Monday, May 12, 2008

The Truth about Oil

Jim found this article.

Some clipped sections:

A recent survey on the environment found that seventy percent of people worldwide think that the planet is running out oil. Only less than one quarter believe that there is enough of it to keep it as a primary source of energy. Petro pessimism runs especially high in the United States where a full two thirds think that the point of depletion is within sight.

Here are some hard facts.

According the Energy Information Administration as of January 2007 there was more than 1.3 trillion barrels of proved crude oil on earth. Even if this were all the oil on the planet there would be no immediate danger of shortages, because at the current rate of consumption – roughly 85 million barrels a day – this supply would last for more than 40 years.

A recent survey on the environment found that seventy percent of people worldwide think that the planet is running out oil. Only less than one quarter believe that there is enough of it to keep it as a primary source of energy. Petro pessimism runs especially high in the United States where a full two thirds think that the point of depletion is within sight.

Here are some hard facts.

According the Energy Information Administration as of January 2007 there was more than 1.3 trillion barrels of proved crude oil on earth. Even if this were all the oil on the planet there would be no immediate danger of shortages, because at the current rate of consumption – roughly 85 million barrels a day – this supply would last for more than 40 years.

and
But there is more to the story. So far we have only been considering crude oil, but crude is not the sole source of this strategic commodity. There are far greater amounts of it locked in other materials such as shale, coal and tar sands.

Proven technologies exist to obtain oil from these resources but they have not yet been widely exploited, because until quite recently the extraction costs – ranging from $40 to $90 per barrel – exceeded the market price. The currently high and rising prices, however, are quickly turning these methods into potentially profitable ventures.

With many companies positioning themselves to take advantage of the opportunity, we are witnessing the birth of a giant industry and one that might eventually eclipse that in crude oil.
This is because the estimated global deposits of recoverable shale oil alone exceed three trillion barrels. This is more than twice the world’s current crude oil reserves.

and

All this should make one thing amply clear – there is enough oil to go around for a very long time. Even on conservative assumptions – accelerating consumption and few new discoveries – earth’s oil supplies should last for at least a century.

This, however, is the worst case scenario. We can be reasonably certain that new exploration and advancing technologies will in coming years greatly add to the quantities of available oil. So much so that Morris Adelman, Professor Emeritus in Economics at Harvard, has argued that the ‘amount of oil available to the market over the next 25 to 50 years is for all intents and purposes infinite.’

The notion that this planet is running out of oil is one of the great misnomers of our age. There is more oil available today than there was a hundred, fifty or ten years ago. And there is every indication that this trend will continue into the future. Instead of lamenting that we are running out of it, it would be far more accurate to say that we are constantly bumping into new oil. This is why two years ago the Economist headlined an article on the topic The Bottomless Beer Mug.

The general public, however, is largely ignorant of these facts. The divergence between the conventional wisdom and reality could hardly be any wider. Profoundly misinformed and alarmed, people place false hopes in misguided alternatives. Rather than implementing harmful, inefficient and expensive substitutes, we should insist that our government lift the obstacles which prevent us from availing ourselves of this superabundant resource.

1 comment:

Holly said...

Thanks, Jim and Annette, for the link. I'm going to put it in my tags on my sidebar.

Glad that Justin is beginning to feel better. CUTE pictures! :)