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Have We Run Out Of Oil? Geologists Investigate Oil Production

You may have heard we are running out of oil... is this true?

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Photo: Arthur Chapman (flickr)

Even the most conservative experts agree that oil production will peak at some point within the next half century or so.

You may have heard that we’re running out of oil–is this true? Some geologists say that oil production may have already peaked. But others say there is a lot more oil to be discovered.

So Who’s Right?

The issue is important since we use oil for everything from powering cars and trucks to making plastic bags and running shoes. The answer is that we don’t really know if oil production has peaked or not. It’s hard to tell.

But why? There’s only so much oil in the ground. So shouldn’t we know how much of it we’ve already used and how much is left?

However, It’s Not So Simple…

First, because big oil‑producing states like Saudi Arabia keep that information secret. They want to keep the rest of the world guessing so they can more easily control the price of oil.

And second, most remaining oil tends to be deep underground in hard‑to‑reach places. So it’s hard to know exactly how much oil is left in known fields, let alone unexplored places like the polar regions and much of the ocean floor.  There may be very little oil left. And there may be a lot.

Conserve And Save

But it’s important to keep in mind that oil is a finite resource. And eventually it will run out. There’s no denying that.

Even the most conservative experts agree that oil production will peak at some point within the next half century or so. Hopefully by then we’ll have developed other, cleaner sources of energy.

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