reading: Alaska’s untapped oil reserves estimate lowered by about 90 percent

“The [U.S. Geological Survey] group estimates about 896 million barrels of such [conventional, undiscovered] oil are in the reserve, about 90 percent less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.”

North America’s proven amout of crude oil was around 70 billion barrels (2007), the world’s amount around 1200 billion barrels. (72 billion / 1300 billion according to BP 2009. The CIA World Fact Book also has numbers, but they don’t always differentiate between conventional and unconventional oils. They give 21.32 billion barrels for the US alone.)

This means Alaska was supposed to hold another 50% of the discovered amount in the US and now only seems to have about 4% – eek. But then the US amount is only about 2% of the world’s reserves.
I cannot find numbers for undiscovered oil estimates right now, but as they change a lot depending on who is asked and are also guided by political intents they wouldn’t be too reliable anyway. However, there is an estimate of about 900 billion barrels for the OPEC countries (Data also from BP, via Wikipedia) who have the majority of oil fields on their territories, so it’s a difference of 1% vs 0.1% with the new Alaska number.

While this certainly is not too great an amount globally it might still be a big factor for the US who are so very petrol-hungry. I’m not an expert on these topics – what could the consequences of this discovery be?