Skip to comments.The end of the age of oil?
Posted on 11/26/2004 8:52:56 AM PST by tvn
According the Washington Post (June 6, 2004) , the world is on the verge of oil famine.
BBC News declares "as certain as death and taxes, we shall one day be forced to learn to live without oil." Further, "people in middle age today can probably expect to be here" for the terminal oil shortages.
CBS, NBC and ABC have all presented grim and frightening reports of rapacious oil executives, unfeeling consumers, gas-guzzling SUVs and declining oil stocks, mostly in the powder keg countries of the Middle East. The unmistakable conclusion: An energy disaster of epic proportions is just around the corner.
Literally dozens of books and hundreds of websites paint a consistent and alarming picture of the decline of the American Empire and the end of the Age of Oil.
Could this be true? Are we really sliding downhill into a future defined by scarce resources, alternative fuels and mandatory conservation a nightmare of strong governmental controls and diminished expectations?
The surprising answer: No.
The world has plenty of oil.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Energy and many, many other reputable sources, we have sufficient oil resources for at least the next several hundred years, maybe longer. The costs of extraction will likely be higher, but scarcity? No.
Without the emotional "the end of the world as we know it," paranoia from the traditional media, let's actually look at world oil reserves.
Currently, the world's recognized reserves of oil are higher than at any time in history. And, contrary to conventional media hysteria, the world's clearly identified reserves are growing every year. The USGS reports in the "World Petroleum Assessment 2000" that world reserves of conventional crude oil total 3,000 billion barrels. This estimate is an increase from a similar estimate in 1994 of 2,400 billion barrels, up from 1,500 billion barrels in 1990.
But this report considers only "liquid" or conventional oil oil that's accessible and readily available from underground reservoirs. This does not include highly viscous oils, oil-tar sand deposits or oil shale.
The major media focuses with myopic intensity on conventional crude reserves, ignoring stunning reserves of oil located in tar sands and oil shale. At best, this is difficult to comprehend.
For example, little media attention was accorded to the dramatic increases in Canadian oil reserves. A December 2003 report in Oil and Gas Journal notes that Canada's oil reserves now total more than 180 billion barrels of oil, with most found in economically recoverably oil-tar sand deposits. In contrast, Saudi Arabia's reserves are estimated at 264 billion barrels.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers sees the oil sand reservoir at a stunning 2,000 billion barrels of crude, of which 315 billion barrels is currently recoverable. This is oil economically viable at prices between $18 and $20 per barrel. World wide, recoverable reserves of oil found in oil sands are currently reported in excess of 1,000 billion barrels.
But by far the largest potential reservoir of future oil is held in oil shale.
The U.S. Department of Energy, in a March 2004 study, reports oil shale reserves in the United States alone of over 2,000 billion barrels. World wide, oil-shale reserves are estimated as high as 14,000 billion barrels.
To put this in perspective, U.S. oil-shale reserves alone would be sufficient to provide 100 percent of U.S. crude oil consumed at current usage for over 200 years.
Worldwide reserves of 14,000 billion barrels are sufficient to provide the world's crude oil requirements for at least several hundred years.
The truth is, the history of oil prognostication is littered with scaremongers proclaiming false declarations of approaching oil famine. In fact, doom merchants have used oil as a vehicle for "end of the world" scenarios since before World War I. Consider:
* In 1914, the U.S. Bureau of Mines declared that the United States would run out of oil in 10 years.
* In 1939, the Department of the Interior predicted that oil reserves would last only 13 more years.
* In 1950, when the world's estimated reserves were thought to be 600 billion barrels, the Department of Interior again projected the end of the age of oil by 1963.
* Move forward to the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which prompted the highly respected journal Foreign Affairs to publish an article on "The Oil Crisis: This Time the Wolf is Here."
* In 1981, a respected textbook on economic geology predicted that the United States was entering a 125-year-long energy gap, expected to be at its worst in the year 2000 with dire consequences to our standard of living.
* In 1995, a prominent geologist predicted that petroleum production would peak in 1996 and that after 1999 many of the developed world's societies would look like Third World countries.
* In 1998, a Scientific American article titled "End of the Age of Oil" predicted that world oil production would peak in 2002 and that we would soon face the "end of the abundant and cheap oil on which all nations depend."
All of these predictions were wrong. In fact, from 1950 to the present, the world's recognized oil reserves have increased virtually every year.
The current USGS world estimate of 3,000 billion barrels of conventional crude is probably conservative. Consider Iraq. Only 2,300 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with over 1 million wells drilled in Texas. Furthermore, only 22 of the more than 80 major Iraqi oil fields have been fully explored.
Iraq is reported to have 112 billion barrels of oil reserves. But based on unexplored reserves, many geologists believe that actual number is more than twice current estimates.
Even North American reserves of conventional oil are probably understated since recent deep oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has identified a huge vat of oil. President Fox has stated that the new reserves may be as large as 56 billion barrels. Deep oil wells are drilled to 25,000 feet below ground surface and represent a new frontier in oil exploration.
