It would appear we started with 6.5 Tbl of conventional oil buried under the surface of our planet (called oil in place). We have consumed just over 1 Tbl. Most of the remaining deposits are in the Middle East, the southern hemisphere (examples include Brazil, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Libya), the Arctic and Siberia. Oil sands (tar sands) contain an estimated 1.8 Tbl of oil. Key areas of interest include Alaska, Alberta Canada, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union. Up to 4 Tbl of oil in shale exists. Most of the exploitable shale oil will come from the former USSR and the United States.
- Over 40 percent of potential conventional oil production will be from reservoirs below the surface of the ocean, or from fields located in areas that experience severe weather conditions (think ice and snow for much of the year). Furthermore, the physics of oil production guarantees that even when we find a good conventional oil reservoir, we will never recover 100 percent of the found oil (called the recovery factor). For example, although technology has improved the recovery rate, we currently recover less than 50% of the oil that is actually located in a conventional oil reservoir (sometimes far less).(Note 1)
- Oil production from sands or shales is expensive and relatively inefficient. Economically viable resources are limited, require the consumption of other valuable resources to process the liberated oil, and will encounter serious environmental constraints.
found, produced, transported, refined, and distributed without material disruption
at a price the consumer can afford to pay."
The second graph presents this information as a timeline for oil consumption as a sequence of events. Note that the dreaded “Peak Oil” will occur during our current consumption of 1.2 Tbl of oil. The decline of oil based fuels overlaps the peak oil timeline and the reduction of oil as a raw material for manufactured products. It would appear we will have consumed our 1.2 Tbl of accessible oil by 2045. Demand destruction will be a recognized fact of life.
Given the close relationship of population growth to energy consumption, the decline of the oil era will have a dramatically negative impact on humanity. Think increased famine, inflation, and unemployment accompanied by declining GDP in almost every nation. Think cultural chaos and multiple rebellions. Think frustration and anger that spills over into regional and international conflict. No government on this planet is prepared for what happens next.