What happens when oil runs out? How long will oil last? Oil producing companies
When will the oil end? Decades ago, the world had already warned that its reserves were coming to an end. Today, oil is more than necessary. What is fueled by the growth in the production of black gold?
In the evening of April 18, 1977, US President JimmyCarter invited television journalists to the Oval Office of the White House and ominously told the American people that he wants to talk today on an unpleasant topic about an unprecedented issue in the history of the United States. He spoke about the greatest after the war threat to national security.
An unprecedented problem, which was discussed,was energy. Or rather, its lack. According to the 39th President of the United States, the oil crisis caused the need to balance the demand for energy because of the rapid reduction of resources. Hydrocarbon reserves were exhausted, accounting for 75% of all energy sources in the country. The president even called the time when oil will run out - this should have happened in the next 6-7 years.
Carter's speech was greeted without enthusiasm. The Americans did not appreciate the apocalyptic message, and even less - his vision of a way out of this situation with the edifying requirement of collective moral support. But hardly anyone doubted the above facts.
And yet the US president was wrong. Data on oil and natural gas reserves turned out to be incorrect. Energy resources not only were not running out, they were if not infinite, then inconceivably huge. No one knew this then, but today many people know about it.
How long will oil last?
In addition to abundant hydrocarbon deposits inNorth America, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, there are significant untapped deposits in South America, Africa and the Arctic: not billions of barrels, but trillions. So, it's too early to ask what will happen when the oil runs out. On the contrary, according to the report of Harvard University, the world is heading for a glut of hydrocarbons.
75-page study of the expert and the formertop manager of Eni Leonardo Moderi, which analyzes the development and operation of oil fields around the world, predicts a 20 per cent increase in global production by 2020.
In particular, the report highlights:
- Deepwater deposits in the Brazilian Basin of Santos, which are believed to contain at least 150 billion barrels of oil;
- Venezuelan deposits of "extra-heavy" oil of bituminous sands of Orinoco, estimated at 1.2 trillion barrels;
- oil-bearing sandstones of Canada;
- pool Kwanza in Angola,
- and the Bakken and Tri-Forks deposits in North Dakota and Montana in the United States, which, according to Mogeri, can become the equivalent of the Gulf countries.
And the cause of this boom? The technological revolution, which transforms the ways of search and extraction of oil.
"Today, the industry is able to see what,which I did not see before, and find something that I did not find before, "said Gerald Shottman, Shell's technology director based in The Hague. "But we are also able to get more out of these reserves, more sensibly approaching how we deal with them."
One of the greatest achievements and methodsof oil production, which dominated the news in recent years both in positive and negative terms, was the technology of hydraulic fracturing, or cracking. In essence, this is a way of releasing hydrocarbons, enclosed in shale rocks, with the help of extremely powerful water pumps, creating a pressure of up to 14 tons per square meter. Fracture was first used in Kansas in the forties of the last century, but only recently, thanks to numerous improvements, the cost of oil production by this method has fallen so much that the technology has become economically viable. Minerals previously considered to be non-recoverable are now within our reach.
Nowhere are these achievements exploited with greaterenthusiasm than in the US. For six years, the number of barrels extracted from the Bakken formation, a shale deposit covering an area of about 518,000 square kilometers. km, stretching from Montana to North Dakota, increased 100-fold - from 6 thousand to 600 thousand a day - and made North Dakota the second largest oil producer in the United States after Texas. The population of the main city of the state of Williston over the past 10 years has grown three-fold. Here truck drivers and oil industry workers from all parts of the country suffering from the recession rushed. In North Dakota, new businesses and new hospital departments are being opened, followed by infrastructure, moaning under the weight of population influx. Groups of environmentalists have made loud anti-cracking campaigns, claiming that this technology pollutes underground water sources, causes local earthquakes and damages the environment with a large number of toxic sinks.
Supporters of cracking insist that theseDangers can be largely limited. And they point to the tremendous advantages of the revolutionary method. The boom in North Dakota and the rapid transformation of the United States from a net importer of energy to a net exporter reduced the country's dependence on the energy resources of the Middle East. The oil industry enterprises of China, Russia and Argentina, impressed by the results of the US, themselves begin to introduce this technology. The company Linc Energy announced plans to produce 233 billion barrels of oil from shale in the Australian outback.
But what to do when the oil shale is overdeposits? Fracking is just one of many remarkable breakthroughs behind a new boom. Helping to extract hard-to-recover oil, the technology has found a way to get it from a mixture with sand and clay, known as bituminous or oil-bearing sandstone, whose largest deposits are found in Canada.
Like shale, the extraction of hydrocarbons was previouslyeconomically unprofitable, but the new processes, which include steam heating of sand, made the technology more attractive. Canada currently produces up to 1.9 million barrels a day of oil produced in this way, although, like cracking, the method has caused huge protests. Al Gore, an environmental fighter, described bituminous sandstones as "the most dirty source of liquid fuel imaginable, and called plans to build a new large oil pipeline from the Alberta fields to the Texas Gulf refineries" crazy. "
The oil boom is also fueled by new, moreaccurate drilling methods. The invention of a horizontal method means that the place on the surface is a few kilometers from the target. Companies can drill down, and then turn to the side to get to the right point. The tower, located in the open sea at a distance of 500 km from the shore, can pass the rock 7 km down and 7 km to the side and exit exactly to the required place. In short, this means that it is practically impossible to drill a dry well. For example, in 2011 the success of drilling achieved success in 99% of cases.
