Ask Harry: Secret U.S. oil reserve is no safe bet

DEAR HARRY: I was browsing on my computer the other night when I came across an article that claimed that the U.S. has oil reserves in a belt from Montana to Texas that exceed those of the entire Middle East. The estimates run to a trillion barrels. This is supposed to be a long-held secret by an agreement among the major oil-drilling companies. The article seemed to be the real McCoy, with all kinds of backup information. It also urged readers to sell their oil-company stocks and get involved in buying long-term oil options. Could you please find out if these reserves really exist?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: A friend told me the same story a little while ago. I checked it out as well as I could on the Internet. I found the piece you cited in several places. There are many questions I have. First, is this large reserve really there? I have not seen any reliable source that says so. Second, can it be brought to the surface for use? The articles indicated that it depends upon whether substantial improvements can be made to our present fracking technologies. With all the present concerns about the safety of fracking, that may be a long way off. Third, what will it cost to get the oil and convert it to usable products? There are no reliable estimates. I'm not selling my oil-company investments. Incidentally, the latest reliable figures I could find (2009) put the U.S. reserves at 14th largest in the world.


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