Peak Oil News: Oil supply has us over a barrel

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Oil supply has us over a barrel

Alameda Times-Star

In 1971, a year before Texas output passed its peak, U.S. production was more than two-thirds of the nation's needs. Today the nation imports 54 percent of the oil it uses. M.A. Adelman of MIT notes that in 1971 non-OPEC countries had about 200 billion barrels of proven reserves. In the next 33 years they produced 460 billion "and now have 209 billion 'remaining.'" Note Adelman's quotation marks. To predict actual reserves would require predicting future exploration and development technologies.

However, the rate of discovery has been declining for several decades. Of course, oil supplies are, as some people say with a sense of profound discovery, "finite." But that distinguishes oil not at all from land, water or pistachio nuts.

Russell Roberts, an economist, says: Imagine that you love pistachio nuts and are given a room filled 5 feet deep with them. But you must eat them in the room and must leave the shells. When will you have eaten them all? Never. Because as it becomes increasingly difficult to find nuts amidst the shells, the cost of the nuts, in time and effort, will become too high. You will seek a substitute -- pistachios from a store, or another snack.


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