Oil: For Every Barrel Consumed, Two Are Discovered

“For every barrel of oil consumed over the past 35 years, two new barrels have been discovered.” In other words, technology has increased the available oil despite the fact that humans have been using it at an increasing rate for over a century. For the past 15 or so years, fracking (and directional drilling) is the main reason that proved reserves have increased. __ https://www.e-education.psu.edu/emsc240/node/527

Peak Oil Armageddon is postponed, as global oil reserves keep rising.

Figure 3.14: Global proved reserves and consumption since 1980. Note that the annual oil use has increased steadily, but so have the proved reserves. Note also that the consumption is in thousands of barrels per year (right axis), and proved reserves is in billions of barrels (left axis). These are the most recent data available as of August 2018.

Most New Oil Production Will Come From US

Since 2014, we have been constantly inundated with predictions of “the end of shale.” But the opposite has happened instead. US shale will provide over 60% of all new oil production for the world, over the next decade, according to the IEA and Rystad Energy.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency reported in November that the U.S. will supply 85% of the new oil and 30% of the new gas through 2030.

… when looking at the individual U.S. state level, the ongoing rise of our shale oil and gas output is staggering. All presidential candidates should think about this: in the 2020s, the state of Ohio alone is expected to add as much oil and gas to global supply as Russia (see Figure below). This is our greatest geopolitical leverage and not-so-secret weapon: shale not only made us the world’s largest oil and gas producer but will make us the largest seller in just a few years. Next year, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that we will become a net exporter of oil on an annual basis for the first time ever. __ https://www.forbes.com/sites/judeclemente/2019/12/08/the-us-dominates-new-oil-and-gas-production/#6c11c1951cce

Drilling into unconventional sources like oil and gas shale is quite different, more like tiramisu – the petroleum is in many layers that have to be individually tapped using horizontal drilling and fracking methods to open up the rock.
Saudi Arabia has a bunch of really big jelly donuts. The United States has lots of tiramisu, plus some pretty good jelly donuts as well. But we keep finding more tiramisu.

We were told that US oil production had peaked in 1970. After that, reserves were supposed to be rapidly depleted. US oil would soon be finished, according to peak oil prophets. But both conventional offshore (Gulf of Mexico) and unconventional (shale) oil production in the US are ramping up.

The previous U.S. record of 9.6 million b/d was set in 1970.13 Production was just 9.4 million b/d in 2017 but rose to 10.9 million b/d in 2018. The EIA projects it will increase to 13 million b/d in 2020.

The U.S. oil industry has increased the supply slowly, supporting prices high enough to pay for exploration costs. Many shale oil producers have become more efficient at extracting oil. They’ve found ways to keep wells open, saving them the cost of capping them.

At the same time, massive oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico began producing in large quantities.14 They couldn’t stop production regardless of low oil prices. As a result, large traditional oil enterprises stopped exploring new reserves. These companies include ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Royal Dutch Shell. It was cheaper for them to buy out shale oil companies.15

In 2019, production from West Texas will increase by 2 million barrels a day.16 U.S. companies have drilled 114,000 wells, many of which are profitable at $30 a barrel.
__ https://www.thebalance.com/oil-price-forecast-3306219

The only way to spin a tale of doom from this would be to convince the gullibles of the world that more oil & gas is a bad thing, rather than something that will feed more people, keep more people warm in winter, and provide cooking fuel and electricity so that humans will burn less wood and coal.

The climate apocalypse crusade has sidetracked a lot of well-intended but less clear-headed persons into forgetting about human welfare, and being worried about GIGO computer models instead.

Long-Term Future Demands Nuclear Power

Look at the energy density figures below, and consider how humans might maintain an advanced civilisation for over ten billion people, for the next few thousand years:

Energy Density Comparison from Wikipedia
Fusion, Fission Orders of Magnitude Better than Chemical and Other Energy Sources

With more advanced nuclear fission reactors, Earth has enough uranium and thorium to last for a hundred thousand years or more. With advanced nuclear fusion, the fuel will last until the sun makes the planet uninhabitable.

There is nothing special about oil & gas, except that they work when called upon — unlike the intermittent “renewables.” Because they are reliable sources of heat and power, oil & gas have allowed advanced societies to develop, grow, and innovate. Coal was a big part of that development, but coal is dirtier than oil & gas. If advanced human societies do not develop advanced nuclear technologies for the millenia ahead, coal will see a resurgence. This return to coal has already happened in modern Germany, when the virtually landlocked country turned away from nuclear power out of a fear of tsunamis.

More: Global economic forecasts for slow growth suggest that the oil supplies will be adequate for between 10 and 30 more years, without heroic expenditure on new oil discovery. The huge 40 year China bender is tapering off and will leave one hell of a hangover!

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3 Responses to Oil: For Every Barrel Consumed, Two Are Discovered

  1. Someone says:

    I have to wonder what Matt Simmons would be saying if he were still around.

    I also found an article the other day about gas production from pig crap and leftover animal parts from processing. We really should be running things on natural gas if not nuclear instead of more waste for solar panels and wind turbines.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Wind and solar at grid scale are part of a religio-political ideology. Scientifically and economically they don’t help but rather make the system less stable and drive a significant number of people into poverty. But they do make a very few people wealthy, who happen to be very well connected politically.

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