World (earth) oil reserves

  • Thread starter zoki85
  • Start date
994
119
How are they estimated?
What methodologies experts use for that?
Some say they will last for up to 50 years,some say for only 15 years.
The opinions differ.
 

mgb_phys

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,744
11
You can fairly easily and accurately estimate the volume of existing reservoirs from seismic surveys. But you then need to make assumptions about how much of it you can extract and what effect new extraction technolgies would have.
Then looking for new fields is a bit more specultive, you can do surveys which show there are similair features under the atlantic as under the North Sea and then say - if they contain the same amount of oil and are 10x bigger then there is 10x as much oil as in the North Sea. Do the same for oil sands etc..
Then there is the question of consumption / extraction technology / extraction cost.
If consumption goes up we have less oil, but then demand goes up so it is worthwhile expoiting more expensive sources such as oil sands. As price goes up it becomes worth investing in new technology to both find oil and extract it - so supply goes up.

Then there's politics. If you are a green campainger you pick the most conservative estimates of available reserves and assume the worst estimates of growth in demand to get 15years. If you are a car maker you pick the opposites.
The oil industry is notorious for overstating it's known reserves - partly this is just human nature, everybody on the exploration teams wants to give good news to his manager, the layers of management all want to give good news to their superiors - so reserves get exagerated. Then the board just flat out lies to the investors.
 
994
119
It is clear to me why car industry is unethical about
these issues ,and why Greenpeace advocates the most pesismistic
prognosis.
But I was more interested to hear about scientific and
seizmology methods for evaluating current and potential
oil reserves of the planet.
Well the problem is I didn't hear that such studies
are fairly easily done or accurate !
Can you provide reliable links or something?
 

mgb_phys

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
7,744
11
Don't have any specific links about reserve mapping.
It wasn't that companies are necessarily unethical - it's just that there are a lot of factors multiplied together and each factor has a wide range of uncertainty.

Reserves are listed with large number of significant figures for the volume then a designination such as likely/probable/possible. So it's hard to be certain about how much there is - it's one of those areas where you are asked "tell me exactly how much stuff there is out there - that we haven't found yet!"
 
994
119
I heard on the lecture I attended to,an interesting claim .
That factual reserves of oil are much bigger than firstly thought.
Maybe,they should suffice for next 100 years but will
they ever be commercially exploited is questionable.
They are located too deep (in earth core) or hard to reach.
Claim made by an expert.
He doesn't work for General Motors :-)
 
Can you imagine how much exploration has taken place in Uganda and Burundi compared to say Texas and Kuwait? This question is tough to answer considering the pure politics involved and that OPEC mandates its members change their reserves inorder to change their quotas.
 
994
119
Can you imagine how much exploration has taken place in Uganda and Burundi compared to say Texas and Kuwait?
That's one of the reasons the questions regarding estimates are so intriguing.
 

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving

Hot Threads

Top