Despite War With Iraq, Oil Should Be Plentiful

Much More Oil Underground than We've Already Used, says NCPA

DALLAS (February 3, 2003) -- Despite claims that war could disrupt global oil markets, the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) says there is enough oil to meet our needs for the next 100 years.

"Oil is plentiful. That's why it's so cheap," said David Deming of the University of Oklahoma's School of Geology and Geophysics and adjunct scholar at the NCPA. "In real terms, the price of gasoline is lower today than 50 years ago. We're not about to run out of oil. In fact, we have only begun to consume it. We may have used less than one-third of the world's petroleum resources."

Before the first well was dug there were warnings that we would run out. Instead, the opposite has occurred. Over the past 100 years, estimates of known reserves have continued to rise. One reason is new technology:

  • Today's technology allows drilling up to 30,000 feet.
  • Vast underwater resources are now accessible through offshore drilling.
  • Recovery efficiency from a single well has increased greatly because of seismic imaging and horizontal drilling.

Furthermore, new technologies could increase global reserves by as much as 500 years of supply at today's production rates.

  • Production from tar sands in Canada and South America will add 600 billion barrels to world supply.
  • Rocks in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming contain more than 1,500 billion barrels of oil.
  • Worldwide, oil-shale resources could be 14,000 billion barrels.

How long will it last? Deming said, "No one can predict, but we are not at the end of the age of oil, we are at the beginning. We may see short-term spikes in oil prices periodically, but it won't be because of an irreversible decline in supply."