When The Crude Oil Runs Out

Kern West Oil Museum

Mankind is using crude oil faster than Mother Nature can replenish it. What are the implications of that fact? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Crude-oil optimists and crude-oil pessimists disagree on when the peak of the world’s oil production will take place, but they agree on one thing: The world’s supply of crude oil is finite. It isn’t a matter of if the world will run out of crude oil but a matter of when.

Crude-oil optimists have reasons for their optimism.

On its website, the U.S. Energy Information Administration states, “According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook 2014, the global supply of crude oil, other liquid hydrocarbons, and biofuels is expected to be adequate to meet the world’s demand for liquid fuels for at least the next 25 years. There is substantial uncertainty about the levels of future liquid fuels supply and demand.”

An article on the Michigan State University Extension website states, “Despite current widespread conflict in the traditional oil producing areas of the Middle East, crude oil supplies are increasing and prices are declining.”

A BP.com report states, “Total world proved oil reserves reached 1700.1 billion barrels at the end of 2014 sufficient to meet 52.5 years of global production.”

The current oil boom in the USA has plenty of Americans wanting the U.S. to export crude oil. In its Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 34, the Council on Foreign Relations states, “Federal lawmakers should overturn the ban on exporting crude oil produced in the United States.”

In a statement released 05/13/15, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources states, “U.S. Sens Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., along with 11 of their Senate colleagues today introduced the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S.1312). This bipartisan legislation would modernize federal energy policy by ending the outdated ban on crude oil exports.”

Meanwhile, crude-oil pessimists have reasons for their pessimism, too.

In an online article updated 06/16/15, PetroStrategies, Inc. gives the following statistics:

At the end of 2013 there were 1,687.9 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. In 2013, the world produced 31.685 billion barrels of oil (86,808 thousand barrels per day). That means that we had 53.3 years of oil left at the current rate of production.

The reserve lifetime for natural gas is 55.1 years.

This means that if we keep on using oil and gas at the rate we did in 2013 we will run out of oil in 2056 and natural gas in 2068.

The article explains the variables that can cause the the above-stated predictions to be inaccurate. The article goes on to say, “Using these estimates of undiscovered oil and gas, we can expect to run out of oil in 2057 and natural gas in 2064. These calculations are subject to a great deal of uncertainty, however, they do highlight the fact that oil and gas are depletable resources and that we only have a certain amount left.”

On its website, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers states, “There are an estimated 1.3 trillion barrels of proven oil reserve left in the world’s major fields, which at present rates of consumption will be sufficient to last 40 years. By 2040, production levels may be down to 15 million barrels per day – around 20% of what we currently consume. It is likely by then that the world’s population will be twice as large, and more of it industrialised (and therefore oil dependent).”

Predictions about the depletion of the world’s crude oil supply have been problematic, as noted in a 2008 article in the journal Energy Policy, which says the following:

This paper has shown that the reserves of oil and gas did not decline over the last few decades, and predictions that oil and gas are diminishing were not reliable. Also the prediction about coal reserves over the last two decades was not accurate. The fossil fuel time depletion is calculated to be around 35, 107 and 37 years for oil, coal and gas, respectively, by the proposed method. In contrast, the ratios of world consumption to reserves for oil, coal and gas show if the world continues to consume fossil fuels at 2006 rates, the reserves of oil, coal and gas will last a further 40, 200 and 70 years, respectively. These figures prove that oil will be depleted earlier than the other types of fossil fuel, and coal will remain longer than oil and gas.

It is easy to be a crude-oil optimist when one expects to be long dead before crude oil becomes scarce. What one need to ask one’s self is this: Does one have an obligation to prepare now for what will be inevitable for future generations? The convenient thing would be to say, “It’s not my problem, and so I’ll just kick this can down the road.”

If it would be improper to have such apathy for future generations, then what should Mankind do now for the eventual depletion of crude oil? Has Mankind already taken all of the appropriate steps, or is there more that should be done?

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  • Commander_Chico

    Prices need to rise because Chico’s getting crushed in the markets. Bought XOM at 82 thought it was a bargain.

