The oil question: nature and prognosis

Author: Rhodes, Christopher J.

Source: Science Progress, Volume 91, Number 4, December 2008 , pp. 317-375(59)

Publisher: Science Reviews 2000 Ltd

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A review is given of the nature and origins of crude oil (petroleum) along with factors relating to its production and demand for it. The modern globalised world economy and its population has grown on the assumption of limitless supplies of cheap crude oil. Almost all agriculture now is completely dependent on available oil and natural gas to run machinery and to make chemical fertilizers. Our complacent regard for oil is however invalid and a gap between the relentlessly rising demand for oil and its supply is expected to appear at some time in the period 2010 – 2015. The global peak in oil production "peak oil" predicted by M. King Hubbert in 1956, will exacerbate the situation, and the world must seek to run and organise itself in an imminent reality where supplies of conventional crude oil are both limited and increasingly expensive. Providing the equivalent of 30 billion barrels of oil a year as is currently used across the globe, by unconventional kinds of oil, e.g. from oil shale and tar sands is not realistic. Since most of the oil produced in the world is refined into liquid fuels to run transportation, human survival will depend on devising localised economies and communities that necessarily rely far less on personalised transport (cars).
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