Texas has had more than a century of oil exploration. After 100 years of constant drilling, you  might expect the state to be tapped out. Yet the largest oil deposit ever located in the U.S. was just found in Texas.

The US Geological Survey announced Tuesday that it has found what it believes to be the largest deposit of oil ever in the states. Bigger even than the deposits of Alaska. Their estimate is a whopping 20 billion barrels of oil and as many as 1.6 million barrels of natural gas.

The location is known as Wolfcamp shale, and hides beneath the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin. At the going market rates, these deposits are worth an estimated $900 billion.

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“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program, said in a statement.

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More than 3,000 oil wells have already been drilled in this area. This number has fluctuated with the price for oil over the last few years. As more wells access more oil, it tends to drive prices down. If pricing gets too low, the companies can no longer afford to drill, so supply wanes. Prices rise and more wells are drilled….

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Getting the oil from the shale isn’t as straight forward as many would like. Fracking, the process required to separate the oil from the shale, is highly controversial, and is blamed for earthquakes in Oklahoma.

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The upside to the debate is that we, as a nation, reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Critics of our past energy strategies point to our reliance on the highly unstable middle-east as evidence that we need to reach energy independence, and this new oil reserve will help ensure we reach those goals.

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