10/26/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Statistical Grok on Oil: A 'Crude' Awakening?

Let's say you could choose where to get additional oil from. And let's say your choice was between three sources. Which would you choose? The option that got you more or less?

Here's a quick comparison of the amounts of oil Americans can expect to gain or save between now and 2030 from three well-touted options:

Total crude oil from opening lower 48 outer continental shelf: 

up to 1.8 million barrels

Total crude oil from opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR):

up to 2,600 million barrels

Total crude oil saved by keeping tires properly inflated:

up to 3,555 million barrels


Used mean oil production scenario for ANWR figure.

Keeping tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by three percent ( The average car gets 25 mpg and is driven 13,000 miles annually. Number of U.S. cars and light trucks is 235 million based on 2006 data from U.S. Bureau of Transit Statistics. Assumed the number of vehicles grew by 1.5 percent annually between 2009 and 2030. If number of cars and light trucks is held constant at 2006 numbers, keeping tires properly inflated would save up to 2,875 million barrels of oil. Assumed each barrel of crude translates into 26 gallons of gasoline. ANWR numbers refer specifically to Area 1002.


Energy Information Administration - Analysis of Crude Oil Production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -

Energy Information Administration - Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf -

Dr. Bill Chameides is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. He blogs regularly at