If we didn’t import oil from other countries, it’s estimated that the supply of oil in the United States would only be enough to get us through about three and a half years. Though proponents of increased oil drilling within the US continue to try to convince us that more drilling can break our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, the truth is that the US simply doesn’t have enough oil left to make much of a difference. The US now sits on only about 3% of global oil reserves, and there is no way can continue burning oil unless we stay dependent on imports. The only way to realistically break our dependence on imported oil is transition to a clean energy economy that is not dependent on oil at all.
In the absence of imports, how long US reserves could last is fairly irrelevant. Without imports, we would have no auto fuel, jet fuel, home heating oil, etc for 60% of the time – more than 4 days a week. If the current US production level were sustained, at about 5 million barrels per day, we’d have that, and we’d have it for much longer than 3 years. You cannot look at US proven reserves (about 21 billion barrels) and equate that with time, because it cannot all be produced in a big whoosh. We would have diminishing quantities available for much longer than 3 years.There WOULD be new discoveries, but as nickengelfired says, all it would do would be to stretch out the long decline by some time – it might mean, for example, that in 10 years instead of producing 3 million barrels per day, we could be producing 3.1 million barrels per day. But the decline would continue.
But if the original questioner really wants to know how long the present US consumption rate could be sustained in the absense of imports, the answer is a few weeks or a couple months, and that would be with using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. After that, we’d have no choice but to stop all driving, home heating, jet plane refueling, for 4 days out of every 7.
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