A Scientist's Guide to Energy Independence: Oil
- Key facts
- It's a stretch, but imagine you're an Eskimo living 1,500 years ago
- Where does petroleum come from?
- How much energy does petroleum provide?
- How much petroleum is there, and how long will it last?
- Geography is against us
- Where might new oil reserves be found?
- Two unconventional sources of oil: oil shales and tar sands
- Growing worldwide competition for a dwindling resource
- If supplies are dwindling, why watch petroleum go up in smoke?
- Environmental effects of petroleum
- Petroleum exploration versus conservation of endangered species
- The bottom line
Figure 1.1 A modern oil-drilling ocean platform. Platform Holly, a few miles off the coast from Santa Barbara California, was installed in 1966 and has produced oil since.
(Source: Linda Krop, Environmental Defense Center, Santa Barbara, CA)
- Worldwide, people use about 30 billion barrels of oil a year, which works out to 210 gallons per person. The worldwide total is expected to increase to 50 billion barrels a year—350 gallons per man, woman, and child—in the next few decades.
- In 2005, the United States used 28% of all the oil consumed in the world.
- In recent years, the United States consumed about 7.5 billion barrels of petroleum a year, dropping to 7.1 billion barrels 2008 (23% of the world's total consumption). More than 60% is imported; 17% of that is from the Persian Gulf.
- Two-thirds of all transportation energy in the United States comes from petroleum—2.2 billion gallons a day: 55% of this for ground transport of people, almost 36% for ground transport of freight, and just under 10% for air transport of both people and freight.1
- According to conventional estimates, at the current rate of use Americans will run out of oil in less than 50 years.