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The World Has 53.3 Years of Oil Left


Photo credit: BP.

BP (NYSE: BP  )  has provided an intriguing update to its global oil reserves estimate in the company's latest yearly review of energy statistics. BP raised its reserve estimate by 1.1% to 1,687.9 billion barrels, which is enough oil to last the world 53.3 years at the current production rates. However, there's likely a lot more oil left in the tank beyond what BP sees today.

America's energy boom surges
A good portion of the growth in global oil reserves in BP's report comes from the United States. According to BP, the U.S. has 44.2 billion barrels of oil reserves, which is 26% higher than it previously thought. It's also quite a bit more optimistic than the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which recently increased its estimate to 33.4 billion barrels of reserves, or 15% more than previously thought. 

The overall cause for that surge in oil reserves is that America's shale oil plays -- the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin -- are now being unlocked through horizontal drilling technology.

Despite the big boost in reserves over the past year, there appears to be much more oil potential in each shale play, with the Permian Basin really standing out.

Source: Pioneer Natural Resources Investor Presentation. 

As that slide points out, Pioneer Natural Resources  (NYSE: PXD  )  now estimates the Spraberry/Wolfcamp shale formations in the Permian Basin contain 75 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas. That number is actually a major upward revision from last year when Pioneer estimated the two formations held 50 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas.

These Permian Basin plays now make the Eagle Ford and Bakken shales look small in comparison. Yet the recoverable reserve estimates of both of those shale plays also continue to grow. In the four years since EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG  ) began developing the Eagle Ford shale it has drastically revised its reserve estimates. The company now believes it will recover 3.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent on its land position, which is up from less than 1 billion barrels in 2010. New technologies and techniques, including closer spacing of wells, are providing a big boost to future reserve estimates.

Source: EOG Resources Investor Presentation (link opens a PDF).

Next up for America
As those three plays do all the current heavy lifting to grow reserves, new oil plays continue to emerge. The two most promising appear to be the Tuscaloosa Marine shale in the Gulf Coast region and several shale plays in the Rockies. EOG Resources this year unveiled four new horizontal oil discoveries in the Rockies, proving yet again that America's energy boom is just getting started.

EOG Resources estimates that it will ultimately recover about 400 million barrels of oil equivalent as it develops its acreage in the Rockies. However, keeping in mind the company's nearly fourfold boost to its estimated recovery figure in the Eagle Ford shale, it's likely there is a lot more upside in the Rockies as EOG Resources and others develop the oil rich shales in the region.

Investor takeaway
While the world as BP sees it might just hold 53.3 years' worth of oil, that certainly does not mean we'll run out of oil anytime soon. New shale plays continue to be discovered in the U.S., which should fuel substantial gains in reserves over the next decade. There's plenty of oil still left in the world's tank thanks to the development of America's shale resources. 

OPEC is absolutely terrified of this game changer
Despite all of these recent shale discoveries, OPEC isn't all that worried. It has enough on its hands these days, including a game-changing energy technology that could end our addition to its oil. You can learn all about it in an exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report where we reveal the company we're calling OPEC's Worst Nightmare. Just click HERE to uncover the name of this industry-leading stock.


Read/Post Comments (33) | Recommend This Article (50)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 2:06 PM, royboss wrote:

    So no peak oil in sight ?

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 2:19 PM, BigFED wrote:

    "enough oil to last the world 53.3 years at the current production rates."

    And when CONSUMPTION RATES go up faster than production rates????

    As one of my old (and probably now decreased college instructors pointed out, "there are just finite amounts of fossil fuels of all kinds." The planet "Earth" will end in some 5-6 billion years. Man need not worry for we will long be extinct, probably within the next few thousand years. And THAT is the OPTIMISTIC prediction!!!! We will find some dumb azzed way to short cut our species!!! This will be known as the "Big Ooops" or the "Big Oh-oh"!!!

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 2:36 PM, JJ82 wrote:

    in other words America dies in 50ish years.

    with "drill baby drill" coming from the same people making sure alternative energy never grows here will immediately fall back into the dark ages, providing the wars over the last bits of oil doesn't kill us all.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 2:59 PM, tigerade wrote:

    And when the oil wells dry up, so does our economic wealth here in America. That is of course unless we move towards other forms of transportation (mass transit, electric vehicles, etc). I really wish Republicans would stop beating us up every time we try to move away from oil. We need to diversify, if we stay dependent on oil, then we'll crash when we don't have what we need.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 3:47 PM, wgardella wrote:

    add new technologies and new discoveries. Probably extend that number up to 100 years +.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 4:39 PM, redmanrt wrote:

    "The World Has 53.3 Years of Oil Left"

    I have it on best authority that the world has 53.4 years of oil left.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 7:14 PM, emailnodata wrote:

    53 year...and people think that's a good thing?

    Tell you what...we need to seriously ramp up solar.

