Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Friday, April 27, 2012

USGS presents projections of future discoveries of oil and natural gas

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released its estimates for remaining undiscovered oil and natural gas resources in the world exclusive of the United States (pdf). The US estimates have been done as separate documents, one of which is here.

The estimates are probabilistic. The headline numbers: 565 billion barrels of conventional oil and 5,606 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, is enough for about 20 years of global consumption for oil--and somewhat more for gas, and have a probability of about 50% of being achieved. Maybe there will be more--maybe there will be less.

That 20 years of current consumption assumes that all the Africans, Chinese, and Indians who want cars but don't have them remain unable to get them.

Underneath the headline numbers we can limit the variability by considering the F95 (95% likely to exceed) and F5 (5% likely to exceed) from which we see a 90% likelihood of extracting between 200 billion and 1.2 trillion barrels of conventional oil and 90% chance of finding between about 2,000 trillion and 12,100 trillion cubic feet.

What is economic depends on price, so if price goes high enough we will probably be able to extract the F5 levels; which is promising, but even then is still only about 50 years of oil at current levels of consumption (although consumption should also fall if real price rises).

Also: these are conventional numbers, and don't include solving such problems as harvesting gas hydrates from continental slopes.

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