US energy boom leadership jeopardized, larger shale oilfields found

Russia, Algeria and Argentina hold larger shale oilfields than any of the current producing ones in the United States, jeopardizing the country’s chances to become the world’s top oil producer by 2017, a report released Tuesday by global information company IHS reveals.

The good news is the shale oil boom that has led to revival in US production could be replicated internationally. According to HIS, global shale formations potentially hold seven times the amount of technically recoverable oil located in the US and Canada together.

The report identifies 148 global shale plays that may have 300 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, particularly in the Muerta of Argentina, the Bazhenov shale of Siberia and the Silurian shale of North Africa.

However, the research also shows that costs for extracting the so-called “tight oil” reserves, held in shales and hard-to-access deposits, are significantly higher outside the US. This means they would need a higher oil price to be commercially viable.

The US is expected to produce 7.3 million barrels per day this year, up from 6.4 million in 2012, according to data published by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

That obviously impacts directly on the amount of crude the country is buying, said the agency, which is the developed world’s most respected energy forecaster.

Imports totalled about 7.7 million barrels per day in the month of February, down 1.2 million barrels per day from the same time last year.

US oil demand for 2012 was 18.56 million barrels per day, down 2% from the year earlier and its lowest annual level since 1996, according to the EIA. Oil demand fell every month last year, except for May.

Currently, Americans import close to 10 million barrels of crude per day and Canadian oil accounts for 30% of that total.