A classic example of oil reserve understatement is the Kern River field in California, where production wells were first drilled in 1899. By 1942, after 43 years of continuous pumping, remaining Kern River oil was estimated at 54 million barrels. Pumping continued, and over the next 50 years, the field produced over 736 million barrels. In 1986, using 3D mapping technology, the reservoir was reported to contain an additional reserve of over 970 million barrels.
Eventually the world will move from an oil-based economy to something better. But given the huge reserves of world oil, it's likely that technology will drive this change, not scarcity.
---Iran will lead the way to a non-oil economy with its nuclear program--(sarcasm)
Its true that we will not run out of Oil, yet the world will become virtually dependent on OPEC and the Former Soviet Republic.
A national effort to implement this process and the "Oil Problem" goes away.
BTW our Toastmasters Club meets at the local Solid Waste and Recycling offices and the Director is a club member. I apprised him of this technology and he is looking into it!
Nothing would make me happier than ending our dependence on middle eastern oil. Let them go back to being small roving bands who kill each other in fights over what little water they can scrape out of the sand.
It took a crisis in the availability of whale oil for lamps to encourage the technology that led to the use of cheap kerosene derived from petroleum as a substitute.
This is have never understood. I mean, if oil came from dinosaurs (plus any other pre-historic plant or animal) and these creatures lived -- and died -- for about 100+ million years, and if only a tiny % of them did convert into oil, how can mankind use up all this oil in what? 200 years? 250?
And remember, for the greater part of those past few centuries we're not even talking about all of mankind, only that small % in industralized nations.
Not if the enviro-whackos get out of the way and allow us to extract oil from our own vast reserves.
I followed that story about Changing World Technologies and the related one about the Con Agra (Butterball) turkey waste recyling plant. But no updates, not even on their web site.
Is it economically unfeasible ?
World-class contrarian Thomas Gold has a theory about life on the planet: It's pumping out of the Earth's crust - and it's swimming in oil.
Since the oil crisis of the 1970s, Gold has been saying that the Earth is hugely well endowed with these hydrocarbons - hundreds of times more so than most geologists, or oil companies, or OPEC leaders believe. The general belief in scarcity that drives up gas prices and causes fears of inflation, Gold argues, is a mirage that has served vested interests among oil producers for decades.
Not if we GET the enviro-whackos out of the way -- they won't be going away voluntarily any time soon, true?
We dont have enough reserves.
Now that I'm older and wiser, I know better than to fall for this scam yet again.
I also know enough about the laws of supply and demand in a capitalist society to know that even if we do start running out of fossil fuels, civilization will not end as we know it. Instead, alternative sources of energy will developed and put into use long before the last drop of oil is extracted from the ground.
Whenever you are confronted by a panicked liberal over the "looming energy crisis", all you need to remember is the following two phrases: "Supply and demand" and "economies of scale."
So long as oil is plentiful and less expensive than other sources of energy, it will continue to be used as our primary energy source - at the expense of other, more expensive, alternative sources of energy.
As soon as alternative sources of energy are developed that are CHEAPER than oil, you will see a very rapid changeover to those energy sources. We actually have these alternative energy sources being developed now but so long as oil remains plentiful and cheaper, those alternative energy sources are going to be slow to be adopted.
Once the price of oil exceeds the cost of these alternative energy sources - BANG! We will see an explosion in R&D and within a few years, everybody will be driving around in hydrogen powered cars (or whatever is developed) and the economies of scale will bring the price of these products down even more.
bump to read later.
Correct, we won't run out, but the price will go up. Most of the crude oil reserves are in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Africa. Next in ease of extraction is the Orinoco tar belt in Venezuela. Then the Athabascan tar sands. There may be other tar belts and tar sands. After that, it is on to coal reserves, of which the US and China have a major share.
However, in the interim, there is a huge foreign trade drain on the US to import energy supplies. We've been exporting debt and importing oil, but that is likely to stop soon as the dollar falls.
Merciless, "Fuhrer" [1920-1960] of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)
"...Lewis was a despotic leader of the Mine Workers: he expelled his political rivals within the UMWA...and bullied those whom he did not drive out.... A powerful speaker and strategist, Lewis used the nation's dependence on coal to ...masterminded a five-month strike...even during several severe recessions...." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_L._Lewis)
The end result being that businesses, depended on coal, told Lewis and the UMWA, in effect, " *&^%*#@ you!" and any-and-all who possibly could switched over to oil as their source of energy.
Needless to say, to many, many liberals this man is a god.
By the time we run out of oil, the oceans will be full of sperm whales again.
>>> Its true that we will not run out of Oil, yet the world will become virtually dependent on OPEC and the Former Soviet Republic. <<<<<<<
Is this supposed to be a prediction that Canada will be conquered by the Saudis or the Russians?
The article did not even mention the reserves in the methane hydrates - larger than both coal and oil.
There will be no shortage. Nutty to predict it.
YEah, Im talking about Oil. Canada can not increase gas production beyond the current level.
--although I bow to no one in my loathing of John L. Lewis' tactics, he has had a lot of help recently from the "environmental" extremists and their allies, both willing and the ignorant--
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