Okay, okay, okay – it's not as bad as that headline says it is. First of all, even if we did only have 53.3 years of oil left, it'd represent a 1.1-percent improvement over last year's estimate, to 1.69 trillion barrels of oil left. But more importantly, we probably have a hell of a lot more oil left than that. Of course, a lot of it comes from shale, which means fracking, which isn't exactly great for the environment. So, it's not all roses here.

According to BP, the United States has 44.2 billion barrels in reserve, which is itself a 26-percent increase over previous estimates. As the years go on, though, that figure is still likely to increase, thanks to technologies like horizontal drilling that could unlock an additional 75 billion barrels of oil and natural gas from shale formations in the Permian Basin of west Texas, according USA Today, which cited estimates by Pioneer Natural Resources. The Permian Basin is the largest of three major shale oil operations, along with Bakken and Eagle Ford.

What's interesting, though, is that there's still a lot of shale oil we don't know about. Another resource company, EOG Resources, has already set up four horizontal rigs in the Rockies and estimates that there's even more black gold in them there hills. The other big play could be in the Gulf Coast.

Regardless of where the oil ends up, it's a fair bet that we have more than 53.3 years of oil left. While that's good news, here's hoping it doesn't halt the march towards fuel efficiency we've been seeing over the past several years.


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  • 231 Comments
      Gorgenapper
      • 6 Months Ago
      "We're sorry, there is only 53 years of oil left. We're deeply sorry." *pets a puppy* "Sawwwwry."
      Scooter
      • 6 Months Ago
      Looks like the community is split. All I want to say is, "Can anyone here name anything immortal/undying/infinitely plentiful?". Then of course there will be the doubters who say...not in my life time. Since the master is out we servants just better hope we're ready for the masters return.
      cpmanx
      • 6 Months Ago
      Just to clarify, again: The number in the headline is proven reserves divided by current rate of usage. It is useful to oil companies from a planning point of view, but it should not be taken as a prediction of "when the oil will run out." Technology & exploration keep changing the amount of recoverable oil, while changes in the usage rate will obviously change the projections of how long that amount will last. If oil prices go up, more reserves become economically viable and demand tends to go down, and the market rebalances. As many other people have noted in the comments below, oil supplies won't simply run out one day. What will happen, broadly speaking, is that oil prices will go up and economic forces will make other energy sources more appealing. But short-term disruptions (embargoes, war, etc) can cause all kinds of supply and price shocks along the way.
      AngeloD
      • 6 Months Ago
      Auto Blog can't seem to get enough of pushing its faith-based agenda. If we're not being subjected to the religious mythology of anthropogenic global warming, it's the faith-based belief in the "dangers" of fracking. All without a shred of any credible science to back it up. Fracking has been in use for about 90 years in the US with no significant harm. No ground water contamination with gas or fracking chemicals, none. Gasland, the movie funded by Gulf oil interests and from which Auto Blog seems to get most of its info, has been proven a complete fraud. Give the enviro-religion mumbo-jumbo a rest guys.
      RC
      • 6 Months Ago
      The Sun can't set soon enough on the Oil Industry and all of its fumes.
        Ray Blackburn
        • 6 Months Ago
        @RC
        Doing all my driving in a EV, obviously I still use oil because I eat groceries and buy clothing among other things. It is really more akin to going on a diet, you don't stop eating, you just eat less and more selectively.
        Stephen
        • 6 Months Ago
        @RC
        When you stop using all the electric motors that use "PLASTIC" to coat wires, anything that has a plastic case, any chemical product that uses a petroleum by-product... that's when I'll take your silly opinions seriously. There is a Law of Unintended Consequences that is triggered all the time. (and our politicians are some of the best at it)
        floorman56
        • 6 Months Ago
        @RC
        Yea because of all the new EV farm tractors and combines on one will starve when we run out of oil
      • 6 Months Ago
      Do you like water? Each fracking well uses 1.6 million gallons that you will never (with current technology) be able to drink again. Do you like breathing? We're still spewing carbon into the atmosphere at a rate that is unsustainable and if not severely reversed will see a 25 foot sea level rise in our lifetime. As usual the argument gets lost in the article stat and is somehow considered important. It's not. Switching to other, saner fuel sources is the important point
        yyz
        • 6 Months Ago
        25'! Excellent! I'll finally have beach front property here in PA.
        Stephen
        • 6 Months Ago
        And the sky is falling!!!! Run around like a chicken!!! Get real, more CO2 is released by volcanic eruptions that humans have release in the last several hundred years. Let's make a movie and demonstrate against volcanos or states that have them. More CO2 means more plant growth, they love the stuff.
          ElectricAvenue
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Stephen
          The only correct thing you said, Stephen, is that more CO2 means more plant growth. That is, where there are still plants. One of the effects of warming will be desertification of large regions. The volcanic eruption nonsense has been debunked a gagillion times. Somehow people believe they have thought of something that none of the climate scientists in the world have thought of. Try reading what the scientific literature actually says before spouting your verbal pollution.
      FordGo
      • 6 Months Ago
      At what population level? 8 Billion, 9 Billion? Austin TX just bought solar energy at 5 cent per kWh, the party's over for ICE engines anyway. Fracking wells pollute 50% of the ground water they're located in. Fracking wells deplete at a much faster rate then traditional wells. The party's over, and good riddance.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 6 Months Ago
      It would last a LOY longer if we didn't have EPA holding us back and we didn't have pseudoscientific liberal groups warning us about the so called evils of tracking, each of which has been debunked by others.
        Ele Truk