    53 years is basically nothing.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 7:39 PM, Bobz74 wrote:

    We should totally stop using any kind of oil. We don't need it. Start growing food in your back yard. Quit driving, quit using molded metals, stones work fine. Drink water from the river. The native Americans did it and they were happy. Heck, some of them even lived to be over forty years old. Or we could invent an energy source that uses water as a fuel. There's plenty of water. Or we could use water slides to travel. water tubes to transport people. or, or, ….. or……awwww never mind, we're doomed.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 8:14 PM, bluesscout wrote:

    Factoring in population growth it's more like .....less than 30 years

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 8:15 PM, bluesscout wrote:

    And as the pop grows the demand inc......more like 30yrs

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 8:52 PM, CALNNC wrote:

    Blind belief that oil is a 'fossil fuel' is on par with belief in man made global warming. Evidence suggests that crude pumped from the ground is a natural occurring element within the earth that is not understood. One of the theories main proponents died mysteriously over 25 year ago while proving the existence of a pre-crude state of of this resource, forming from the bottom up, not the top down. There is enough incomplete information about, that should warrant deeper research to find out if this is truth or fiction, but I always wondered why a preponderance of plant and animal life seemed to die right over the Arabian desert,

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 8:58 PM, dadx wrote:

    uh-huh, last time i heard that we were going to run out of oil, it was the early seventies. we had enough to last untill the end of the century or so.

    this is just more ammo for the gloom and doom-sayers

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 9:09 PM, Wylie123 wrote:

    Heard the same prediction in the late 50s.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 10:31 PM, Tyeward wrote:

    Not buying that claim. They are just wording in a way that stirs the pot in their favor concerning profit. Lot´s of untapped areas of the world where oil is abundant. As far as fuel is concerned you can use coal to refine for fuel as well. It´s more CO2 intensive though. What we need to start doing is we need to start weening ourselves off of fossil fuels and move in the direction of being more responsible stewards of the planet.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 11:41 PM, Oilbadger wrote:

    We will never run out of oil and here's why. BLUE PETROLEUM. Engineers and scientists in France have found a way to extract oil from a seaweed that takes thousands of years to make from the weed itself but have found a way to speed up the process to a daily basis. They have been stopped by big oil companies from trying to patent their research and development of this process. Jeez, I wonder why?! Can you imagine no more drilling and gas prices dropping to less than $2 a gallon or less? We will never run out of oil because of this process. We just have to find a way to get big oil companies out of the way of progress. Can you imagine all the dollars pumped back into the economy if gas was cheaper? Plus we could pay down our debt to China and Russia!

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 12:04 AM, Oilbadger wrote:

    We will never run out of oil and here's why. BLUE PETROLEUM. The reason it isn't being developed is the big oil companies are blocking the developers from patenting their research.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 12:16 AM, eyelostmyname wrote:

    They don't know that for sure! Why? Because no one has invented a giant dip stick, yet, that's why.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 12:28 AM, arbtrdr wrote:

    Interesting but sadly lacking - The Marcellus is producing more in NG/NGLs than the Bakken AND lots of oil yet it is not listed. Hmmmm.

    We have discovered more oil in each of the last several years than we consumed. However, do agree eventually we will use other thnigs and oil consumption will drop.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 1:23 AM, chougebiden wrote:

    Does anyone really believe this nonsense? This is such an unscientific assertion that it can only be something gullible investors would believe. This is the sort of rubbish that drives stock markets around the world, which is why stock markets are such fragile things.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 2:53 AM, buck1 wrote:

    This is misleading, oil reserves will not go to zero overnight after 53 years of stable production, oil production will peak then decline at 3-4% per year with a long tail to zero, based on BP's numbers oil production will reach zero in circa 2130 and PEAK oil will arrive circa 2018, that is the point at which supply can no longer increase, these are not my numbers, this is based on BP's reserve numbers using a 3% annual decline from the peak, the problem is alot closer than what this article would imply

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 5:21 AM, oilmike wrote:

    BP couldn't find oil if it was in a barrel in their

    lobby. It will be the small independents that keep this country alive. I've watched the practices of the largest oil companies over the past 20 years, i'm not impressed.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 7:12 AM, CrwChf wrote:

    I believe the article says BP has 53 yrs of oil left. They increased their reserve to 1687.9 billion barrels. I see nothing in the charts about how much oil is under Colorado. It has be studied and reports said there is more oil under Co. than in all of the middle east. So without those numbers in the mix, how can there be only 53 yrs left? And what about undiscovered oil that is most likely out there? Sounds like another conspiracy theory to jack the price up.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 7:47 AM, PeakOilBill wrote:

    We won't get a chance to run out of oil. Oil powers about 95% of all transportation, including 100% of air cargo, which is essential in some just- in-time manufacturing. Sometime during the next decade, oil will get so expensive, since nothing affordable can replace it as fast as it is depleting, that society won't be able to afford the cost of consuming, or producing it. How many people could come up with an extra $20,000 a year to pay to get to, and from their jobs? Some certainly can, but not enough to keep demand for everything else from collapsing.

