THE PETROLEUM ZONE
HOW MUCH PETROLEUM IS LEFT?
Worldwide, there is still quite a bit left, enough so that supply can exponentially increase to cope with demand at least up until 2020. In 2020, it is anticipated that non OPEC and OPEC nations will produce about 120 million barrels of oil per day. Compare that to today where about 75 million barrels of oil are produced today. Demand for oil is accelerating rapidly worldwide while supplies remain finite.
Oil is what is known as a fossil fuel. It is formed by plant matter
which was buried in the earth's crust millions of years ago as a result
of erosion and the geothermal movement of the Earth's surface. As
the plant matter became buried deeper in the ground, it was subjected to
immense amounts of pressure which squeezed the plant matter into pockets
of solid coal or liquid oil. Such pockets of oil usually have a space
above them filled with Natural Gas, which can also be used as a resource.
Basically, oil is a renewable resource but it takes millions of years to
form in the earth's crust. Also much of it forms at depths where
extraction becomes economically unfeasible (the energy put into removing
the petroleum would be greater than the energy provided by the extracted
petroleum). Thus, there are only so many barrels worth of petroleum
available worldwide, and it will take millions of years for nature to replace
the oil being used up now. The 1969 estimate by M.K. Hubbert estimated
the world oil supply to be at 1350 billion barrels of oil. More recent
estimates in 1993 placed the likely amount of economically recoverable
oil at 1792 billion barrels of oil.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Quite simply, the world is going to start running out of oil and really soon. Supply is rapidly dwindling yet more and more barrels of oil are being produced each day.
U.S. Petroleum production over the course of the years can be graphed in the shape of a bell curve. U.S. production actually reached its peak around 1970 with 3 billion barrels produced each year. Since then, numerous oil fields have dried up, and others have been opened (namely on the north slope of Alaska), but domestic oil supply continues to fall. Last year the number fell to around 2 billion barrels of oil produced, with only 113 billion barrels left. Following these numbers, the graph indicates that by the year 2060, U.S. oil reserves will be negligible and bordering on economically unfeasible for recovery.
As U.S. oil production dwindles, more and more need will be placed on foreign oil, mostly from the Middle East, a region torn by decades of political and economic instability. As demonstrated by the Gulf War, U.S. oil needs can and will lead to open warfare. It is most likely that a higher dependence on foreign oil will lead to further political and economic clashes between the U.S. and the Middle East as oil becomes more and more scarce. It also means that oil prices will probably skyrocket by the middle of the next century as petroleum becomes more and more rare. Rationing shall have to occur and present gasoline inefficient cars and trucks will be extremely expensive to use.
Generally, things are going to get unpleasant with oil supply and demand
continuing as it is.
WHY DO WE NEED PETROLEUM?
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE RUN OUT OF PETROLEUM?
by Mike Martinez, 2002