The World is Running Out of Oil
1. Is the world running out of oil?
The world has been running out of oil for the last forty years. Every year, we use more oil than is produced, and every year, the amount of oil in storage gets a little bit smaller. The question is not whether the world is running out of oil, but when we will reach the point where there is not enough oil to meet demand.
There are two factors that determine when the world will run out of oil. The first is how much oil is left in the ground, and the second is how much demand there is for oil.
The amount of oil in the ground depends on two things: how much has been found so far, and how much there is still to be found. We know how much has been found because companies have been exploration for oil since the 1850s. We also know how much there is still to be found because geologists have a pretty good understanding of where oil is likely to be found. Based on these two factors, it is estimated that there are about 1 trillion barrels of oil left in the ground, including both conventional oil and unconventional sources such as tar sands and shale oil.
The amount of demand for oil depends on two things: how many people there are in the world, and how much each person uses. The world’s population is growing slowly but steadily, and it is currently around 7 billion people. Each person uses different amounts of oil depending on their lifestyle and where they live. In developed countries like the United States, each person uses an average of about 20 barrels of oil per year. In developing countries like China, each person uses an average of about 4 barrels per year.
Based on these two factors, it is estimated that the world will reach peak oil production sometime between 2020 and 2030. This means that at some point in the next decade, we will be producing less than 10 million barrels per day. After that, production will decline until it eventually reaches zero.
The consequences of this are difficult to predict, but they could be severe. Oil is essential for transportation, agriculture, and many other industries. A sudden decrease in supply could lead to widespread shortages and sharply higher prices. This could cause economic recession or even collapse.
There are two possible ways to avoid this scenario. The first is to find new sources of oil. The second is to use less oil.
2. New technology and oil production
New technology has made it possible to extract oil from places that were previously inaccessible or uneconomic. This has increased the amount of known reserves and extended the life of existing fields. It has also made it possible to develop unconventional sources such as tar sands and shale oil.
The most important new technology for oil production is horizontal drilling. This involves drilling a well horizontally rather than vertically. Horizontal drilling was first used in 1947, but it was not widely adopted until the 1990s when advances in drill bit design made it more efficient and reliable. Horizontal drilling has increased the recovery factor (the percentage of recoverable reserves) from about 20% to 60%. This means that a horizontal well can produce three times as much oil as a vertical well from the same amount of reservoir rock.
Horizontal drilling has made it possible to develop previously uneconomic oil resources. It has also increased the production from existing fields, sometimes by as much as 50%. This has helped to offset the decline in production from older fields.
3. The Hubert Model
The Hubert model is a mathematical model that is used to predict the timing of peak oil production. It was developed by Louis-François Hubert in the 1970s.
The model is based on the observation that oil production typically follows a U-shaped curve. Production starts at zero, then increases until it reaches a peak, after which it declines until it eventually reaches zero again.
The model predicts that the peak of production will occur when about half of the known reserves have been extracted. This is because the rate of increase in production slows down as reserves are depleted and becomes negative when about half of the reserves have been extracted.
The model has been criticised for being too simplistic and for overestimating the size of known reserves. However, it is still widely used because it provides a simple way to estimate when peak oil production will occur.
4. The Bradley Curves
The Bradley curves are a series of curves that show how oil production varies with time in relation to the size of the remaining reserves. They were developed by Richard Bradley in the 1980s.
The curves are based on the observation that oilfields tend to follow a pattern of growth and decline. Production starts at zero and then increases rapidly as more and more wells are drilled. This phase of growth is known as the exponential phase. It is followed by a phase of slower growth known as the logarithmic phase. After that, production declines rapidly as the reservoir is depleted. This phase of decline is known as the exponential phase. Finally, production declines more slowly as fewer and fewer wells are productive. This phase is known as the logarithmic phase.
The Bradley curves can be used to estimate when peak oil production will occur in a given field or region. They can also be used to estimate how much oil will be produced in each phase of decline.
5. Functional theory
Functional theory is a sociological theory that attempts to explain why some societies are more successful than others. It was first proposed by Talcott Parsons in the 1950s.
Functional theory argues that societies are like organisms, and they need to have certain functions in order to survive and thrive. These functions include food production, trade, transportation, communication, and so on. A society that cannot perform these functions will not be able to survive in the long term.
Functional theory has been used to explain why some societies are more successful than others. For example, Parsons argued that Western societies are more successful than Eastern societies because they have developed better ways of performing the functions that are necessary for survival. Other sociologists have argued that capitalist societies are more successful than socialist societies because they are better able to motivate people to work hard and innovatively.
Functional theory can also be used to explain why some societies collapse while others do not. For example, sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein has argued that societies collapse when they can no longer perform the functions that are necessary for their survival. He argues that this is what happened to the Soviet Union and other socialist states in Eastern Europe in the 1990s.
6. Erich Zimmerman and the problem of oil shale
Erich Zimmermann was a German geologist who first proposed the existence of oil shale in the early 20th century. Oil shale is a type of rock that contains a high percentage of organic matter. This organic matter can be converted into oil, but the process is very energy-intensive and currently uneconomic.
Zimmermann argued that oil shale could be an important source of oil in the future. He believed that it would become economic when the price of oil was high enough. He also believed that it could be an important source of oil for countries that did not have their own reserves, such as Germany.
However, Zimmermann’s ideas were not accepted at the time. It was not until the 1970s that oil shale began to be developed on a large scale, and even then it was only in a few countries, such as the United States and China. Oil shale remains a largely undeveloped resource today.
7. Canada and the US: Oil shale and tar sands
Oil shale and tar sands are two types of unconventional oil resources that are found in large quantities in Canada and the United States. Oil shale is a type of rock that contains a high percentage of organic matter. This organic matter can be converted into oil, but the process is very energy-intensive and currently uneconomic. Tar sands are a type of sandstone that contains a high percentage of bitumen. Bitumen is a type of heavy crude oil that can be extracted and refined to produce transportation fuels.
Both oil shale and tar sands are currently being developed on a large scale in Canada and the United States. The development of these resources has led to a significant increase in production, and they are now the largest source of crude oil in North America.
The world is running out of oil, and this could have severe consequences for the economy and society. New technology has made it possible to extract oil from previously inaccessible or uneconomic places, but it is not clear whether this will be enough to offset the decline in production from existing fields. The most likely scenario is that the world will reach peak oil production sometime between 2020 and 2030, after which production will decline until it eventually reaches zero.