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VERIFY: There is enough oil in Texas and New Mexico to fuel the US for 200 years, but it's not easily accessible

Energy expert, Ed Hirs, says recovering oil from the Permian Basin would be expensive and would require more workers and materials.

TEXAS, USA — The VERIFY team is looking into a meme that has been shared thousands of times on social media.

It claims there’s a section of Texas with an oil supply so big, it could supply the entire country for more than a century.

Someone wanted to know if that is true.

The post shows a map of New Mexico and Texas, with a shaded area in the center. It claims this region, known as the Permian Basin, has enough oil to fuel America for the next 200 years. 

The caption above the post says, “We could solve the energy ‘crisis’ so easily”.

That one post has been shared over 3,000 times on Twitter. The meme is also gaining traction on Facebook.

RELATED: Why are U.S. oil companies not ramping up production to cash in on record high gas prices?

We have two sources for this, the United States Geological Survey, which assesses basins around the world to determine how much oil and natural gas is recoverable and, KHOU Energy Fellow, Ed Hirs.

According to the USGS, the Permian Basin is the largest fuel producer in the U.S. with more than 46 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

“That’s honest to goodness the case,” Hirs said.

But the post needs some context. 

Hirs said while the oil is technically retrievable, drilling that amount is not practical.

“They qualify it by saying this is out without regard to economics, without regard to accessibility. Sometimes we can't get the oil and gas to market. Sometimes it just cost too much to get it out of the ground,” Hirs said.

RELATED: As pain at the pump continues, the U.S. is exporting as much oil as it’s importing

Cost is one issue. Hirs said production would also require more workers and materials.

“It would be really difficult to do. We're having trouble right now increasing the drilling that we need to do today. Supply chain issues with steel worker issues, we've lost over 100,000 workers in the oil patch since 2014,” Hirs said.  

So, we can verify, while the claim may be true, it wouldn’t be as easy as the post declares.

Hirs says this claim has been going around long before social media existed.

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