This just came in FYI

Jack Venrick
Enumclaw, Washington
http://www.nypost.com:80/seven/05292008/business/montana_governor_is_sitting_on_an_oil_mi_113005.htm
MONTANA GOVERNOR IS SITTING ON AN OIL MINE

May 29, 2008 -- HELENA, Mont. - Here's some very good news about oil that the manipulators on Wall Street don't want you to know: there could be as much as 40 billion barrels of crude lying untouched in eastern Montana.

That's billion with a "b" - as in a ball-breaking amount for those speculators who are purposely pushing oil higher for their own selfish reasons.

Who says? Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer does, adding that his state - with fewer than 1 million residents - would be thrilled to bail the US out of its current energy predicament.

While on a visit to Wyoming and Montana, I popped in on Schweitzer, the Democratic governor, who was more than happy to answer my questions about the rumors of huge oil deposits in the so-called Bakken area of his state.

Right now, the US Geological Service estimates that there are 4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Bakken region, which also reaches into North Dakota.

"They are always conservative," said Schweitzer, who greeted me in his office dressed in jeans, a white shirt and a string tie. "There will be more. It'll probably be more like 40 billion."

It's so much, in fact, that a discovery like that - or even hints of such a find - could ruin speculators' chances of getting the price of oil much higher than it already is.

In fact, just the knowledge of such big oil deposits - together with a drop off in fuel use because of the recession and the inevitable development of alternative energy sources - might cause gasoline prices to fall substantially in the future.

As it is today, Americans are being cheated on the price of oil. I've been writing about this for the past couple of years and now even a do-nothing Congress is getting concerned, although its ire is misplaced.

Wall Street speculators, aided by cheap money from the Federal Reserve and an ill-informed press, have kidnapped oil in much the same way that the Hunt brothers cornered the silver market in the 1970s.

The only difference is that the Hunt escapades didn't come close to ruining the country's economy. Congress is blaming the oil companies, which certainly are benefiting from the surge in oil prices. President Bush did his part by groveling to the Saudis for more oil - and was offered a token increase, but was essentially turned down.

But maybe if we start digging in Montana, we just might get our national dignity back - and even save our economy.

"We've been drilling out there for 70 years," said Schweitzer of the Bakken area. "People there like new oil production. In fact, the city of Sydney [the county seat] wants to build a refinery. Where else in America do you have a community that says, 'we want to build a refinery in our backyard?' "

Schweitzer, an agronomist with an advanced degree in soil science, has a picture on his office wall of his grandfather operating a one-man refinery.

If you let him - and I did - Schweitzer will explain how oil deposits come to be formed over millions of years. He also explains how the Bakken contains so-called oil shale, which means that the crude needs to be flushed out of tight rock formations.

With improved technology today and higher prices, this recovery method is now very feasible.

"And the nice thing," Schweitzer said, "is it's one drill hole per section." For you city slickers, a "section" is a huge 640 acres.

By comparison, Saudi Arabia has the largest known oil reserves at 260 billion barrels.

john.crudele@nypost.com