The world's remaining oil reserves and whether the oil supplies are adequate is discussed. Several years ago, Peak Oil was anticipated to occur in the very near future and a serious oil shortage would then develop.
In 1956, geophysicist Dr. M. King Hubbert of Shell Oil made a prediction for which he was ridiculed. He predicted that US oil production would peak in 1970. Among the oil experts, this was considered another "chicken little" prediction similar to others that had been made over the years. These same experts were startled in 1970 when oil production in the US did peak and then began a steady decline.
Hubbert is now deceased but recently, a disciple of Hubbert, petroleum geologist, Kennith Deffeyes, made an even more startling prediction that world Peak Oil production would occur on Thanksgiving Day 2005! This time the experts didn't laugh. Thanksgiving Day, 2005 has now long past and it does not appear that Peak Oil occurred on the predicted day.
Now, it appears that Peak Oil is not going to occur any time in the near future and probably won't occur for decades
The reasons for the delay in the arrival of Peak Oil will only be discussed briefly herein. The success in mining Canadian oil sands certainly played a role in the delay. But probably, development of oil and natural gas-containingshale formations Bakken deserve most credit for the delay.)
But Peak Oil and an energy crisis are inching closer so be ready! Recent advances in alternative fuel technology for oil sands, solar energy, wind energy, and the new giant field discovered recently off Brazil's coast, gives one hope that, if we can just hold off Peak Oil for another few years, we may be able to mitigate, somewhat, the impact when it does occur - See Alternative Energy Sources, LNG - Liquefied Natural Gas, and Hybrid Car for more information.
Hubbert's Law states that Peak Oil production from a field occurs when one-half of the oil has been removed. When about one-half the oil on earth has been produced, total production will begin to fall. This will produce serious economic complications which will greatly impact mankind in general.
This web page reviews the few options the U.S. and the world have for coping with the likely eventual severe shortage of oil.
The EIA expects OPEC oil production to double to keep pace with demand. Who are they kidding? It just isn't going to happen! Discoveries of "giant" oil deposits seldom happens anymore (although the recent strikes in the Bakken Shale Formation, and offshore Brazil were impressive). Worldwide, the oil discovery rate peaked in 1964 and world oil production is expected to peak in the near future.
U.S. oil production peaked in 1970 and has declined since, Russian production temporarily peaked in 1987 and has been on a sort of up and down plateau since. Great Britain North Sea production has peaked and is forecast to decline rapidly. Norwegian North Sea production is approaching a peak.
The only major oil-producing countries where production has not yet peaked are some of the OPEC nations. However, twenty or thirty years from now, OPEC production will likely be on a downward slope from which there is no return. .
The last verified "giant" discovery of conventional oil was made in 1976 (Cantrell field in Mexico, the world's second largest oil producer, and that field has now reached peak production and has begun to decline at a fast rate). Formerly, "large" discoveries could be counted in the dozens per year. By 2002, the large-field discovery rate was down to three in that year. In 2003, there were no large-field discoveries.
So, don't hold your breath waiting for giant oil fields to be discovered although the Bakken Formation field of North Dakota and the large oil field just discovered offshore Brazil are candidates to be classified as "giant oil fields" if the reports of oil reserves in the fields are verified. .
With all its publicity, many think ANWR (North Slope of Alaska) is a giant oil field. It is likely not! Those in the know in the oil patch call it a "baby pool."
Although the discovery of giant conventional fields of oil has become rare, development of new technology has opened up the dense shale formations for development and discoveries of some giant oil reservoirs in the shale formations are likely to occur. Similarily, the recovery of natural gas from shale formations has virtually revolutionized the natural gas industry and experts no longer speak of a natural gas shortage. In regard to oil, the Bakken shale formation is now under rapid development and the oil produced is of excellent quality. The Bakken formation is estimated to hold anywhere from 4 billion to 500 billion barrels of oil.
