Those are some big error bars

From CNN.

Alaska’s untapped oil reserves estimate lowered 90 percent

The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate.

The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90 percent less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.

The new estimate is mainly due to the incorporation of new data from recent exploration drilling revealing gas occurrence rather than oil in much of the area, the geological survey said.


About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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8 Responses to Those are some big error bars

  1. D. C. Sessions says:

    And here goes the Obama Administration cooking the numbers to scare people into signing onto its radical environmental agenda.

  2. Chris says:

    I’m not sure if D.C.’s being serious, but I figured it was only a matter of time until someone said that.

  3. James Hanley says:

    Heh, I’m sure some will say it seriously. But I have a hard time imagining the USGS being very highly politicized.

  4. D. C. Sessions says:

    I have a hard time imagining the USGS being very highly politicized.

    You’re living a very sheltered life up there, aren’t you?

    OK, I’m in Arizona. I’m not sure how we overtook Arkansas WRT inbreeding, but there you are.

  5. ppnl says:

    The problem is that there is no single definition of oil reserves. One definition is the amount that you are 95% certain can be produced. Another is the amount that is at least 50% certain can be produced and a third definition is the amount that you are 10% sure you can produce. All go under the name “oil reserves” but with a proven, likely or possible modifier. So a 90% reduction as exploration converts possible reserves into proven reserves isn’t unreasonable. I suspect something like that is what is happening.

  6. AMW says:

    I’m inclined to agree with ppnl here. I checked crude prices after reading this story, and they were slightly down. I would have expected the opposite if the market just got news that a lot of oil it thought was there really wasn’t.

  7. James Hanley says:

    D.C.–It’s not that I have a hard time imagining bureaucracies being politicized, but my general impression is that USGS is less so than many. But I don’t discount the possibility that you have info I don’t.

    ppnl & AMW–That kind of input is what makes this hobby so delightful. Great info.

  8. D. C. Sessions says:

    This seems to be turning into an inadvertent experiment in Poe’s Law.

    For the record: no, I don’t think the USGS is a political pawn cranking out partisan talking-point reports. Or at least, no more so than it was six years ago. To the extent that it has any institutional bias, I suspect that the bias is residual from prior Administrations which were explicitly partisan in appointments to Federal agencies.

    I also don’t think that NOAA or NASA are partisan hacks. I especially don’t think that NOAA and NASA staff were cranking out totally bogus junk science in pursuit of radical environmental agendas six years ago. And yet, there are an awful lot of people around here who are absolutely certain of exactly that.

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