    With the huge amount of debt in business and government, a depression will collapse the entire financial system. Oil is the one essential resource that we can't replace in time to avoid a complete economic meltdown, the likes of which has never occurred. I give it between 10 to 20 years. If you doubt me, reflect on one number, and ask yourself how much longer we can continue to use a finite resource at this speed. Every second, we consume over 40,000 gallons of crude oil. That is 90,000,000 barrels every day. Thanks to China and India, in a few more years, we will be consuming nearly 3 cubic miles of oil a year. That will eat through cubic miles of oil saturated sandstone pretty fast, because you can't get it all out, and because few oil fields are even hundreds of feet thick. And the amount of oil being discovered has been declining since the 1960's. Oil hasn't gone from $20 a barrel to $105 a barrel in only 14 years because it is still abundant. Think if inflation had gone up THAT fast! So expect $200 a barrel oil by 2020, and $350 a barrel by 2025. Think average income will go up fast enough for a lot of people to afford that? Don't invest in airline stocks. Visit the, 'our finite world', dot com website, and read the, 'Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending', article. They are already starting to get squeezed by higher and higher costs, that they can't pass on to consumers.

    Expect massive money printing as the end approaches, and the government gets desperate enough to try anything to stop the economic decline. They will start to shovel money into the economy like crazy. It will be QE cubed.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 8:00 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    I think many of the commentators are missing the point of the article. Sorry to disappoint all of the doom and gloom Al Gore supporters but the world will not run out of oil (or natural gas) and wind/solar will not take over.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 8:22 AM, greenknight32 wrote:

    All that tight oil is very expensive to extract, it won't be able to compete with renewables which are getting steadily cheaper. Improved battery tech that has already been developed will take care of the storage problems - it's no longer a question of whether the needed battery tech can be developed, but how long until it's commercialized. Any investor who doesn't prepare for this transition is going to lose their shirt.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 8:30 AM, RustyShaklFord71 wrote:

    Oil is a RENEWABLE form of Energy............. It's A-BIOTIC. meaning it replenishes itself , It is NOT from Decomposed Prehistoric Plants and Animals.. That's the LIE they told the World so they could Monopolize the Markets and make everyone a slave to 'THEIR SYSTEM of Control'. If they Told us the TRUTH , there would be no Economy or Money System for the ELITE to CONTROL US WITH to keep us 'SERFS' in line....

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 8:33 AM, RustyShaklFord71 wrote:

    Hah! BP LOST 53.3 years of oil in the Massive Oil Spill in the GULF in 2010 ALONE!....... trust me , there's ALOT more out there.. They just want to push the Man-Made Global Warming LIE and AGENDA 21

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 8:51 AM, greenknight32 wrote:

    Even if oil is abiogenic (and there's little scientific support for that theory), it makes no difference - it's still getting more expensive to extract.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 11:29 AM, Grecos wrote:

    Oil IS abiotic.

    Scientists over the past several years have created oil from plants. Their conclusions were that it would have take one billion earths having foliage and fossils covering 100% of the land mass to create all the oil that was used since the early 1900s.

    Plus, in the mid 1990's two oil wells in Texas that were determined to be completely dry twenty years ago were supposed to be permanently capped. Scientists doing surveys in the area before being capped found that the wells were half full.

    The reasons for having "little scientific support" is because big oil, as well as other companies associated with oil, does not want the public and investors to know the truth to keep their profits growing.

  • Report this Comment On June 23, 2014, at 11:39 AM, JohanStrauss wrote:

    Well, good. I'll be around for another 20, tops. If I'm lucky. Screw what happens after that.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 1:02 AM, strategy9 wrote:

    Ha.....MOTLEY FOOLS Indeed.....they ignored the Green River Formation...

    The worlds known estimates of oil are about 1 Trillion barrels of oil.

    According to the USGS the Green River Formation has an estimated 3 Trillion barrels of oil...with 1 Trillion barrels recoverable with today's technology.

    So we can double the Motley Fool Estimate.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 4:15 PM, jtb123 wrote:

    The problem we have is too much oil. If it is abiotic we are really screwed but there is enough known reserves to heat the average temperature 10 degrees or so over a few decades. The many oil funded think tanks don't want you to believe this but we need to take it seriously, our duty to our kids and grandkids.

    Germany is almost at 75% renewable electricity already, its possible to transition in a fairly short time.

    Solar electricity is now at cost parity or cheaper than fossil and solar employs more people than coal right now.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2015, at 11:39 PM, RushLimbutt wrote:

    "According to the USGS the Green River Formation has an estimated 3 Trillion barrels of oil...with 1 Trillion barrels recoverable with today's technology."

    The estimate is of "reserves" which means oil that can be developed economically at current prices. The Green River Formation - which isn't oil, but kerogen is not economically producible at this point, so isn't a reserve. It is what is called a "resource". Something that exists, and might in the future be economically recoverable.

    But the 1 trillion reserves has several issue. One is that tar sand and heavy oil make up the majority of it and are combined with light oil as if all 3 can be produced at the same rates. They can't. Canadian oil sands or tar sands production more costly and doesn't ramp up the way pumping oil out of the ground and shipping it can.

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Matt DiLallo

Matthew is a Senior Energy and Materials Specialist with The Motley Fool. He graduated from the Liberty University with a degree in Biblical Studies and a Masters of Business Administration. You can follow him on Twitter for the latest news and analysis of the energy and materials industries:

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