digg directed me to a deliriously optimistic post by Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard regarding extracting "shale oil" at a cost of $30 a barrel. Royal Dutch Shell has applied for a patent on the extraction process. Allegedly, "there is more oil in the Colorado shale fields than the entire Middle East had at its peak."
The most optimistic production estimate suggested a capacity of "200,000 barrels a day from oil shale by 2011, 2 million barrels a day by 2020, and ultimately 10 million barrels a day." 10 million barrels a day.
Do you know how much oil the US consumes every day? More than 20 million barrels. Current domestic production is only 5m bbl/d and falling. Even if the shale oil pipe dream works, and even if the US holds its consumption level steady over the next fifteen years—hah!—the US will still be dependent upon the import of billions of barrels of oil each year.
Goldfarb closes the post with the following conjecture: "Wow. What would the world be like if all the oil in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Iraq, Nigeria, and elsewhere was suddenly nearly worthless?" No such luck. With such paltry production levels, and rising international consumption, there is no way we can avoid the continuing ascendancy of the petro states.
Learn more about shale oil at the World Energy Council site.