Not enough recoverable crude oil to supply U.S. for 400 years

A copy-and-paste viral chain message falsely claims that there is enough recoverable crude oil in the US to meet future demand for more than 400 years.

President Joe Biden recently urged US oil refineries to produce more gasoline and diesel, saying their profits have tripled in times of war between Russia and Ukraine as many Americans grapple with record-high prices at the pump. On June 21, the average gas price in the US was nearly $5 a gallon, according to AAA data.

A copy-and-paste chain message claiming to tell the “truth about gas prices” quickly went viral on Facebook and Twitter Mid-June. VERIFY viewer Lauren and several others asked VERIFY if the following claim contained in the chain message was actually true:

“There is enough recoverable crude oil in the continental US to meet current and projected future demand for more than 400 years, and that’s just the oil that we know of. It does not take future discoveries into account. That’s a fact…”

THE QUESTION

Is there enough recoverable crude oil in the US to power the country for 400 years?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

That's wrong.

No, there is not enough recoverable crude oil in the US to power the country for 400 years.

WHAT WE FOUND

The term “technically recoverable” according to the US Geological Survey (USGS) refers to the amount of oil and/or gas that is in the ground and can be produced domestically using currently available technology and industry practices without regard to cost.

The USGS estimates that there are 373.1 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude oil reserves in the United States. That number is equivalent to all the oil the US could use if it pulled every drop out of the ground. A US Energy Information Administration (EIA) spokesman said the USGS estimate is not enough recoverable crude oil to power the US for the next 400 years.

Andrew Lipow, a Houston-based oil and gas expert, agrees.

“Based on what we know, the answer is clearly wrong,” he said.

EIA data shows that in 2021 the US consumed an average of about 19.78 million barrels of oil per day, or about 7.22 billion barrels of oil in total. Based on current crude oil consumption, the estimated 373.1 billion barrels of technically recoverable reserves “would last approximately 50 years,” the EIA spokesman told VERIFY.

If the US were to consume nearly 7.22 billion barrels of oil per year over the next 400 years, the country would need more than 2.9 trillion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserves – far more than the 373.1 billion barrels it currently has.

“Of course, there are many other factors that one could consider, such as how oil consumption would change over the next 400 years, how technology for oil production will evolve, how USGS estimates might change, and whether an oil company that oil would make a profit from extraction, etc.,” said the EIA spokesman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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https://www.king5.com/article/news/verify/gas-prices-verify/crude-oil-united-states-400-years-chain-message-claim-fact-check/536-2ad073b2-fe76-477b-a5a7-c2975e368416 Not enough recoverable crude oil to supply U.S. for 400 years

Alley Einstein

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