U.S. Contains Enough Oil and Gas Reserves to Fuel Country for Decades, Petroleum Institute Says

By Penny Starr | January 5, 2011 | 4:01am EST

Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said the United States has "vast reserves" of natural gas and oil resources and developing them would create jobs, increase government revenues and provide needed energy. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said that if the Obama administration and Congress would allow the industry access to domestic oil and natural gas reserves, the United States would get the energy it needs, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the government would add more than $1.7 trillion to its coffers.

“The state of American energy must be strong in order for the American economy to thrive,” said Gerard in a speech at the Newseum on Tuesday. “How then do we strengthen the state of American energy?”

“For starters, there are vast reserves of domestic resources that are currently off-limits to exploration and production: billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas ... onshore and off,” Gerard said. “And those estimates are most likely conservative given our past experience and new advanced technologies.”

It is estimated that the United States has enough natural gas to fuel 100 percent of current domestic demand for at least 90 years. In addition, the United States produces about 2 billion barrels of crude oil per year, according to the API.

“Accessing these U.S. resources could improve our energy security by making us less reliant on others, generate an additional $1.7 trillion in government revenue over the life of the resources and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” Gerard said.

In API’s new report, “The State of American Energy,” which was released at the event, details how U.S. government projections of oil and natural gas reserves could provide energy for America for many decades to come.

“Thankfully, America has vast domestic energy resources – enough oil and natural gas on federal lands alone to power 65 million cars for 60 years and heat 60 million households for 160 years,” the report states.

A study by Wood Mackenzie, also released at the event, shows that increased access to America’s oil and natural gas reserves could, by 2025, create 530,000 jobs, generate $150 billion in taxes, royalties, and other revenue for the government, and “boost domestic production by four million barrels of oil a day,” stated API in a press release.

On the other hand, “Raising taxes on the industry with no increase in access could reduce domestic production by 700,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (in 2020), sacrifice as many as 170,000 jobs (in 2014), and reduce revenue to the government by billions of dollars annually,” stated the release.

The API report, State of American Energy, estimates that the offshore drilling regions in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic coast could hold as much as $7.6 billion barrels of oil and 58.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

On a related note, North Dakota is one of the fastest growing oil producing regions in the United States, where 80 million barrels were produced in 2009, the report states. Also, North Dakota’s unemployment rate is less than four percent, according to Gerard.

Gerard further explained how the oil and natural gas industry could create hundreds of thousands of jobs if the federal government would allow the United States to partner with Canada to increase that country’s oil-sands production for export to refineries and distribution points in America.

The Canadian Energy Research Institute, for instance, estimates that increased production would stimulate both the U.S. and Canadian economy, and create 340,000 jobs in the United States alone and add $34 billion to America’s GDP by 2015.

At a press conference following his presentation at the Newseum, Gerard said the majority of Americans support developing domestic energy sources both on and offshore, a task he said the oil and natural gas industry can do if restrictions are lifted on vital resource exploration.

“We have the opportunity here to create jobs, to increase the revenue of the federal government, and we can do it on American soil, with American workers,” said Gerard.

He also said that between 2004 and 2007 the gas and oil industry created 2 million U.S. jobs, and is ready to do so again if it is given access to domestic energy reserves.

“We have the ability, in the United States, to create vast amounts of energy,” Gerard said. “We just need the political will to do it.”

The API represents more than 450 U.S. oil and natural gas companies.

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