Oil in Colorado: ‘About Equal to Entire World’s Proven Oil Reserves’ image

According to the Government Accountability Office, the Green River Formation, a largely vacant area of mostly federal land that covers the territory where Colorado, Utah and Wyoming come together has more recoverable oil than the rest of the world combined.

Say what?

USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions.’

“The Green River Formation–an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming–contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale,”Anu K. Mittal, the GAO’s director of natural resources and environment said in written testimony submitted to the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

Given that current U.S. daily oil consumption is running at 19.5 million barrels, the staggering amount of Green River reserves would by itself supply domestic oil consumption for more than 200 years. That sure blows the heck out of the “peak oil” theory that the world is running out of oil.

The GAO also cited potential environmental impacts from producing oil from the Green River shale that included the need to draw large amounts of water, possible harm to water quality, and temporary degradation of air quality and the clearing of large amounts of vegetation.


  • Ron Patterson

    Peak oil is not about Running out of oil. Peak oil is the point of maximum production of oil worldwide. We will never run out of oil but there will come a point where it is no longer economical to extract oil. That will likely be decades after peak oil.

    In the last fifty years or so there have been many attempts to economically extract oil from the Green River Marlstone. None have been successful. As the price of oil increases so does the cost to turn mine the kerogen and turn it into oil. I doubt that it ever will be economical to do so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001026837377 Alec Sevins

      "Peak Oil" is a simple concept once people understand that wells deplete in a bell curve, not a linear manner. The geological factors that prevent us from recovering every bit of oil are the very same factors that cause oil wells to peak.

      I think a lot of people simply cant wrap their minds around the concept of scarcity, so they ignore the details that point to it. Cornucopianism is alive and well, even as oil recovery shrinks.

  • Jemery G

    Sure, and I suppose the atmosphere will absorb all that CO2 emission without any change.
    Better yet, Read Dr. James Hansen's letter to the New York Times concerning "unconventional fossil fuels (ie. tar sands).
    If we go in this direction we are indeed fools because we have been warned.

    • Rod


      • Jemery G

        GAM Rod…that's if you can

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001026837377 Alec Sevins

    More mindless denial of EROEI is what this article amounts to. You can talk and talk and talk about hypothetical reserves, but unless you can explain how a marginal resource like kerogen shale can generate a pragmatic flow rate, you're blowing smoke.

    Water usage along is a huge barrier to shale oil production, and it would ravage vast amounts of acreage. But again, the energy return is so poor it might never get to that point.

    There is some confusion between dry kerogen shale and "wet" shale, as found in the Bakken formation, which may yield only a year or so of total U.S. consumption (a boomlet at best). Dry kerogen shale has much lower EROEI since it must be cooked, and it's the resource that draws these ludicrous claims. How about just telling the truth from a geological perspective, not an investment hype perspective?