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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SEatWtC Part 15: Crude Oil

Oil Producing Countries
Image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
Oil Producing Countries

Crude Oil

According to online sources, crude oil (petroleum) “is found in porous rock formations in the upper strata of some areas of the Earth's crust. There is also petroleum in oil sands (tar sands). Known reserves of petroleum are typically estimated at around 190 km3 (1.2 trillion (short scale) barrels) without oil sands, or 595 km3 (3.74 trillion barrels) with oil sands. Consumption is currently around 84 million barrels (13.4×106 m3) per day, or 4.9 km3 per year. Because the energy return over energy invested (EROEI) ratio of oil is constantly falling (due to physical phenomena such as residual oil saturation, and the economic factor of rising marginal extraction costs), recoverable oil reserves are significantly less than total oil in place. At current consumption levels, and assuming that oil will be consumed only from reservoirs, known recoverable reserves would be gone around 2039, potentially leading to a global energy crisis. However, there are factors which may extend or reduce this estimate, including the rapidly increasing demand for petroleum in China, India, and other developing nations; new discoveries; energy conservation and use of alternative energy sources; and new economically viable exploitation of non-conventional oil sources.” [9]

So the biggest issue with crude oil is that it seems it will run out. There are some opinions floating around out there that suggest that crude oil may be more renewable than we think, but even if crude oil is renewable, if we’re consuming it faster than it is being renewed then we will still run out. What’s even more concerning is that based on the Peak Oil theory, it looks like we may be running out of oil sooner than later.


Tune in tomorrow for Part 16 of SEatWtC!

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