The precise determination of petroleum reserves is a complex and inexact science posing a variety of problems for scientists attempting to evaluate even mature producing regions such as the United States, and Great Britain. In the case of the USSR, official estimates were simply unavailable. Still listed under the rigid provisions of the State Secrecy Act of 1947, the volume of petroleum reserves in Russia remains a state secret to this day. Any published evaluation of oil reserves must be based on an unofficial, or casual appraisal, of probable resources. As a general rule of thumb, these estimates have been calculated as ‘an analysis of resource exploitation within the Soviet Union and a projection of the likely oil potential of the sedimentary basins of the Soviet Union measured against the experience of comparable sedimentary basins elsewhere in the world’ (Goldman, 1980, p. 115). An excellent example of such an appraisal is provided in Elliot (1974). He states: In fact, the USSR claims 37 per cent of the earth’s potential oil-bearing areas. Working from estimates that the average density for the potential areas of the world is 16,400 tons of oil per square kilometer would give the USSR, with 11,900,000 sq. km. of oil-bearing territory, about 195,160 million tonnes of ultimate oil reserves. This compares well with figures for the ultimate reserves of the United States of around 100,000 million tons, although these are more densely contained, within an area of less than 5 million sq....
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