But then more oil reserves than anyone could have imagned are discovered.
Then even more yet.
Then new ways to get oil, such as fracking, sideways drilling and more.
So here's just one more example:
"BP just discovered a billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico
BP's investment in next-generation technology just paid off to the tune of a billion barrels.
The British energy company has discovered 1 billion barrels of oil at an existing oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico. BP also announced two new offshore oil discoveries and a major new investment in a nearby field.
BP is the Gulf of Mexico's biggest producer, but it's making strides to hold that title.
BP now expects its fossil fuel output from the region to reach 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by the middle of the next decade. Today, it produces about 300,000 boepd, up from less than 200,000 boepd about five years ago.
On Tuesday, the company said it will spend $1.3 billion to develop a third phase of its Atlantis field off the coast of New Orleans. Scheduled to start production in 2020, the eight new wells will add 38,000 bpd to BP's production at Atlantis. The decision comes after BP found another 400 million barrels of oil at the field.
BP made the massive 1 billion-barrel discovery at its Thunder Horse field off the tip of Louisiana.
Executives are crediting their investment in advanced seismic technology and data processing for speeding up the company's ability to confirm the discoveries at Atlantis and Thunder Horse. BP says it once would have taken a year to analyze the Thunder Horse data, but it now takes just weeks.
"We are building on our world-class position, upgrading the resources at our fields through technology, productivity and exploration success," Bernard Looney, BP's chief executive for production and exploration said in a statement.
Just northeast of Thunder Horse, BP also announced new discoveries at fields near its Na Kika platform.
BP says it plans to develop reservoirs at its Manuel prospect, where Shell holds a 50-percent stake. Producers also found oil at the Nearly Headless Nick prospect near Na Kika, where BP has a 20.25-percent working interest."
Do you think think the world's oil supply is limitless?
Yet you are asking and implying the exact same thing I was asked sixty years ago!
But then, before man discovered oil and the uses for oil, the experts were predicting we'd run out of whale oil.
But so what?
Some as yet unknown next new thing will come along, thanks to man's never-ending ability to come up with a new way to solve a supposedly unsolvable problem.
Do you disagree?
Good. Then, do you think racing to the end of a finite supply of oil makes sense, without a viable alternative?
I know that the wonder of exponential growth is what keeps investing alive. How does that translate to consuming a finite resource?
Do you also believe what the Luddites tried to sell us?
I don't know what "luddites" tried to sell us,
What I do know is that racing to the end of a finite resource is dumb. But I'm a simple man..
And why is that?
The question is how much it will cost to get it or if it will be replaced by an alternative by then.
Kyle, Lots of reasons. Typical recovery factors in DW fields are 20-30% at best. Depending on the nature of the reservoir, it could be lower. For example, there might be 1 bln barrels in place, but it may be divided up into geological compartments that ultimately make much (or all) of it uneconomic to produce. The drive mechanism behind the recovery may be weak, and leave a lot of unswept oil behind. The oil and/or the rock it is flowing out of may be of a poor quality that will limit how much oil is produced. Like I said, a good rule of thumb for plays in the GOM is about 1/4 to 1/3 of the oil in place.
Yes the majors recovery is 20-30% but then they sell those fields to companies like Hilcorp that go in and turn these "depleted" fields into money makers for themself and extract much more of the oil.
What we have been told all of these years is simply not true.
We may not have a limitless supply, but we aren't running out of oil. Just like we aren't running out of trees.
People always knew that oil and gas was there. It was a matter of making it recoverable. Fracking has been the key. And yes, independents come in and suck the last bit of predicable reserves out, but they aren’t doubling recovery. They’re redeveloping fields to take overall recovery from something like 25% to 30%, as an example. Physics prevents us from doing much more.
And no one in the industry believes in abiotic oil. But we certainly aren’t at risk of running out any time soon. We have literally trillions of barrels of resources here in the USA that we know of but are unable to produce economically right now. That’ll change as the technology matures.
Next "crisis" please!
Great stuff! Question here, please don't laugh.
I know people disagree on the Earth's constant production of oil. I get with horizontal drilling, fracking etc, technology is giving us greater access.
Yet, it does seem like oil is found again without new technologies in wells once thought dry.
I have read that oil migrates. Here's my question, can the centripetal force caused by the Earth's rotation be forcing deep oil pools we did not know exist to migrate out, or rather up to these areas that have room to accept oil as they are empty now? Could this explain some of the new finds?
Happy to answer the questions Frank! I know before I started working in the industry I knew pretty much nothing about the science behind the industry, so there's no dumb questions to me.