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        So you are saying you don't like breathable air and drinkable water? THAT is what EPA does for us. You are probably too young to remember when L.A. and New York had AIr like Beijing does now. THAT is what EPA does. It doesn't hold us back, it keeps us alive, literally.
        korblalak
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Debunked? How exactly are rising sea levels debunked? you take idiocy up a notch.
          cpmanx
          • 6 Months Ago
          @korblalak
          Normally I resist the bait, but this is such an uninformed comment I have to reply: Tide gauges around the worlds and multiple satellites all show global sea level rising. It is evident all around the world. People managing oceanfront property know all about it. There are a hundred sources I could point you to, but this one will do: http://www.goes-r.gov/education/comet/broadcastmet/climate/media/graphics/sl_noib_global_sm.gif
          Stephen
          • 6 Months Ago
          @korblalak
          Outside of Hollywood... where have the sea levels risen? You need to back up your inflamatory statements if you want reasoning adults to take them seriously. Until then you can just run around yelling "the sky is falling" while we all ignore you and get on with life.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 6 Months Ago
          @korblalak
          OMG, Stephen, this is very telling, you said it. "Just that there was a small change in an extremely small amount of time." Open your eye man!
        FuelToTheFire
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        LOT
      danfred311
      • 6 Months Ago
      Brandon, you are ignorant. The more oil left the worse it is. Not that you'll understand.
      Koenigsegg
      • 6 Months Ago
      Haha... and how exactly are we gonna drive exotic cars when its gone? Anyone?!!! All good things come to an end. Except what they pollute isnt good at all. All you really smart people that talk **** about electric cars for some strange reason got to hop aboard sooner or later... you can blatantly hate a little while longer but eventually you wont be able to drive your ICE car (which sucks compared to electric) No gas car captures my attention, all of them are lame and repetitive and use gas. Have to switch to renewables people. Use a tank of gas, that gas is gone forever. Simple to realize, but everyone takes it for granted just like anything you regularly do and sadly nothing will be done about it until its too late, except Elon with Tesla.
        Hek!
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        We can always convert them to run on a renewable fuel, like ethanol. (=
          Hek!
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Hek!
          Doesn't have to be our food supply. We can recycle all the sawdust, woodchips & leftovers of the forestry industry. We will always need wood and there will always be tonnes of it that we can't use.
          eatworksleepdie
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Hek!
          We don't need to use ethanol as a "renewable" fuel source. There's technology out there already to make oil from algae. The infrastructure is already in place. All the oil companies would have to do is build a building next to their existing refineries to grow the algae, then move it over to the existing infrastructure for refinement. Problem is capitalism. With big oil companies reporting record profits, why change it now when there's all this money to be had. Do a search for "Making oil from algae" .. Not to mention HHO technologies. (basically running your car on water) It's the separation of Hydrogen and oxygen using H2O. There's tons of DIY people out there making their cars run on a hybrid water/gas mixture right now. HHO could be exploited to work and fit into our infrastructure too.
      Zoom
      • 6 Months Ago
      Did BP also estimate how much burning it will increase the ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, how many additional degrees the average global temperature will increase and how much sea level will rise?
        what
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Zoom
        Naw, the consequences of the fossil fuel industry's reckless extraction policies are for regular people to worry about. BP, et al., are too busy counting their record profits and subsidies.
      Ryan
      • 6 Months Ago
      And what will the world look like in 53 years if we use all of that oil. The baby boomers will be dead and won't care. They just want their money now and to create family dynasties. Politics will be all screwed up since big oil is buying off politicians. Local (non-oil places) economies will be devastated because we are sending millions of dollars each year out of the local economy and it isn't coming back. And the fresh water and environmental impacts of getting that much oil out of the ground won't be trivial. And for all "Energy Independent"/"Drill Baby Drill" guys out there. 44.2 billion divided by 17 million(low estimate) used by the US every day is only 7 years. Then what happens? The oil guys will retire will billions of dollars and live the good life while some of us are stuck. Unless you break the addiction...
        Stephen
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Civilization as we know it would collapse. Petroleum is used in way more than just fuel.
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Stephen
          That my friend, is the risk that people who decry Peak Oil are ignoring. If the world prepares for Peak Oil but the world's creamy nougat center of oil keeps the stuff flowing forever them some amout of money will have been wasted. If we try to continue business as usual (little or no prepration for Peak Oil) and it happens "Civilization as we know it would collapse". Take your pick.
        Jason
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Your concern shouldn't limited to the U.S., but rather the countries rapidly industrializing with BILLIONS of people (China, India). That's where oil is going, and the U.S. will happily export the excess we produce.
          Ryan
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Jason
          We aren't producing an excess. We use too much here for that to ever happen unless refineries double and drilling doubles... Which won't happen anytime soon. We will see what happens in
          ElectricAvenue
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Jason
          Jason: what dream world do you live in? The U.S. has been a net importer of oil for decades. That hasn't changed. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MTTNTUS2&f=M Current net imports: 5.6 million barrels per day.
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