Resources And Reserves

Proven worldwide energy resources are large. The largest remaining known reserves of crude oil, used mainly for producing transportation fuels, are located in the Middle East, along the equator, and in the former Soviet Union. U.S. proven oil reserves currently account for only about 3 percent of the world's total. Large reserves of natural gas exist in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Coal is the most abundant fuel on earth and the primary fuel for electricity in the United States, which has the largest proven reserves. Annual world consumption of energy is still currently less than 1 percent of combined world reserves of fossil fuels. The resources and reserves of the principal fossil fuels in the United States—coal, petroleum, and natural gas—follow.


Fuel Proven reserves

Estimated undiscovered recoverable reserves

Estimated identified and undiscovered resources

Coal 7.3 Petroleum 0.15 Natural gas 0.19

0.31 0.43


*ZJ = 1021 J. (To convert to 1018 Btu, multiply by 0.948.)

The energy content of fossil fuels in commonly measured quantities is as follows.

Energy content

Bituminous and anthracite coal Lignite and subbituminous coal Crude oil Natural-gas liquids Natural gas

38.4 MJ/m3

26 x 106 Btu/US ton 20 x 106 Btu/US ton 5.8 x 106 Btu/bbl 3.8 x 106 Btu/bbl 1032 Btu/ft3

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