A path not taken – why?

It’s interesting that last night I pointed out in passing North Dakota’s success in bringing their per-capita income to the cusp of the top five in the nation when even more encouraging news recently came out for them. This update is from the Energy Tomorrow blog in a post by Mark Green:

The U.S. Geological Survey has new estimates for oil and natural gas in the Williston Basin shale area that simply blows the doors off previous estimates:

  • 3.65 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil for the Bakken Formation.
  • 3.73 billion barrels for the Three Forks Formation.
  • The total, 7.38 billion barrels, is a two-fold increase over USGS’ 2008 estimate, which included only the Bakken Formation because Three Forks wasn’t thought to be productive.

If you’re wondering where the Williston Basin is, perhaps this USGS map will help. Note that this formation is different than the Marcellus Shale formation which encompasses the western end of Maryland. But consider that North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and while it’s not necessarily glamorous tasks requiring a master’s degree or specialized training, there is a lot of work available out on the plains.

But the principle outlined later in the piece by Green remains true regardless of the conditions:

The dramatic increases in these oil and natural gas estimates are a credit to industry initiative and the application of ideas and technology – in non-federal areas where oil and natural gas development is supported and encouraged. These reserves underscore the game-changing nature of unconventional oil and natural gas – again, thanks to hydraulic fracturing – that could support the creation of 3.5 million jobs and more than $5.1 trillion in industry cumulative capital spending by 2035, according to an IHS Global study.

Obviously the small portion of our state which happens to lie within the Marcellus Shale region would only see a fraction of that benefit. But what about offshore oil? We don’t know because no one is being allowed to do the necessary leg work to drill and find out. There could be an energy windfall off Ocean City which has nothing to do with thirty-story high wind turbines but we can’t say. Indeed, we could have no viable oil deposits there, either.

But factor in that just five years ago no one thought the Three Forks Formation was commercially viable for oil, and now there’s the potential for 3.7 billion barrels. (Granted, our daily consumption is about 20 million barrels of oil per day so by itself the field isn’t huge, about six months’ worth. Yet you can add that to all our other potential, not to mention the near-certainty that technology can eventually enhance our findings.)

Because I favor the expansion of an energy type which has been proven to be efficient and relatively cheap in comparison to other modes, some have called me a shill for the oil industry. Sorry, I don’t work for them – although if they can use a writer, I certainly would entertain the offer. I just happen to know that an economy which is growing the right way needs to expand their usage of energy so mankind has to expend less and allows us more time and effort to devote to improving our lot in life.

As I said yesterday, the part of the state which tends to vote against its own best interests is the part which, in this case, is sending useful idiots who believe the garbage about the “dangers” of fracking to Annapolis. No, the process is not risk-free, but no endeavor worth doing is. We’ve placed ourselves with New York as two states falling far behind the curve on energy exploration, but 2014 provides us the chance to correct that mistake.

5 thoughts on “A path not taken – why?”

  1. The path hasn’t been taken because those with the power — the urbanists — know that in the long run, energy “independence” is a driver of liberty. It empowers people to choose where to work, where to live, how to live, and what type of work to do.

    It runs directly contrary to their goal of creating a great urban megalopolis where the compliant citizenry is made more so because their only options will be government dependency or despondency. In urban centers driven by mass transit and “transit oriented development”, you will lose choice, freedom, and liberty for the sake of some utopian vision of quality that can best be summarized as “we’ll pound down the mountains and raise up the valleys and everyone will live according to the same (lower) standard.”

    Make no mistake, the restriction on energy R&D is targeted at diminishing our liberty. Its the long play.

  2. You don’t think drilling is a specialized skill that requires training? You probably feel the same way about the welders and mechanics that keep the boom alive. You’re really showing your intellectual ignorance here, Michael.

  3. I was thinking more about the common laborers who keep everything running, but feel free to enlighten me with your expertise. Point is, for most of these jobs you don’t need a master’s degree, although some vocational training – a sadly lacking portion of our educational system, by the way – would be quite helpful. On that I would agree and stand corrected insofar as that goes.

  4. I don’t think most advanced degrees require specialized skills. And I think many of them require less knowledge than most trade skills like welding or drilling or plumbing, etc.

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