Peak Oil

By Deane Barker on October 17, 2005

Debate brews: Has oil production peaked?: Here’s an interesting feature about the eternal question: just how much oil do we have left, exactly? Answer: no one knows. But technology is helping us find more.

In the 1970s, for example, the deepest offshore wells were drilled in 600 feet of water. Today, a Chevron well in the Gulf of Mexico draws oil from 10,011 feet below the surface.

Widespread use of technologies such as remote sensing and automation in “digital oil fields” could boost global oil reserves by 125 billion barrels, CERA says. Already, advanced software and “down hole measurement” devices to track what’s happening in the well have elevated recovery rates in some North Sea fields to 60% from the industry average of 35%, Jackson says.

Technology also won’t stand still on the consumption side of the equation, Yergin says. “By 2025 or 2030, we’ll probably be moving around in vehicles quite different from the ones we drive today. Maybe we’ll be driving around in vehicles that get 110 miles to the gallon,” he says.

Of course, in my mind, the solution is not to find more oil, but to use less. No matter how much you find, it’s eventually going to run out, and there will be wars fought, sanctions imposed, and environments ruined in the pursuit of sucking everything dry.

I’m not a big tree hugger, but I so wish as much energy was thrown at the “how do we use less” question as is thrown at the “how do we find more” question.



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