Oil Shale Reserves in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming

Gasoline prices have risen above $4/gallon and in some states have peaked at over $5/gal recently.  As we pull up to the pump to put gas in our cars, we cringe and wish fondly for the $1.70 to $1.80 a gallon prices of 2009.

The U.S. continues to import nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day according to the U.S. Department of Energy, while consuming twice that amount.  Since 2003 there has been a twelve percent decrease in oil, coal and natural gas production on Federally Leased land.

Shell's experimental in-situ oil shale facilit...

Shell's experimental in-situ oil shale facility, Piceance Basin, Colorado. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey Department of the Interior/USGS http://energy.cr.usgs.gov/images/other/oil_shale/shell_insitu.gif (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What has happened to domestic oil production?  The Obama administration has withdrawn, 138 areas in Montana and Utah for exploration.  They have also cancelled lease sales in the resource rich areas of Alaska, off the Atlantic Coast and in the Western Gulf of Mexico.  Former Colorado Senator, now Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, presented rules in 2010 which now have become enforced creating even more hurdles and impediments, to production on Federal Lands.

A report from the United States Geological survey (USGS) indicates that oil reserves in the United States far exceed the proven reserves in Saudi Arabia.  In 2009, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the following oil shale reserves in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Colorado – 1,300,000 barrels of oil per acre on average.
Utah – 800,000 barrels of oil per acre on average.
Wyoming – 500,000 barrels of oil per acre on average.

Given the current economy and unemployment statistics across America, it would seem prudent to explore the possibilities of tapping these known reserves.  The Colorado Oil and Gas Association employs more than 40,000 people, supporting 107,000 jobs throughout the state.  The employment payroll for the state is $6.5 billion annually which contributes over $31 billion of economic support to the state.  Currently the Oil and Gas Industry is a benefit to the State of Colorado, and how much more of a benefit would it be were they able to access the shale oil resources?

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