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2012-11-30. An Oil Gusher in the Offing, but Will It Be Enough?

posted Nov 30, 2012, 12:46 PM by Alan Gould
| A. Kerr, Science (News & Analysis) Vol. 338 no. 6111 p. 1139. Relevant to Energy Use, chapter 3. Excerpt:  Some stunning headlines followed the International Energy Agency's (IEA's) release earlier this month of its World Energy Outlook 2012. “U.S. Oil Output to Overtake Saudi Arabia's by 2020,” blared Bloomberg, for example. …Under the right conditions,… the world could produce increasing amounts of oil right through 2035 and meet the world's growing demand for energy as oil. The catch is “under the right conditions.” … The trick will be wresting it from the ground under difficult circumstances as fast as the world needs it. The United States would have to triple its production of so-called tight oil, requiring tens of thousands of new hydrofractured wells. Fragile Iraq would have to triple its current production. And the world would have to figure out how to run motor vehicles on a sort of petroleum gas currently of little or no use in transportation.  …increasing population and rising standards of living push the demand for oil from 2011's 87.4 million barrels per day to 99.7 mb/d in 2035. In this scenario, to help meet that increased demand, oil-producing countries would have to double their production of so-called unconventional oil. That's oil locked up in rock or sand so tightly it won't come out of a well on its own, like U.S. tight oil trapped in nearly impermeable rock or Canada's tarry oil stuck to sands. These unconventional oils are abundant, but tight oil requires hydraulic fracturing of the rock, and oil sands need to be steamed underground or bodily dug up and processed. … but tight-oil well production peaks quickly and drops precipitously, 40% to 80% during the first year of production. That means lots of new, expensive wells need to be drilled into large volumes of oil-rich rock….. …. Read the full article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6111/1139.full