Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Story of Oil

Native Americans for centuries have used oil as a medicine and for waterproofing of canoes as well other objects.

The first discovery of oil by Europeans from North America probably came in 1627 by a Franciscan missionary traveling near Cuba, New York. In 1821, William Hart drilled for and discovered gas at Fredonia, New York, near the shores of Lake Erie, making him the first to do so. A primitive pipeline was constructed from hollowed-out logs, and soon the entire main street was illuminated by natural gas.

On January 10, 1901, on a small hill in southeastern Texas, after drilling down to a depth of 1,020 feet, mud started bubbling back up the hole. Seconds later, the drill pipe shot out of the ground with great force. Then a noise like a cannon shot came from the hole, and mud came shooting out of the ground like a rocket. Within a few seconds, natural gas, then oil followed.

The first oil "gusher" - greenish-black in color, rose double the size of the drilling derrick, rising to a height of more than 150 feet. This was more oil than had ever been seen anywhere in the entire world. flowing at an initial rate of nearly 100,000 barrels per day. This amount, while small today, was at the time more oil than all of the other producing wells in the United States COMBINED!

Since that time, geologists have mapped over 95% of the earth's surface and have estimated that the "total" amount of oil that was in the ground is approximately 2,000,000,000,000 - two trillion barrels. That sound like a lot of oil, and it is. It is also unbelievable to consider, that in the last 100 years humanity has consumed about half of this oil - about 1 trillion barrels of oil.

So much of the debate today is weather we are going to run out of oil or if we have reached a peak in production and what effects that may have on our lifestyles. Let me be perfectly clear, humanity will NEVER run out of oil. There is lots more of it. The challenge facing us is that we have located and pumped out almost all of the easy to find oil.
We are at the end of the age of inexpensive oil.
The oil which remains is both very hard to reach and is of a much lower quality than what we have been pumping for the past 100 years. If people are willing to pay $7.00 a gallon for their gas it will be available but a lot of folks will not be able to afford to drive at that price. Oil priced at $200 or more per barrel will increase the cost of everything that uses oil in its production or transportation... and that covers almost everything these days.

We live in interesting times and from my perspective, it is only going to get much more interesting.

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