NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 27, 2007

Alternative fuel sources -- such as nuclear energy and biofuels -- should play a role in our energy future, but the world's oil is not running out anytime soon, says Alan W. Dodd, a senior fellow at the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research.

According to a report by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), there is no evidence that the world, in general, or the United States, in particular, is running out of fossil fuels.  In fact, the very opposite may be more accurate:

  • In 1874, geologists in Pennsylvania (then the major oil-producing state) predicted there was only four year's worth of oil remaining in the U.S.; yet by 1945, proven reserves of oil in the United States amounted to 20 billion barrels.
  • Between 1945 and 1994, the United States produced 135 billion barrels of oil domestically—"more than six times the entire amount known to exist in 1945."
  • Today, U.S. reserves alone could sustain domestic oil needs for 38 to 75 years.


  • In 1920, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated total world oil supplies at 60 billion barrels.
  • In 1950, the experts pushed that number to 600 billion.
  • By 1990, world oil supplies were estimated at 2 trillion barrels.
  • By the mid-1990s, the estimate was higher yet -- 2.4 trillion and by 2000, it was even higher -- 3 trillion barrels of oil supply.

The reason for this constant upward readjustment is technology, says the NCPA.  Thanks to technological advances, oil is being discovered in new places; and trapped oil is being extracted from old places, as with the oil-shale deposits in the western United States.

At a consumption rate of 20.6 million barrels a day, America's substantial oil reserves are not an endless supply.  But they are enough to carry us, comfortably, to what might be called "the post-petro economy."

Source: Alan W. Dodd, "The Energy Challenge," Frontpage Magazine, June 27, 2007.

For NCPA report:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues