Why Are You Paying So Much For Gas?

Posted on February 16, 2010

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DRILL BIT: The answer is quite simple, or just under your nose. In fact, depending on which state you live in, the answer could be just outside of your backyard.

Study: Fed Lands Hold Oil and Gas Bonanza

The United States has more oil and gas reserves on federally owned lands than previously thought. Federal acreage onshore and offshore holds more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (about 75 years worth of current domestic consumption) and 229 billion barrels of oil (about 50 years worth).

So says a study released Monday by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Data gathering and number crunching for the two-year study was done by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a big government contractor, with input from academics and oil companies like Shell, BP, Marathon Energy.

Previous government estimates, using the same methodology, identified 1750 tcf of gas and 186 billion barrels of oil. The increase is due largely to improvements in finding and recovering oil and gas. Any way you look at it, those reserves are more than those controlled by most OPEC nations.

What's more, the report states that some 285 trillion cubic feet of gas and 46 billion barrels of oil are on certain federal lands still off limits to oil and gas drilling (such as more than 6 billion barrels in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge). Congress in 2008 removed restrictions on some promising areas, like the offshore Outer Continental Shelf, but the Department of Interior hasn't yet determined whether to lease sections of the OCS to development.

This might spur action. The report states that continuing to keep promising lands off limits will mean foregoing $2.36 trillion in cumulative gross domestic product between now and 2030.

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