Canada has recently been recognized as the country with the second largest oil reserves in the world. The reason: 176 billion barrels of recoverable oil from massive oil sands deposits in Alberta. By comparison, Saudi Aramco claims that oil reserves in Saudi Arabia amount to 263 billion barrels. Current oil prices make converting oil sands into oil economically feasible (and the technology is only getting better).
In the United States, private citizens and oil companies are beginning to look into converting "shale" into oil. Shale traps a compound called kerogen; and kerogen is an organic material that, when heated into a liquid, can be converted into synthetic oil.
Conservative projections of the oil recoverable from shale deposits in the states of Utah and Wyoming alone stand at 130 billion barrels. Similar estimates indicate that there are over 2 trillion barrels of oil trapped in shale in place in the continental US.
Commercial production of oil from shale has never advanced because it has always been cheaper to produce conventional domestic supplies and to import oil from abroad. But now, with conventional US production in decline ... and with seemingly perpetual geopolitical instability in major oil producing regions abraod, a reexamination of generating oil from domestic shale deposits has become a necessity.
Source: Cedoz, Frederick, Thinking Beyond OPEC, The Journal of International Security Affairs, Spring 2006
From a political perspective, I couldn't be happier. More oil in the States and Canada means less money for the crazy dictatorships and regimes in the Middle East. Let the US deal with the "negative externalities" of drilling oil and having a rentier state themselves and let us develop without the weight of oil on our chests. I'd rather be a consumer of oil than a producer!
From an environmental perspective though, I couldn't be more disapointed. Are humans ever going to kick the habit?!?!