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mazingerz88's avatar

When are oil producing countries going to run out of it and what impact would it have on that future world?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18465 points ) October 10th, 2011

As asked. Thanks!

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10 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

They won’t “run out”. That’s the thing about oil in the ground: there will always be “some amount more”. It might be deeper, it might be more dispersed, it might be mixed with more contaminants or it might simply be in a part of a country’s territory (jungle, arctic ice cap or ocean, for example) that is inconvenient (read: difficult and expensive) to access.

In fact, even the accessible oil fields that will have been considered “used up” will not be “empty” in the way that your car’s fuel tank can be emptied and dried, for example.

What will happen is that the marginal deposits will be made more and more expensive due to the cost of extraction and refinement into usable product. So what that means is that more and more labor and expense will go into producing less and less product until it becomes economically non-viable. There’s no telling when that point might occur. It could be pretty soon, in fact, if competing energy sources are developed which undercut the cost / price of the marginal petroleum so developed. At that point, there would be no incentive to explore for deeper deposits or more complex refining methods.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

When the fossil fuels in the center of the earth run dry… And the axis of the planet comes to a SCREETching halt.

*Imagine that, that would be kinda cool.

woodcutter's avatar

The plan is ,I think, is to have a substitute for oil on or about the time it gets too hard to make oil doable. The oil Co’s are going to milk it right up to the end as they diversify into other expensive fuels. The middle east won’t have the world as its bitch after that.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s not clear that it will happen. We have enough oil to last a long time, hundreds of years. If we ever decide to allow it to be harvested. During the subsequent time there are astounding technologies awaiting development. For instance carbon capture that will allow us to regenerate the carbon into fuel again. Kind of recycling oil. There are so many opportunities to resolve this problem the solutions are endless. Will we crack the fusion problem? Or maybe something as yet undiscovered. The trick is to let technology work for us and give it enough time to solve the problem.

Cheap energy is the key to most technology advancements. Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face. I don’t foresee a time when we run out of energy. I can foresee a time when we restrict ourselves to limited advancement. I just hope we don’t go that way.

King_Pariah's avatar

Good question, guess it all depends on whenever and if the US decides to completely open the two largest oil reserves in the world.

wundayatta's avatar

I agree with @Jaxk and @CWOTUS. I think the main issue is really global warming. And again, I don’t believe anyone can predict, very specifically what will happen with global warming, and how it will affect humans. Yes the planet will warm and the ice caps will melt and weather patterns will change and there will be other changes, and this will cause humans to have to react, but whether we’ll do better or worse, I don’t think anyone can say.

Anyway, we don’t know when oil and gas will become economically unviable, but the impact will be be on our environment, no matter when we reach that point.

flutherother's avatar

Just watch, it is starting to happen.

Bluefreedom's avatar

The documentary ”A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash” offers good insight into this question and the global repercussions it may and probably will have.

wundayatta's avatar

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there more proven reserves in the world now that when “Crude Awakening” was made? I’m sitting practically on top of more oil than there is in Saudi Arabia. No one knew this was here ten years ago. Or at least, no one knew it was retrievable at a profit ten years ago.

Frick and Frack, the pollution brothers. But at least we get to drive our cars some more.

woodcutter's avatar

Nobody wants an oil rig in their back yard so it ain’t gonna happen here.

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