NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Contrary to Pessimistic Views, Global Oil Supplies Increasing

April 12, 2013

For decades, many people prophesized that the world's oil supplies would soon run dry with catastrophic consequences. Recent trends suggest that subscribers to the peak oil scenario are wrong, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

  • In 2012, domestic natural gas production rose to 69 billion cubic feet per day, a record 33 percent increase over the levels achieved in 2005.
  • In 2005, the CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world's largest oil companies, said that North America had reached peak oil production.
  • Seven years later, U.S. oil production rose by 790,000 barrels per day, the largest annual increased since oil production began in 1859.

The increase in production is due solely to the advance of technology. Innovative techniques, materials and technologies have enabled oil companies to find and extract more fossil fuels.

  • Over the past 100 years, the drilling of oil wells has been refined into a precise process barely resembling the original attempts of oil seekers.
  • More than 2.6 million wells were drilled between 1949 and 2010, during which the percentage of dry holes drilled fell from 34 percent to 11 percent.
  • Better drill rigs, drill bits, robotics and nanotechnology led to more than $1.2 trillion in global drilling expenditures in 2012, which is nearly 4.5 times the amount spent on clean energy.

Technology is so advanced that oil hunters can now drill down two miles vertically before making a right angle turn and drilling two miles horizontally to arrive within feet of a precise point. Estimates of oil reserves have continued to increase and companies are finding huge reserves under the ocean floor.

  • Oil rigs at sea can now drill 30,000 feet or more below the ocean floor in more than 5,000 feet of water.
  • Companies operating rigs are leasing drill ships at a price of $600,000 or more per day to satisfy demand for transport fuels that can be refined from crude oil and the heating and electricity that can be derived from natural gas.
  • As long as technology continues to advance, peak oil production will continue to move further into the future.

Source: Robert Bryce, "Peak Oil Cult is Proved Spectacularly Wrong," Investor's Business Daily, April 01, 2013.


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