Drillers in American states of Utah and Colorado are digging into a massive shale deposit trying to find a way to unlock oil reserves that are so vast they would swamp OPEC.
A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that if half of the oil bound up in the rock of the Green River Formation could be recovered it would be 'equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves'.
Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be three trillion barrels.
"In the past 100 years - in all of human history-we have consumed 1 trillion barrels of oil. There are several times that much here," Roger Day, vice president for operations for American Shale Oil (AMSO), said.
According to ABC News, the Green River drilling is beginning as shale mining is booming in the U.S. and a report by the International Energy Agency predicts that the U.S. will become the world's largest oil producer by 2020.
That flood of oil can have major implications for the U.S. economy as well as the country's foreign policy which has been based on a growing scarcity of oil, the report said.
The IEA report does not detail where the American oil will be coming from, but the largest deposit is the Green River formation which has yet to tapped in any significant way, it added.
According to the report, the operation might require so much water it would compete with Denver and agriculture for vital supplies, the GAO report warned, could pollute underground streams, affect fish and other wildlife, and kick up so much dirt it would leave national monuments in a cloud of dust.
Nevertheless, the federal government has authorized six experimental drilling leases on federal land in an effort to find a way to tap into the riches of the Green River Formation, the report added. (ANI)