Friday, February 5, 2010

Oil Consumption versus Reserve Reduction, 2005-2009

I was watching a video (HT: hey bro) on exponential growth and exponential consumption, and it was talking about how much oil there was in 1970, (1.740 * 1012) and how if we'd kept our growth rates, we'd be out by now. He mentions this is very simple arithmetic. Sadly, the world is not so clean. I decided to found how complicated the world of oil reserves actually is.

In 2005, oil reserves were 1,349,417,153,000 barrels.

In 2009, oil reserves were 1,348,528,420,000 barrels.

(P90 proven reserves, those that have a 90% chance of being economically recoverable.)

In 2009, the world consumed 85,220,000 barrels a day. I hope you'll forgive a little fudging, but this number has not changed greatly in the last four years. So that means that between 2005 and 2009, about 124 billion barrels of oil were combusted.

And oil reserves went down by 889 million.

Reserves reduced only by about 140th of the amount burnt. This number isn't stable, it's just to ballpark the power technological growth has on available resources (and to show why a little fudging is meaningless.)


D12 said...

The key to understand reserves is its definition, "economically exploitable mineral occurrence". Notice that the if oil prices was as high as perhaps a $1000 dollars a barrel, it would be economically reasonable to produce gasoline from wood and so gasoline form wood (by current processes) so gasoline would be a renewable energy source. Figure that!

Alrenous said...

Yes, I should have mentioned something about prices bringing uneconomic reserves into the P90 regime.

D12 said...

It is also reasonable that in the next 50 years, nanotechnology will change everything we know about industrial processes, fuel usage and enviromental pollution. Of course it will happen gradually.
Combined with the expected rise of nuclear fusion (from ITER project or less megalomaniacs like Polywheel) it seems reasonable to think that if we don't use enough of oil, it might become obsolete and we would have worried for nothing.
Maybe some enviromentalist will rage at me being a techno optmist but still, it is not unreasonable. Japan is one of the most populous countries in the world and also with most natural forest ratios. And Holland is not the nuclear wasteland you would hope for after they "wrecked havok" on their forests and marshes. Enviromentalists are insist that if you expand such changes on a global scale THEN you would see the really negative consequences. I have news for you, humans devasteded so much of Brazil you can even begin to conceive, millions of square kilometers. We can only speculate how much of China and India were forests 500 years ago, all made way to farms of fields. And if that changed the climate, it was not the end of world.

Alrenous said...

It's actually easy to conceive of how much of Brazil has been affected. Google Earth is still free, isn't it?

D12 said...

Well, google still didn't made a in-built forest monitoring system, I think. Althought IPCC would love that as a propaganda tool.