The year 2011 marked the fifth time in recent history that has seen widespread fear that the world was running out of oil. The first time was in the 1880s, when oil production was concentrated in Pennsylvania and it was said that no oil would be found west of the Mississippi. Oil was then found in Texas and Oklahoma. Similar fears emerged after WWI and WWII. The reality is something quite different.
For example, since 1978, world oil output has increased by 30%. During the years 2007 to 2009, for every barrel of oil produced in the world, 1.6 barrels of new reserves were added. Since the start of the oil industry (during 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania), 1 trillion barrels have been produced. The estimated number of barrels currently considered technically and economically accessible is 1.4 trillion (note: it is believed that there are 5 trillion barrels of petroleum resources in the ground).
The U.S. currently produces about 5.5 million barrels per day. Recent discoveries in North Dakota could add another 2.0 million to U.S. production by 2020. North Dakota’s Bakken shale is expected to begin producing more oil than Alaska’s mammoth Pudhoe Bay field. Net imports of oil reached a high of 60% in 2005; today (2013) it is 42%, due to better energy efficiency, increased production and use of ethanol.
In the typical oil field, just 35-40% of the oil in place is produced using traditional methods. Some experts believe a “digital oil field” (using sensors throughout the field) could increase oil worldwide by another 125 billion barrels, almost the identical amount that Iraq is estimated to have. The world currently consumes roughly 92 million barrels per day, a figure that is expected to be 110 million by 2030.
Fracking: Oil Shale
In the past, oil companies would drill for oil and, if they were good, would find oil 4 out of 10 times. Today, once shale deposits are found, the companies know there is oil.