Can technology help find oil fast enough?
Technology is expanding the definition of oil. Vast deposits of oil shale and tar sands â- formations of oil-saturated rock and sand â- have until recently been uneconomic to produce. But as recovery methods improve, and oil prices rise, production of this so-called âsyntheticâ oil has increased. New technologies are also being developed to extract natural gas from coal -â which remains plentiful in the U.S.
Still, even the most ardent proponents of technology say thereâs no guarantee that advances will come fast enough and be applied quickly enough to head off the possibility of oil shortages in the future. But they note that most of the major increases in discovery and production in this century have been associated with major breakthroughs that open up new supplies.
âWhat we saw as a limitation 20 years ago is no longer a limitation now,â said Sare. âSo whoâs to say in 20 years whether our current limitations will be relevant?â