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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Monday, November 28, 2005

All the Oil

A lot of people talk about how much oil we use and how we are running out. Others point out strange occurances such as an ever increasing supply.

Most people tend to underestimate the size of the earth when talking about oil and how much we use. Consider this exercise:

From 1970 - 2005 the demand for oil in the United States went from 15 - 20 million per day or about an increase of 1% per year. If you extrapolate this from 2005 - 2105, we will use a total of 1.26 trillion barrels of oil over the next 100 years. A barrel of oil is 5.6 cubic feet, therefore, we will use 7.08 trillion cubic feet of oil over the next 100 years.

It sounds like a lot.

However, consider that a cubic mile = 147 billion cubic feet. Thus, all the oil that America will use in the next 100 years would fit in a space of only 48 cubic miles. It seems like a lot, but when you consider we are drilling down 6 miles for oil (the Earths crust is roughly 40 miles deep), the city of St. Paul would comprise over 300 cubic feet (52 sq miles x 6).

When you consider the entire surface of the earth (we also get oil from the ocean) you have 196,940,400 million square miles x 6 or 1.2 billion cubic miles. Of this amount, 48 square miles comprises less than .0000041% of the space in the earth that could hold oil.

Maybe this is all oversimplification, but .0000041% is a very small number. Have we really located all the oil?

If the volume of the Earth's atmosphere is more than 10 billion cubic miles, would burning 48 cubic miles of oil into it have any noticable effect?

UPDATE: Lake Superior holds 2900 Cubic miles of water. So all the oil we need for the next 100 years would take up 1.7% of Lake Superior ....

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Additionally, there is evidence that Mother Earth is actually producing more oil, that it's not a finite resource.

At any rate, we ARE finding and inventing new energy sources. This simply is not a crisis.

7:34 AM, November 29, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

I comend to you all the book "The next two hundred Years". Don't remember the authors but they were part of some big think tank back in the seventies during the "last" big "energy crisis". They state emphaticaly that there is more oil remaining to be discovered and developed than man has found since he began looking back in the mid nineteenth centruy. They point out that Australia, both on shore and off, sits on the same formation that gives the oil to Indonesia and Burma/Indochina. They predict that it holds more oil than the entire Middle East combined. As I recall they also point out that current methodes of recovery only get about seventeen percent of the avialable oil and that more efficent means are available but need to developed and deployed. Need drives inovation and all that is required is the need.
This is consistent with my experience in the Oil Patch. Much more can be done in recovery (about double, so like starting over again on the same wells) but it is cheaper to recover the easy stuff first. Maybe later the new techniques will be more cost effective. What is not a likely problem is simply running out. Also, we are at the begining of computer control of engines not the end, and their efficency will go up. Most estimates are in the area of fifty percent. That is a lot of extra gas. Much more can be done with coal as well, and we have a huge amount of that.

So, let us all wring our wrists untill they are raw! All together now, WRING!

11:15 AM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

By the way, Scribbler, the Earth is not your Mother!

11:17 AM, December 01, 2005  

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