Problems of superdeep wells
Oil companies drill more deeply thanever before. The Yastreb drilling rig on the island of Sakhalin, near the east coast of Russia, has set a lot of industrial records, including drilling a well with an ultra-long deviation of 12,345 m, which exceeds the dimensions of Mount Everest.
At the moment, simple geometry preventsdrilling to much greater depths. As explained by Lance Cook, Shell's chief operating officer in China, the wells should be reinforced with steel so that they do not collapse, but the only way to lower the steel casing is to make the diameter of each subsequent pipe slightly smaller than the previous one.
It is this that imposes limitations on the depth. "If right now the company wanted to drill a 30-kilometer well, then, say, the first casing string should be larger than the building in which I sit," says Cook.
Progress, however, is insurmountablethe momentum of moving forward, and what seems overwhelming today, tomorrow will turn out to be old-fashioned. Over the past 10 years, Shell has developed a monodiameter technology that will allow the casing to be lowered inside each other and then expand to the same dimensions. In theory, this will help to drill deeper wells, although engineers still have to figure out how to prevent the melting of pipes at such depths. By the time the oil of the available fields is over, and this problem will certainly be solved.
Search for hydrocarbons: seismic vessels
As for the question of where exactlyoil deposits are located, then the search for answers occurs constantly. Geologists, at least, know where it is not worth looking for. Hydrocarbons are formed from tiny decomposed plants, algae and bacteria that exist up to the level of the continental shelf, but never go beyond it, so oil drilling in the middle of the ocean will be meaningless.
Closer to the earth, however, so-called. seismic vessels draw from 10 to 20 cables, each 15 km in length, acoustic probing space for the presence of oil and gas fields. "However, what they are moving, they are the largest technogenic objects on Earth," says Robin Walker, vice president of marketing for WesternGeco, which owns several such ships. And they are really huge. The biggest of them, Ramform Sterling, belongs not to WesternGeco, but to the Norwegian PGS and carries 400 tons of highly sensitive electronic equipment on an area of 830 football fields.
Each seismic vessel for creation in wateracoustic pulses with compressed air uses an air gun. Sound waves are then reflected from the reefs and collected by a seismic scythe equipped with underwater microphones. By studying these data, geologists make maps of deposits and establish what they are filled with - oil, gas or simply water.
In the seventies, seismic vesselswere converted fishing boats, and the technology was only two-dimensional. Today they are built specifically, cost up to 200 million US dollars and use three-dimensional visualization, which greatly improved their accuracy. This method is not infallible. Sometimes the cables are hopelessly confused. "This is the world's largest dish of spaghetti," says Walker. - It takes several weeks to unravel them. But still the level of complexity is breathtaking. "
"What is happening there is marinethe equivalent of a space program, "says Robert Bruce, an American writer and journalist specializing in energy. "And all this is financed from private sources."
The amounts that are involved here canI want to turn my head. In total, companies engaged in exploration and production spend more than $ 1 billion in just one year. Oil company Shell, for example, pays £ 63 million for exploration rights over an area of 13,000 square meters. km off the east coast of Canada. This would not have been possible without extensive data on the availability of hydrocarbons, but in many ways the most vivid proposal in the press release announcing the deal was: "Shell stated that it remains to be determined whether its new oilfields or natural gas". How much would Shell pay if he knew for sure?
Swimming pool Santos
The competition among dealers, operators, searchers and intermediaries is extremely tough. Everyone wants to get their share, and executives are forced to buy up rights quickly.
One of the most fierce battlefields onThe last two decades are Brazil. Previously, the Santos basin, an area of the ocean 320 km southeast of São Paulo, was impossible to investigate for the presence of oil because of the thick layer of salt, as it does not transmit vibrations well. But the development of seismology suddenly made the area the target of the energy-producing corporations, and in 1999 the Petrobras oil company found a field containing about 700 million barrels.
Success in Brazil prompted geologists to look throughAtlantic Ocean in the saltwater formations of Angola. Knowing that the coast of Brazil 100 million years ago was adjacent to the West coast of Africa, they believed that such reserves may exist there. In February 2012, these theories were confirmed by the discovery of a deposit in the Kwanza basin, whose capacity is about 1.5 billion barrels. Since then, many oil companies, including BP and Total, have secured their exploration rights in Angola.
Successful bidders did not disclose the size socalled signature bonuses, but it can be safely assumed that they were huge. In 2006, Chinese giant Sinopec set a world record, paying $ 1.1 billion for one offshore section. How much of this money will be paid to the people of Angola is a controversial issue. The history of oil exploration in Africa is not very happy. The country occupies a modest 168th place out of 182 states in the corruption perception index Transparency International.
It will be naive to believe that the genie will besomeday put back in the bottle. As Robert Bryce says, the world works on oil, and the point. No other substance can compete with it when it comes to energy density, flexibility, ease of handling and ease of transportation. If oil did not exist, then it should be invented.