December 17, 2011 at 08:00 AM EST
4 Energy Plays That Don’t Need an Army
As the Iraq War draws to a close, our government needs to think about how it will expand its domestic onshore energy policy.

oil rig 630By year’s end, all U.S. military personnel will be out of Iraq, and the newly formed Iraqi security forces will be tasked with keeping the peace, protecting the oil fields and repelling attacks from enemies of the state.

This marks the conclusion of a U.S. military presence in Iraq since 2003. It also serves as a rather unpopular topic of political discussion, especially given the election year that’s fast approaching — then again, war never is a popular topic to stump on during an election year.

Should civil war or an incursion happen before Nov. 4, 2012, the blood spilled, the hundreds of billions of dollars spent and the forfeiture of oil reparations to pay for the war will paint this seemingly clever political maneuver as selfish and foolish.

This is the risk a president takes when he doesn’t listen to the military tactics of his generals. This type of political posturing is just one of the reasons why it behooves America to rapidly expand its domestic onshore energy policy.

The benefits of doing so are both numerous and blatantly clear: Thanks to the technological advances and new drilling techniques, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, U.S. oil production is at its highest level since 2002. The Energy Information Administration reported that production of crude oil rose by 3% last year alone, which is an average of roughly 7.5 million barrels per day.

Take Texas for instance: In 2008, production of crude reached a low of nearly 1 million barrels per day, but it has jumped 20% since then, to 1.2 million barrels per day, thanks to an industry-wide focus on the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale formations in west and south Texas, which are undergoing a renaissance.

Other vast domestic oil and natural gas deposits in the U.S., that were at one time too costly to pursue, include the Bakken Oil Shale in North Dakota, the Wattenberg Field in northeast Colorado and the Marcellus Shale Formation in Western Pennsylvania. Technological drilling developments have opened the flood gates for drilling there and are causing what only can be called an American oil boom.

These previously untapped areas represent modern-day buried treasure and are in the nascent stages of development. Can you smell that? It’s the smell of opportunity — and money.

So vast is the Bakken shale formation that a major play there, Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR), recently estimated that the company has drilled only about 15% of the wells that will be needed to develop the entire Bakken formation.

Lane Riggs, a senior VP at Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO), one of the nation’s largest refiners, said his company processed 37,000 barrels of oil per day from the Eagle Ford Shale in the second quarter of 2011 alone. And Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) announced it had discovered what it believes will be 1 billion to 2 billion barrels of oil in the Wattenberg Field, which would make it the largest oil discovery in more than 40 years.

Suffice to say that, collectively, America’s oil production will double over the next decade. The world markets have recognized America’s new oil boom as well.


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