Sure, the Bakken formation is big but are oil-containing dense shale formations as plentiful as the gas-containing formations of which at least 22 have been found in the US so far. Investigation of the shale formations is only a few years old so we will know more later.
Amazing! Five years ago, the oil companies refused to seriously consider the shale formations. Now they eagerly seek them out!.
US Oil Production is presently declining by about 2 % per year and former Vice-President Cheney has predicted a 3 % per year decline in world oil production. The CEO of Slumberger estimated some time ago that an 8% decline per year in world oil production may be more realistic.
The recent development of the huge oil-containing Bakken shale Formation of North Dakota will slow the drop in US production some but we have to face the possibility of an oil shortage in the future.
California contains one-fifth of America's remaining conventional oil reserves (Why didn't former Governor Swartznegger quit squawking about fuel prices and get some drilling going - or maybe he didn't believe in the free market system?)
Forbidden Offshore Drilling. Much of the US remaining oil reserves are contained in the Federal offshore waters and drilling is forbidden there in some states. For example, Florida offshore may contain substantial deposits of oil and gas, but drilling in most areas is forbidden. In my own state of Louisiana, drilling is wide open and the devastated coastal wetlands after the BP oil spill are the results. Louisiana is doing its share to ensure an adequate energy supply and is paying a heavy price.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, may have exaggerated the size of the country's huge reserves, according to some oil experts, and soon may be facing the exhaustion of some of its major producing fields.
Saudi Arabia denies they have exaggerated the size of the country's reserves. The Saudis claim the oil is there and they will find it when it is needed.
Who is telling the truth about the oil reserves? Everyone has an agenda to estimate either high or low reserves.
China has substantial reserves of oil but not enough to supply her present rate of economic growth. She will increasingly compete with the U.S. for the available oil supply. Indeed, China is now competing with the U.S. for the Canadian oil sands oil.
China has huge deposits of coal but environmental problems will be severe if she has to increase coal consumption.
India has only small deposits of oil and, like China, a healthy rate of economic growth (also, like China, a billion plus population). India must import much of its fuel supply to survive.
Iraq has enormous oil reserves that may rival those of Saudi Arabia. Eventually, their oil reserves will be fully developed and the resulting supply available to the U.S. but that could be years in the future.
Iran, one of former President Bush's "axis of evil" states, has large reserves of oil and enormous deposits of Natural Gas. The Iranian natural gas could become an increasing factor in the energy mix as LNG terminals are built in the natural gas-poor countries. (See Natural Gas - The Abundant Fuel.)
Venezuela has large reserves of oil of varying quality and is a major supplier to the U.S.
It should be noted that Venezuela, in addition to having large conventional crude oil reserves, has large deposits of tar sands (similar to but lower quality than the oil sands of Canada.) The U.S. could eventually provide the technology for development of the tar sands.
For more on Venezuela, see Next War & Future Wars.
Caspian Sea Oil Deposits are said to be very large but of varying quality. Efforts to get things rolling there have not been as successful as some experts first thought. However, at least some of our future supply will come from the Caspian Sea.
African oil production continues to expand and much of the U.S. oil now comes from there. However, Africa is presently politically unstable! Can we depend on them?
There is good news from offshore Brazil where huge new oil discoveries have been reported. There appears to be a great deal of oil off the Brazilian coast and the state-run Petrobras is doing a great job finding it! Oil from Brazil will no doubt be available to us.
A report of a 5 - 25 billion barrel high-quality oil strike offshore from Cuba is making the rounds. Even if true, this oil is unlikely to be available to the U.S. since our relations with Cuba are so poor.
1. Oil & Energy Crisis. Peak Oil is on the way! An energy crisis is developing! Get ready to rumble!
The cheap oil age with its massive consumption of oil may be about ended! World oil production is approaching a peak as individual producing countries, one-by-one, reach peak oil production. From this point on, oil demand will exceed supply and oil shortages may develop.
Last Updated: 02/09/13