Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How long will this go on?

We're in trouble. And our government has been failing us for more than 50 years.

Are we running out of oil, as "peak oil" advocates would have us believe? Or do we not need to worry about it?

In December 2007, Brazil discovered billions in its Tupi field. In April 2008, Brazil discovered that its Carioca offshore oil field may hold up to 33 billion barrels. China last year made 10 major new energy discoveries.

Most estimates place the U.S. reserves (oil that we haven't pumped yet, but know is there) are about 30 billion barrels. This doesn't include some of the following:

In 2006 Chevron, Devon Energy and Norway's Statoil discovered a field with 15 billion barrels in the Gulf of Mexico. Other offshore sources hold as much as 10 billion barrels. The 2,000-acre site in ANWR has up to 16 billion barrels. The Bakken oil basin, stretching from North Dakota and Montana into Canada, has about 4 billion barrels. Colorado and Utah are estimated to contain as much as 1.2 trillion barrels of oil trapped in shale below the ground.
A 2005 U.S. Geological Survey reported that there remain some 3 trillion barrels worldwide yet to be pumped.

The numbers are so big that it's hard to put your mind around. So let's do that.

Let's say, for a moment, that the figure of 30 billion barrels of oil left in the U.S. is correct.

How long would that last if we used it all for our consumption of 20 million barrels a day?

We've got just over 4 years of oil left. Wow. We'd better get our bicyles out. I'll invest in some horses for sure.

Ignoring the shale oil for a moment, there is another estimated 45 billion barrels yet to be tapped in the U.S. That would add another 6.16 years. So we have just a little more than 10 years if we used all of our own oil.

If we just use our own oil to replace imports (about 14 million barrels a day), we get just over 14 years before we run out.

Looks pretty bleak, huh?

Add the 1.2 trillion in shale oil, and we get a little breather. This would last us 164 years if we used it for all of our needs, and 235 years to replace our imports. Of course, we would not be importing after a century, because the rest of the world will have run out.

At the current consumption rate of 80 million barrels per day worldwide, we have 104 years before everyone runs out.

So what is the solution to our energy needs? Obviously, we need oil now. So we better get busy, because the downside to not using our own resources is this: every day we send (at today's price of $126 per barrel) some $1.7 billion to other countries, most of who are not very friendly to us. Better to keep those dollars at home, don't you think?

We certainly need to find some viable alternatives. So we better get to work. Nuclear energy, natural gas, hydrogen power, solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal are all sources to tap. Continued research into fusion is absolutely necessary.

We do not have to ride horses again. But a sane, well-though-out, and continuous energy program is needed. Our government has been failing us for more than 40 years. How long will we let this go on?


TXsharon said...

We need to get off the hydrocarbons ASAP--too damaging to our environment.

Steve said...

Do you have any suggestions on how to do this, or is this just a talking point?