Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that the U.S. had more drillable oil and gas reserves than previously estimated. ‘Proved’ oil and natural gas reserves are the amount that drillers can extract affordably, with the prevailing technology.
After several decades of decline, the development of fracking in the past 10 years has increased the amount of oil and natural gas, leading to these recent highs. Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
In 2018, those reserves reached historic peaks according to the EIA. Gas reserves declined between 2017 and 2018 in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado with oil reserves going up in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. Professor Peter Maniloff at the Colorado School of Mines noted that this discovery meant a boost in employment for that sector but said that the vast quantities of fossil fuels need to be left in the ground if the world was to address climate change. He says there is no guarantee that oil and gas industries will out-perform increasingly cheaper renewable energies and electric vehicles in the near future.