    • b l

      That’s why the astute capitalist diversifies.
      Hedge oil stocks with airline stocks. Airlines tend to rise when oil falls.
      Never expect to win with everything, just win enough.

    • I knew there was an upside to the market crash….

  • jim_m

    The implications are that in 500 to 1000 years when that happens (if that ever happens) man will have invented a new way to produce the energy he needs and neoMalthusian morons like David will be shouting “the sky is falling” about something else.

    Morons constantly discounting the ability of man to innovate have been on the wrong side of history since history began. The only way to shut down innovation is for these fascists to usher in the dystopian society they wish for that will crush the human spirit.

  • jim_m

    Current oil available in the Green River Basin is estimated to last 400 years at 25% of US demand. So if we increase our extraction that would last 100 years debunking your bullshit prediction of 53 years.

    We continue to discover new resources and yet somehow the predictions become more and more dire every year. Seems more like the idiot enviros become more and more desperate every year because they are looking increasingly like fools.

  • LiberalNightmare

    This all sounds vague familiar.

    The numbers and dates are different, but its the same chicken little “The SKY is FALLING!!!!” bullshit from when I was a kid in the 70’s.

    • jim_m

      Of course the numbers are different. We are nearly at the time that the 70’s doomsayers were predicting as the end of the world.

      THese are the same idiots that were predicting a global ice age in the 70’s and then predicted at the turn of the century that the N Pole would be ice free by last year.

      Fact is that they make this shit up.

  • Paul Hooson

    The peak oil point was passed back in 1977, where even the giant Saudi Ghawar oil field needed to pump million of gallons of seawater in to raise the oil level up for production and the Russians use air or gas injection to ease their production. Some other oil areas such as the North Sea 40, were estimated to only have about 10% of supplies left to continue production. In addition to declining future oil supplies, environmentalists have heavily hit the industry over either pollution or new oil exploration, where this is really a national security issue here. The need to develop more hybrid, electric or fuel cell automobiles is very vital to the future. My relative, Larry developed a hybrid locomotive-aircraft steam turbine automobile engine for the Lear Jet company in Nevada. But, the slower heat-up of steam engines was the main problem, where a new chemical Learium was developed to speed up the heating time to boiling steam.

    I’ve wanted to build a water-based engine model for years to test. It uses a water tank for fuel, where some sulfuric acid is added to the water as an electrolyte, and two electrical prods are used to split the water into the basic hydrogen and oxygen components, which is then compressed into two fuel tanks where the hydrogen is used to replace gasoline and something similar to a carb also mixes the hydrogen with the oxygen. When the mixture is ignited with a spark plug, it creates a great deal of power to push down the piston and produce power. The engine produces zero pollution, where the two gases explode and create only water which runs back to the fuel tank to be reused over and over again in a closed system that constantly recycles it’s own fuel source, allowing the vehicle to drive unlimited miles without having to ever refuel. When broken down into the two component gases, hydrogen and oxygen, water contains enough energy potential to power an engine and produce zero pollution.

    Here’s the steam engine produced by my relative, Larry.

    • iwogisdead

      Next thing, you’ll be soliciting investors, right?


      • Paul Hooson

        I’m already a real estate millionaire. But, it would give me some satisfaction to build a working model of one of these engines. It’s not surprising that others have thought of the same idea of extracting gases from water to use as a fuel source since water is both cheap and abundant.

        • mistyeyrie

          Real estate in Detroit ?

    • jim_m

      Paul, every decade known oil reserves expand not contract. The amount of available oil is greater now than it was in the 70’s.

      • iwogisdead

        Yes, but he’s already a real estate millionaire.

        • Paul Hooson

          That doesn’t mean that I don’t have frustrations or disappointments. Well run, one of my businesses is supposed to gross $900 an hour for example. Last week I was actually involved in a fist fight due to problems here, so it’s not all roses and cherries….

          • jim_m

            That’s a nice image: a 60+ YO man getting in a fist fight with his employees. I can confidently say that you are doing it wrong, whatever it is that you were doing.

        • mistyeyrie

          In Detroit.

