California sees 11% decline in oil reserves, but still 5th most in U.S.

By Dan Bacher | 

Construction Coverage has just released a new report about which U.S. states have the most oil reserves.  

As California regulators transition from fracking and approve fewer and fewer new oil drilling permits each year, California has seen an 11.2% decline in its crude oil reserves, but it still has the fifth most in the U.S., the report revealed. 

California has 1,716 million barrels in crude oil reserves, according to the report. The five year change in proven reserves is 11.2 percent and -217 million barrels.   

Although a number of key climate bills managed to get through the Legislature despite the all-out lobbying spending frenzy by Big Oil in 2023, the oil and gas regulators in California, the seventh largest oil producing state in the nation, continued to issue new and reworked oil drilling permits.

The Newsom administration has approved a total of 15,789 new and reworked oil wells since January 2019. CalGEM, the state's oil and gas regulator, approved 2,064 total permits in 2023, including 25 new well permits and 2039 oil well rework permits.

The approval of new permits has slowed down dramatically, but thousands of oil well rework permits continue to be issued every year as oil companies seek to avoid plugging their wells:

On the national level, “from the early 1980s to around 2008, U.S. oil production fell from 10.7 million barrels per day down to just 7.8 million, while oil imports more than doubled from 6.0 million to 12.9 million barrels per day,” the report noted.

“But advances in geological understanding and technology like horizontal drilling and fracking have since transformed the country’s oil business: imports have fallen sharply, while production and exports have grown. By 2020, the U.S. became a net exporter of oil for the first time ever, and average oil production in 2023 was nearly 22 million barrels per day,” the report stated.

Some states have seen greater effects from the recent boom in oil production than others. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to determine the states with the most crude oil proved reserves.

These are the key takeaways from the report:

  • “Texas has seen a 32.4% increase in the size of its proved oil reserves over the last five years, further cementing its place as the top oil state in the U.S.
  • With over 17 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, Texas now has more than three times the total of the next-highest state.
  • New Mexico recently surpassed North Dakota to become the U.S.’s 2nd biggest oil state after a 192% 5-year increase in proved reserves.
  • Other states have also been rapidly climbing up the list of major oil producers. States like Alaska (98.9% increase over the last five years) and Ohio (176.3% increase) have seen dramatic growth in the size of their reserves due to improvements in production.”

Here is the complete data breakout for California:

LocationRankCrude oil proved reserves (million barrels)5-year change in proved reserves (percent)5-year change in proved reserves (million barrels)Number of operating refineries
United States-41,151+25.6%+8,378129

The full report includes the complete data table. Here is the original report:

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