The first official estimate of how much oil may lie beneath the central Northwest Territories says there could be nearly 200 billion barrels of the resource in two separate fields.
The U.S. shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America’s “flexi-frackers” remain largely unruffled.
One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the U.S. oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying power than OPEC.
The National Energy Board and the Northwest Territories Geological Survey warn that not all of that oil will be recoverable.
But if even a few per cent of it is economically viable, it confirms previous suggestions the Canol and Bluefish shales hold up to seven billion barrels of recoverable oil and could be comparable to North Dakota’s booming Bakken field.
“These are large numbers,” said N.W.T. Energy Minister Dave Ramsay.
“This should increase the level of investor confidence and revitalize interest in the Northwest Territories. This really does put wind in our sails.”
About 146 billion barrels are estimated for Canol and 46 billion for Bluefish.