          • Paul Hooson

            No. A huge Portland, Oregon industrial property. I promised one of the three tenants a $2 million gross in the next 12 months if they I would help to manage their business plan and help to arrange events such as music concerts in the big venue. I’ve had acts as big as the rock group Night Ranger who want to play my huge venue. The same acts that play the Native American casinos will play my venue because of the huge size.

          • nanny

            When I checked, your place hasn’t been open all year and is in foreclosure.

          • Paul Hooson

            No, your facts are wrong. I have a very troublesome tenant here who won’t leave and hasn’t paid rent for eight months in the biggest club. He hasn’t opened his business for six months. He doesn’t work for a living and sues people for a living. So far he launched 32 lawsuits against people in the last several years including a bogus $750,000 lawsuit against me. My property has a tax value of $1.5 million and an actual real estate value of $2 million or better. I had to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the business to shield me from any more of his bogus lawsuits while I work to evict him as a tenant. He’s been working with a major real estate investor to steal this valuable property from me, where I run the only open business in this location right now, but I have a deal for a group of investors to run the other three business venues which should put substantial cash in my pocket very soon. I’m having serious problems with a terrible tenant right now, but I’ve spent thousands of dollars to shield me from his antics to defraud me of my property while I have a new agreement in place from a group that involves a lawyer and his law office and others to open the complex as a grocery store, a giant music club, a third venue of some sort as well a coffee and food on the go business.

          • nanny

            Does the word embellish mean anything to you?

        • jim_m

          Tell him to start drilling on his property.

          • Ken in Camarillo

            He’ll claim he already does.

      • Paul Hooson

        I credit oil exploration efforts in finding new reserves. Oil exploration is essential to our lifestyle and our economy.

        • jim_m

          It’s not just exploration. It’s development of new technologies that allow extraction of oil from new resources like oil shale. In the 70’s this was considered inaccessible. Today oil shale is a reality. Russians are drilling far deeper than conceived of before and finding greater success in finding oil. IT’s not exploration, it’s the understanding of where the reserves are. Simple exploration doesn’t do that.

          • Paul Hooson

            I own stocks in oil exploration companies, but that’s as far as I’m interested at this time. I am interested in the water powered automobile technology only because I’m a car guy and love engine and mechanics technology.

  • Kaiser Derden

    not everyone agrees that there is a finite amount of oil in the ground right now … the Russians in particular …

    • mistyeyrie

      We are sitting on pacific oceans of the stuff. We float in it.

  • JWH

    There is a finite amount of oil available. But hell if I know when it’s going to run out. I suspect there are other potential energy sources out there, perhaps including solar and wind. I think that rather than assuming future generations are going to build them, there’s virtue in dedicating a some gov’t funding to researching potential future technologies, or refining existing technologies. I wouldn’t count on the energy companies to do this; after all, such technologies are not profitable to them in the short term. But I think it’s worth having a body of research and some workable prototypes for when the technology is needed.

    • jim_m

      Bill Clinton had a great idea: Future medical discovery was going to come from unraveling the human genome. Rather than leaving it to future generations to do he created the human genome project with the aim to decode the entire human genome. The project was expected to take over 12 years for government funded researchers to complete. It was completed in just over a year by independent researchers seeking to advance commercial opportunities.

      The future is not static, waste ridden government projects. It is individuals reaching to excel and achieve. Government projects by their nature encourage dragging things out. Government grants are structured so you don’t find an answer but you find the next question, the intent being that the grants will continue to be renewed indefinitely.

      Yep, don’t count on the oil companies to innovate. When John D Rockefeller was the king of oil and he saw that kerosene was being replaced by electricity for lighting our homes and cities he just shrugged and closed up shop. He knew when his career was over.

      Wait, that’s not what happened. He took a waste product being literally poured into the ground because they could find no use for it and found that it could be used to power the new invention, the automobile. Gasoline, thought to be useless, became far bigger business than kerosene ever was.

      If you think that people are not motivated by the opportunity to make money and improve their standard of living you are an incredible idiot.

      • Ken in Camarillo

        Beyond government inefficiencies, there is the sheer unpredictability of future technology. They claim oil will run out in 35 years. In 1935 did anyone know that we’d land on the moon within 35 years? In 1980 did anyone know what the impact of personal computers would be in 20 years, let alone 35? I think since the 70’s, fusion energy has been only 10 years away.

