The days of punching a hole in worthless land and pumping out the Black Gold are nearing an end. It is inevitable that someday, petroleum will be the least attractive of all options, particularly as the consumer/taxpayer doesn’t want to pay prices climbing to infinity.
“Drill here, drill now” is not a solution. The CIA, with strategic reasons for knowing who has oil, and how much [troop trucks, jet planes and tanks don’t run on ‘energy’, they run on petroleum] has published figures that show the oil reserves of the US: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2178.html?countryName=&countryCode=®ionCode=%E2%80%99.
Compare that CIA figure to their numbers on our daily consumption: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/print_2174.html
The numbers show we have a little over three years worth of oil. Of course, you may have heard that the US has plenty of oil, enough to last almost a century. That claim is based on deposits of Tar Sands and Oil Shale. However, if you read my last article, [http://www.examiner.com/alternative-transportation-in-dayton/big-oil-hedging-their-bets ] I mentioned that tar sands and oil shale don’t actually have oil.
The resource in those sands and shale is bitumen, also known as mineral pitch, tar, or asphalt. Bitumen is a semi-solid that can not be pumped out and won’t flow through pipelines without being melted. The oft-used process for heating and extracting it is steam injection, which involves using a lot of water. Even then, bitumen is not petroleum, and special refineries need to be built refine it into heating oil, diesel, and gasoline. In terms of expense, pollution, and energy input, other energy forms begin to look more competitive. Grinding up all our blacktop roads and parking areas might be as good a source of bitumen, if we hadn't just spent billions to 're-invest' and repair them.
While the oil industry has promoted bitumen as the next generation of ‘oil’, they have put pressure on to produce results, encroaching on another valuable resource, water. In western North America, where bitumen is plentiful, fresh water isn’t. It is hard for people from the semi-arid plains [like me] to understand how bio-fuels like butanol and ethanol from sorghum or switchgrass, which the local economies can thrive on, is worse than fuel from bitumen, which ruins the land and water for farming.
It all depends, I guess, on the beneficiaries.