Contrary to what the doomers would have us believe, we are in fact able to increase recoverable reserves by the use of technology. This is common wisdom in the oil industry and you have to be some kind of conspiracy whack job to dismiss this out of hand.
Two such obvious examples are the recent technological breakthroughs that allow extraction of shale gas in such great quantities that not only has a decade long peak and decline been reversed in North America, but the USA in particular is now so awash in the stuff that they are exporting it to Europe.
Although oil is harder to do than gas and in all likelihood, the USA by itself won't be able to replace ENTIRELY it's conventional output by unconventional oil, there have nevertheless been significant breakthroughs.
The Bakken field in North Dakota has been the focus of much frantic activity in the last five years as new technology was developed by the likes of Chesapeake Energy to extract oil from the tight reservoirs in the Bakken which were previously inaccessible by older technologies. This technology has now become so mature that the decline in oil production in the USA since the 1970s has stopped and actually gone into reverse.
I thought this wasn't supposed to happen?
In any case, it doesn't stop there. Ask yourself this question: Are there likely to be similar reservoirs to the Bakken in other countries?
Is it likely that the Bakken is the only such reservoir in the world?
In fact there ARE other such reservoirs and now industry analysts are predicting that it could be conceivable that the USA would be able to close it's import gap by up to 60% by 2020.
That in contrast to the so-called "Export Land Model" which says the USA will be screwed. In fact it might be Saudi Arabia which instead has a potential problem because their economy is extremely dependent on oil exports.
I'll go further: the Bakken formation on the Canadian side is *underdeveloped* and it's likely that there will be other Bakken types formations in Canada and that continuing and ongoing improvements in process engineering in the oil sands will enable the potential to close the export gap *altogether* with the help of imports from Canada and other friendly nations such as Australia which has recently discovered it's own version of the Bakken which may end up being even more prolific.
I say potential Saudi problem and potential export gap, because I doubt that trade will just stop even if friendly countries can in fact meet the import needs of the USA. We will *still* buy some oil from Saudi. Saudi Arabia is an ally after all and they need to eat. We produce a lot of wheat and other agricultural products and they need to feed their population. We might need to re-sell the oil we buy from them onto the world market but we won't let them starve.
PS This is not to say we should all go out and buy Hummers. Instead I propose we all buy electric cars and we export ALL of our oil. Then there might be a glut. Wouldn't that be a blast.