantial increase in the estimates. USGS estimates that these two formations together hold 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered—but technically recoverable—oil and 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The estimates were requested by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., in early 2011. "This is clearly great news for North Dakota and great news for the nation," Hoeven said in a statement. "It will further serve to enhance our state's role as an energy powerhouse for the nation."

The energy boom's impact on North Dakota's economy is undeniable. The state has the lowest unemployment in the country, at 3.3 percent.

These estimates don't necessarily represent oil and gas resources that could be immediately developed or are even recoverable right now. Many factors must align to compel companies to access energy resources, including prices and environmental regulations.

Nonetheless, the data add more hard evidence of America's energy boom, which was largely unimaginable just seven years ago. The estimates also underline the opportunities, including economic benefits and energy security, and the challenges, especially President Obama's commitment to tackle climate change, that come with a major fossil-fuel boom.

We take issue with a number of statements in this excerpt … especially the idea that all of this is "just discovered." Heck, we've been banging the proverbial drum against Peak Oil for about a decade now. We've always stated – editorially – that Peak Oil was just another scarcity meme, a manipulation.

If we could see that, so could the energy industry. You know … it is all about control, and keeping people scared as regards the impermanence of their lifestyle – and guilty about living in relative comfort.

Like food, like water – like the air we breathe – energy has been subject to a full scale manipulation by the powers-that-be … and the energy industry as well. From the moment the industry went out of its way to label oil a "fossil fuel" (it's probably abiotic), the manipulation has been pursued full force.

If it has been decided that the supply of oil is truly to be loosened (and removed from the faux-clutches of Middle Eastern sheiks) then this has tremendous import for Western industry and, of course, for Western investment, as well.

After Thoughts

This is one meme – and its results – that bears watching.