        The point is, it’s a fools errand to think the technology of the future can be accurately predicted, so don’t commit (force) all resources to be used for “the next big thing.” It will just cause waste. The proper strategy is to keep a multitude of irons in the fire, supporting them with modest research money, but no money for production size developments (like Solyndra). When the time is right for a technology, there will be plenty of private sector entities willing to make the investment for production.

  • iwogisdead

    The only green energy industry I would support is one that converts grass into ethanol. That way, instead of me paying the teenager up the street to mow my lawn, the government would mow my lawn and pay me for the grass. Is this a great idea or what?

  • Retired military

    Does one have an obligation to prepare now for what will be inevitable for future generations?”

    Well the enviro nut balls havent done anything except to make it harder to reduce oil consumption. If we could build another 50-100 nuclear plants that would certainly reduce our need for oil. Cant do it thanks to the left.

    I will be about 100 when the oil runs out. If I am still around I will be laughing at all the tree huggers who are chopping down their beloved just to keep warm for the winter, all the while bemoaning the evil right who refused to do anything to stop this calamity.

    All that being said I expect in 15-20 years if we even have a civilization left someone will come along and invent something that would make solar or wind/wave much more economical to produce and save the world.

    Meanwhile Obama spends $130 a gallon on algea fuel and the US goes broke.

    Well the enviro nut balls havent done anything except to make it harder to reduce oil consumption. If we could build another 50-100 nuclear plants that would certainly reduce our need for oil. Cant do it thanks to the left.

    I will be about 100 when the oil runs out. If I am still around I will be laughing at all the tree huggers who are chopping down their beloved just to keep warm for the winter, all the while bemoaning the evil right who refused to do anything to stop this calamity.

    All that being said I expect in 15-20 years if we even have a civilization left someone will come along and invent something that would make solar or wind/wave much more economical to produce and save the world.

    Meanwhile Obama spends $130 a gallon on algea fuel and the US goes broke.

  • Vagabond661

    Gee, how will we make all theses items then.


    There is evidence that oil replinishes itself.


    One thing for sure, corn is not a viable fuel source. Why would any sane government use a food source for fuel?

    • jim_m

      Because they can make their cronies rich by doing so. And so what if brown skinned people overseas starve to death as a consequence? The American left doesnt give a damn. Just ask obama. He’s already said that he has no moral responsibility to prevent a genocide.

    • Who accused our government of sanity?


    How much government money think should be devoted to research of any kind, be it medical or scientific. As far as I can tell, the number is zero. I understand private R and D, but other countries participate for the greater good and because it can be an economic driver.

    Oh well, better we buy more tanks so we are well-prepared to fight World War II again (well, and to keep Ohio working).

    • Jwb10001

      Yes let’s cut defense everyone knows defense contractors don’t put anyone to work, oh wait they actually do. But yes let’s cut defense because we don’t waste money anywhere else and after all when did it become the business of the federal government to provide for the defense of the nation…. Damn that’s right they are actually responsible for that. Well, let’s cut defense any way because FAIRNESS, damn it. Money has to go to the free loaders and space wasters, it’s gotta come from somewhere, we should never look at where that money goes. We gotta support illegal aliens after all they’re doing the work the freeloaders and space wasters refuse to do. And for sure we need to keep funding those Nevada Cowboy Poets. Best not to cut any agencies like the IRS they’ve got people to harass for their political views. Wouldn’t want to cut the EPA budget they have rivers to pollute and industries to destroy. Yep better just stick with cutting the defense budget that would be best. I bet no one here could come up with any other areas of the federal government that could do with a cut here and there.

  • Vagabond661

    The title to this piece could also be “When the Sun burns Out” or “When the Oceans dry up” or “The Ice caps are Disappearing” or “Global Cooling/Warming/Change will Kill us all One Day”,

  • b l

    The problem with long term extrapolations is that you have to assume current conditions will persist, and they won’t. They never do.

  • GarandFan

    Oh, it looks like we may be going back to nuclear power despite the greenies.

  • Applemontis

    All the crude oil ran out in 1982 and we all froze to death. We are living
    in the Twilight Zone.