In short, it's pretty unlikely, and I'll try and explain why. Before I do though, recognize that there are many different types of oil reservoirs with many different characteristics - but while there maybe differences in source rock, charge mechanism, depositional setting, geological timeframe, etc which result in differences in rock type, rock quality, oil quality, etc, there are general commonalities between them.
When you look at the stratigraphy (ie, the stacked layers of rock in question) that hold sizable oil and gas reserves, it is a mix of rock that is permeable and impermeable rock. The fact of the matter is reservoirs of oil are generally always "boxed in" by impermeable rock that serves to trap the oil and create the accumulation of oil that will be produced. These walls of the reservoir allow oil to stay within the geologic bounds of the reservoir...but they also keep hydrocarbons out. So if there are deeper pools of oil, they will eventually run into a sealing barrier that stops there movement and serves to create the reservoir in the first place. In short, there geology wouldn't allow for it on the scale that I think you're thinking of.
What you are generally hearing about when people find oil in areas that were thought to be "dry" is a mixture of things happening. One of the ways this can be explained is in-line with what you are thinking, but on a smaller scale and the physics aren't related to centripetal forces. Often times wells will be producing in a smaller reservoir tied to a bigger reservoir. The well will drain the smaller reservoir faster than the bigger reservoir can replace it. Given time, however, things will equalize (oil that is under higher pressure will flow to areas that are depleted and under lower pressure). In most of these scenarios, it isn't necessarily new oil being discovered so to speak. It comes back to my comment that only a fraction of the oil in place is ever produced - in other words, people know the oil is there but there's uncertainty how much we can actually drain at times. So often times fields we think are tapped out will give up a little more oil if given time.
I'm not saying this is always what is happening in these scenarios, but it is more along the lines of this than some vast, unknown quantity of oil suddenly showing up as a surprise.
As you are able to produce more, the estimated reserve volume in place goes up. Also, horizontal laterals that may reach up to 2 miles in length expose more producable rock per wellbore increasing output volume at the wellhead. Instead of drilling 10 wells at a cost of $2MM each and producing 100 bopd, you now have 1 well producing the same acreage at a cost of $7.5MM and producing 1500 bopd.
And Nate’s spot on as well. Again, this usually isn’t necessarily “new oil” from the sense that it wasn’t known about. But until technology allowed it to be unlocked, it was essentially worthless and new life was given to old fields.
As another example, we have literally trillions of barrels of oil that are trapped in shale in Colorado that have essentially never been commercially produced. One day we may crack the nut, but so far we haven’t really figured it out.
“Fracturing has been a darling of the oil industry here and elsewhere, but will it last? Will it be improved upon and actually expanded in its use? Are there discoveries to be made inland right here in the 48 yet? (a very recent new discovery just made in the Gulf) Did Aubrey Mclendon kill himself or was it an accident?”
Fracking will certainly be here to stay (as Nate pointed out it’s been around for a long time) and the technique is always being improved upon (it is already widely used in industry). But there are other technologies, in theory and in development, that may prove as equally transformative over the years. And there will no doubt be further discoveries in the lower 48, and other areas in the US and abroad that will keep oil and gas a relevant part of the energy mix for another century at least IMO. And I have no idea who Aubrey Mclendon is.
There will always be a need for oil. Most of us think only in terms of energy for electricity generation, heating, or gasoline and oil for cars, but crude is cooked down into solvents that are used in polymer synthesis. Polymers are what make everything we use today, including plastics, paints, adhesives, caulks and sealants, printing and packaging, paper, etc. Polymer is literally everywhere.
Again, I’m not saying the process doesn’t occur - I’m saying that none of the currently produced reservoirs are a result of abiogenic processes and I’m saying no major oil company is going to gamble billions of dollars on testing areas that might hold abiogenic oil anytime soon.
And thanks, bigswivle!
Regardless....they love our left as they have kept a lid on oil production in the US for my lifetime at a minimum.
All of the oil we produce can be explained by biogenic processes. Furthermore, the understanding of these geological and biogenic processes are what cause us to focus oil exploration in certain areas. Even then with a strong understanding of the processes at work - that is, having the right type of depositional environment for organic material (think algae and plankton moreso than dinosaurs) to accumulate, be buried by sediment, and transformed by pressure and time - exploration success is low. Basins that are targeted (Permian, Gulf of Mexico, etc) all have this geological story behind them and that is what geologists are looking for. Even if abiotic oil was created in sufficient quantities across the globe, given the randomness of where they might be located it’s questionable whether they’d even be found to be produced in the first place.