If there is so much oil in the US, why are we sifting Canadian sand and pulverizing rock to get it?

If there is so much oil in the US, why are we sifting Canadian sand (that’s natural gas, right? Is there not a glut in the market right now?) and pulverizing rock (fracking) to get it?

You aren’t. We are. :wink:

The oil sands in Canada are a source of heavy crude oil - the stuff you get gasoline from eventually - not natural gas. It’s estimated that the amount of oil you can get out of the oil sands is second only to the size of the oil sources in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know where American oil reserves rank, but there is a lot of the stuff up here and in this world, oil=money.

I’m not sure which oil deposits you’re referring to, but we generally do tap all the resources we can in the US. If we don’t, it’s for a number of reasons, including cost of recovery (it can be cheaper simply to deal with tar sands), access (no more drilling off the beaches of LA), environmental concerns, and a number of other factors.

Well, from the wiki on oil reserves, it would appear that:

Canada has 175x10^9 barrels of oil on reserve, and produces 2,700,000 barrels a day. 178 years of reserve life at that production rate.

US has 19x10^9 barrels of oil on reserve, and produces 5,500,000 barrels a day. 10 years of reserve life at that production rate.

That is why us Canadian’s are sifting sand, and probably also why the US is getting more into the fracking business as the wells run dry.

There isn’t so much oil in the US any more, and it can’t all be extracted at once anyway. Glad I could help.

(It’s also worth noting that Canada is a desolate wasteland, whereas people actually live in the US.)

Sure there is. Sadly it’s locked in shale deposits which are hard (and more importantly expensive) to exploit. Since economics is in play we use cheaper and more accessible sources. Just like 10 years ago no one needed to really exploit Canadian sources on a large scale (despite the fact that we’ve known about them for some time), today there is no real need to develop the technology or spend the large amount of capital needed to heavily exploit shale deposits to replace heavy crude imports.

Sorry, no cite, but I seem to recall estimates on potential reserves of shale oil deposits in the US rivaling those in the ME (of course, no way to estimate the realistic amount of exploitable reserves since the technology to exploit it on a large scale is still in development…and the price of crude still to low to make it feasible).


U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves - US Department of Energy Report, 2009. The page reports the next update will be April 2012.


Then what’s the point of “Drill, baby, drill”?
Oh, looks like Duckster and others answered the question.

Oil shale - doesn’t contain oil, but a oil precursor called kerogen.

Basically a lot more processing before you can call it oil. I’m thinking it won’t be economically feasible to get oil from it until much of the oil sands are gone from Canada and Venezuela. Could be tech comes along to prove me wrong - but as decades tick by it’ll have to also compete with better solar, fission, wind, fusion?, etc. These days you can buy a Volt and power it from a coal plant. Probably will always makes more sense both economically and environmentally than using oil shale.

… Providing you can find a Chevy dealer willing to sell you one.


We’re just biding our time before we invade.

The point is that we are talking about billions of dollars in resources. That equals taxes, jobs, capital…all that sort of stuff. I doubt most of the people crying ‘Drill, baby, drill’ REALLY think that it will make us energy independent (well, perhaps some of the denser and more brain dead ones do). It won’t. But it WILL inject billions into our economy and 10’s of thousands of jobs, plus taxes taxes taxes. THAT’S the point.

Meanwhile, why shouldn’t we buy oil from Canada if the price is right?


the tar sands in canada are stripmined which is starting to leave some big ugly holes in the boreal forest. oil is being extracted from shale in texas, it becomes profitable with crude near 100$$$ a barrel, i know because i inherited mineral rights on three hundred acres in reeves county. i feel bad about fracking but that royalty check takes the sting out of it…we are humans, therefore we will burn every last drop, fume, and lump of carbon we can grub out of the dirt.

But we’re not sifting Canadian sands to get American oil.

The way I figure it, we mean to use everyone else’s oil FIRST.

And when you start producing oil from the Green River Formation, I expect the people shitting all over Alberta to start shitting all over that development just as hard.

Hey, that’s just about where the Keystone Pipeline was supposed to go before President Obama and the US Senate kiboshed it. Gee, I sure hope you guys don’t need a pipeline there at some point and not have one available!

Since Canada is the number one importer of oil to the US, you could argue that we kind of are. :slight_smile: