Future of Oil
As many already know, crude oil is a precious resource that drives the industrial world and society thrives on it in countless activities. Without petroleum the world at large would have to brace itself for a radically different quality of life to the one millions currently enjoy.
The OPEC Syndicate
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Counties or OPEC as it is better known hold
extensive oil reserves. As they export plentiful supplies to other countries a strong monopoly exists which allows them to influence the price of oil. Indeed in times of political turmoil and / or poor relations with other countries can see a drastic raising of oil prices. The OPEC countries are : Algeria, Angola, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
Riddling of the Figures...
Countries that produce the most like Saudi Arabia forecast that they have 'at least' enough oil to last over a hundred years, while this is a reassuring thing to hear some have criticised this as an overestimation. In their production strategy a system of oil field switching occurs if they cannot produce a set quota from a particular field. While this currently works well and has never failed, over half of Saudi Arabia's produced oil comes from just one, the Ghawar Field. Its been a stalwart so far and is the primary 'back-up' if oil runs short from the other fields. For the future it could change if the Ghawar field runs into problems. Also, amongst other reasons some experts have noted that the Saudi practise of overpumping sea water into the fields to aid extraction may be causing long term damage. A potentially thought-provoking fact is that since 1982 the Saudi Authorities have withheld data on their oil reserves. Thus giving no outsiders any actual indication on what they actually are. It is possible that 'Riddling of the Figures' is apparent, that is to say certain Middle Eastern states being over-optimistic on their oil reserves.
Oil Shortage Solutions
The Strategic Oil Reserve and Petrol Rationing
The Strategic Oil Reserve (SOR) is a government controlled oil reserve which, in times of economic emergency and disaster can be called upon to keep the flow of oil to the refinerys going. The USA maintains four mighty cavernous reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico. At full capacity over 700 million barrels worth of oil are stored there. Without any restrictions in place it could supply the entire USA with fuel for over a month. It is a stop-gap measure at best but better than nothing. In future years if oil supplies become erratic and scant, one short term solution could be that petrol is rationing to a countries citizens. Petrol could even become restricted entirely as a countries SOR is used to alleviate the shortage. Rising fuel prices could mean there will always be a supply of fuel but at a premium price. Some believe the portrayal of society in the film 'Mad Max' could become reality if the worlds oil supplies drop to minimal levels.
However to remain positive though it's entirely feasible that alternative fuels will take precedence over oil in the future. Nuclear power is a very powerful alternative to oil and even coal fired power stations. With advances in electrically powered cars continuing this could lead to a drop in the demand for oil. LPG (liquid Petroleum Gas)power is another alternative to petroleum that may take the bite out of oil demand. All the while a breakthrough in fusion power could see oil becoming redundant in the future.
Aggressive Oil ExplorationOne of the last frontiers of oil and gas exploration is in the arctic basins of Antarctica. Many academics and geologists agree that it is here that the last 25% of the worlds remaining resources is. Although the arctic basins are thought to be richer in natural gas than oil, many of the basins are unexplored and undeveloped. It is a difficult and challenging prospect though and even more hostile there than the North Sea. Additionally solutions to solve subsea pipelines freezing and remote supply of the platforms will be needed. Another obstacle is that many countries have made overlapping claims on regions of the Antarctica. So far no actual oil or gas prospecting has been carried out but survey results show great promise for this region.
As the global price of oil rises options such as this one will become much more economically viable to perform as the pay-off increases over the cost to extract in areas previously thought too pricey.