The other man who knows interesting things about oil deposits in the Arctic is Donald Gautier, who works for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Comparing similar areas helps determine possible amounts of oil in other parts of the world. So where are structures similar to those found in the Arctic region? "In the case of northeast Greenland, you can say, for example, that the area is very similar to western Norway and the northern part of the North Sea," says Gautier. Since there is already significantly more data on these analogous areas than for the Arctic, researchers can use this information for modeling:
A total of 17 surveyed sites promise significant finds. There could be up to 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the Arctic, representing 13 percent of the world's as yet undiscovered reserves.
Does 90 billion barrels sound like a lot? It is only 3 years worth of oil at the world's current burn rate. If that's 13% of the world's undiscovered oil then 692 barrels are waiting to be discovered and that's only 23 years at the current burn rate. But even if the world's current oil production rate could be maintained (and it can't) Westerners would see much less of that oil in coming years. The Chinese, with over 4 times the population of the United States, are now buying cars at a faster rate than Americans. China is setting up for a huge surge in oil demand growth. Currently China's oil consumption per capita is a tenth of US oil consumption per capita. The potential for demand growth in China is enormous. Also, India, with an even larger and more rapidly growing population is also industrializing. The $2500 Tata Nano is bringing car ownership within the reach of many more Indians and will help feed growing oil demand in India.
Even if the 90 billion barrel estimate for the Arctic is conservatively off by a factor of 2 or 3 it doesn't much change our problem with dwindling oil reserves. North American crude production peaked in 1985 and I do not expect Canadian and Alaskan Arctic oil production to enable a new North American oil production peak.
World oil discovery peaked in 1965, give or take a year. The consumption rate surpassed the discovery rate in 1981. High oil prices in recent years haven't caused discovery to approach the rate of consumption. We'd need a discovery rate higher than the current consumption rate to accommodate rising Asian demand while still maintaining Western consumption levels. Not going to happen. My advice: Make choices that will lower oil rate of oil consumption. Future high costs won't hit you as hard if you start adjusting now.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2009 September 20 12:34 PM Energy Fossil Fuels|