Winsonic Tech Blog

Is it true that in the coming 10 years, all petroleum sources would be finished?

Thalbert McGinness, over 70 years in and of the oil patch - born there but won't die there. Answered Jul 29

Is it true that in the coming 10 years, all petroleum sources would be finished? End of oil - Full disclosure: This is the latest version of a canned answer built after answering this same question in slightly different wording several times.

It is updated as needs be First, last and always, the world will never run out of coal, oil or natural gas. This is not because of some unlimited supply the public is unaware of or some miraculous regeneration previously unknown to science. This is because the energy industry and the world's scientists are continually investigating new and/or improved sources of energy, improved techniques in finding and recovering hydrocarbons and improving the efficiency of all variety of devices that utilize these energy sources. The costs associated with hydrocarbons will fluctuate over time just as it has since the Colonel hit that first strike in PA. Meanwhile the costs of so called renewable sources will continue to drop as technology develops to improve those sources. Eventually, in different locations around the world, at different times, those expenses will flip and future production after that will be solely for non-energy needs that will support higher prices that fuel or electrical generation.

One must realize that there are many uses of oil and gas beyond energy already (Medicines, Insecticides, Ink, Floor Wax, Pens, Upholstery, Clothing, Boats, Sports Car Bodies, Nail Polish, Fishing Lures, etc.). The need for flight fuel will most likely be the longest lasting petroleum energy need. The bottom line is what does it cost to generate and how many are willing/able to pay that expense.

Innovation and invention are prime key words in the O&G industry. The first “fracturing” patent was issued in 1865 to a civil war vet experienced in explosives. In 1949, the first application of hydraulic fracturing was performed by The Halliburton co with a process developed and patented by Stanolind. In 1967 nuclear fracturing experimentation was performed in New Mexico with a 29 kiloton device. (Google “project gas buggy”) Without stepping through all the improvements of fluids, proppants and pumps today, you may easily see 20 to 25 frac jobs in one horizontal wellbore. I won’t even start on geophysics, drillbits, testing, etc., etc., etc.

Added commentary: I keep hearing rumors that wind or solar or something else is “already cheaper than petroleum”. Well, of course they are - in sub-Saharan Africa, the Alaskan outback, the Andes, …. You get the idea. Anywhere that doesn’t already have petroleum infrastructure can easily take on wind and solar cheaper than building pipelines and refineries. But to say the same about in the US or in Europe is ridiculous. The only thing that brings that balance is the direct subsidies paid by all taxpayers whether they are customers or not.