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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.
Its a tough prospect to come to terms with, but the oil and gas that's being extracted from the ground may, one day (in the hopefully far off future) dry up. Many experts have made estimates as to how long our oil resources will last, some say less than fifty years others beyond a hundred, some even suggest if alternative fuels are harnessed in some revolutionary way the oil may never run out!

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.
The OPEC countries are believed to hold two thirds of all the worlds oil, although this may actually be what oil is proven to exist and much more lies waiting to be discovered. As it is they have a near-stranglehold on the worlds oil supply.

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.
Furthermore Iran may cause unstable oil prices by its locking horns with the USA and UK over the nuclear program they are currently engaged in, they are also producing at a reduced rate, but this may be because they are conserving their oil. Iraq is only producing a fraction of its potential as it has yet to recover fully from the 2003 invasion, sabotage and petroleum theft remains a problem.

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.

Alternative Fuels

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 Exploration

One 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.

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The Future of Oil


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