The Oil & Gas Crash and You
November 22, 2003
Inadequacy of expected solutions
How it will affect us
Public Warning is so Late
You Can Do
More Information and Contacts
Oil & Gas Shortages
Soon, Final Emptying of Wells
This document reveals that in this
- After a hundred years of exploration and extraction very
little new oil and gas is being found. See graph. Today, for every barrel of
oil discovered, the world consumes four barrels.
- When energy get scarcer and dearer there is very serious
disruption of transport, industry, business, government and private life.
Serious shortages and disruptions
- Globally, 90% of transport (road/rail/air/sea) depends
on oil. So does industrial & farm equipment (food).
- Much natural gas is used by power generating stations to
generate electricity. Gas shortages can therefore trigger grid outages that
disable computers, communications and electronic control equipment.
- More than 500,000 oil & gas-based products will also
become scarcer and dearer: plastics, clothing, asphalt,
tyres, medicines, sealants, inks.
Alternative energy sources cannot compensate
- Hydrogen is not the answer because it is actually made
from natural gas, which itself is running out.
- Hydroelectricity, coal, nuclear, windmills, solar etc.
cannot be increased sufficiently in time to prevent seriously disruptive
shortages of energy.
- Changeovers take years. Our immense existing
infrastructure was built assuming plentiful fuels. (Cars, globalization,
suburbs, arctic/tropical cities.)
- Changeovers demand fuels to implement them too.
- Coal, nuclear, oilsands etc
involve serious pollution of air/water/soil. They use oil/gas/electricity to
- The energy decline is strange, unwelcome news to the
public. There is confusion, resistance and delay.
Evidence of decline of oil and gas
Some people still say oil and gas
are abundant, and that money and technology will meet needs for decades. But oil
and gas industry data show:
- A clear, 40-year trend of less and less discovery of
oil. (See graph at top of this page.)
- In regions including USA, the North Sea, Norway, New
Zealand there is obvious decline of oil and gas.
- Global oil supply is 70% from pre-1972 wells
- Steadily decreasing output from the existing wells.
- Big military takeovers of oil & gas resources.
Timing and severity
- North America’s gas supply: Start of decline:
about 2003 - 2004. Electricity is 20% gas-powered. Grid blackouts, brownouts
in North American workplaces, cities, homes, Internet system, economy.
Importing gas is seriously constricted by lack of ships and suitable port
- Global oil supply: ‘Conventional’
(easy-to-extract) oil: Decline from about 2005 on. Expect higher prices not
only for fuels, but all goods and services because all require energy to
create and deliver them.
‘Unconventional oil’ (Expensive deep sea, polar, etc): Decline
about 3% a year from 2009 on.
- Competition: Prices are affected by fierce global
competition for oil and gas. Scarcity for one kind of energy also raises the
price of the other forms, such as electricity or coal.
- Duration of decline: Forever. Oil and gas took
millions of years to form, in extremely rare conditions. Regeneration rate is
World now consumes four barrels of oil for each
- Barrels consumed globally/year: 28 billion
- Barrels discovered globally per year: 6
billion of “conventional” plus 8 billion deep sea,
oil sands etc. Discovery of oil fluctuates each year, but peaked in the 1960s,
and has declined at an average of about 9 billion barrels per year over the
past 40 years.
- Pre-1973-discovered oil in use today: More than
70% of present global supply.
We've mostly just been using up huge old oil fields.
USA during the 15years
5 billion barrels
(40 billion barrels more than discovered)
92 billion (47 billion were imported)
World during the 10years
(130 billion barrels more than discovered
(equal to all extracted)
Those figures, & the
above graph of discoveries are at:<
Proportion of global energy provided by oil
- In developed countries 40% (1997)
The "invest more to find it" idea
Yet-to-be located oil, globally
After a century of exploration, the earth's geology and oil resources are
generally well known. When the fields are emptying, money only helps to scrape
out the hard-to-reach remainder. There are 210 billion barrels left to discover
and 1000 billion barrels left to extract. This is indicated by the 40-year
decline in discovery of oil. No amount of money will create oil that simply
Number of oil wells already in world/USA
More than 500,000. In
USA, 80% of the wells now produce
less than three barrels a day.
Percentage of oil recovered from a typical oil
20% to 60%. It relates primarily to the viscosity of the oil. You get less
from a heavy oil than a light one because it sticks
in the reservoir.
"Technology will solve it" idea
Challenge to technology
To compensate for the expected 3% oil decline (at today's 28 billion barrels
a year), create and install, by year 2009, permanent supplies of portable
energy, equivalent to 840 million barrels of oil a year. Then as oil keeps
declining forever, increase this new energy it until it replaces 40% of the
world's oil supply (22 billion barrels a year) OR reduce energy demand
equivalently as the global population increases by almost a quarter million
people every day.
The "better efficiency" idea
Increases in efficiency usually fail to reduce consumption (more m.p.g. just
causes people to travel more or buy two cars, or other goods) unless they are
personally determined to reduce energy consumption.
What about nuclear power?
Nuclear supplies 16% of the world’s electricity. Its
ability to soften the oil and gas crash is problematic:
Past accidents. Risk of more, and terrorism.
Many more reactors would be needed, at huge cost, against local
Tons of radioactive materials to transport at risk to public.
Nuclear waste disposal is still the major, unresolved problem, especially
breeder reactors producing plutonium - a nuclear weapon/terrorist raw material,
half-life contamination is 24,000 years.
All abandoned reactors are radioactive for decades or millennia.
Nuclear is not directly suitable for aircraft and vehicles.
Adapting nuclear to make hydrogen or other fuels would be a huge, and
Nuclear fusion is still not available, after 40 years' research and
billions of dollars invested.
Proportion of global energy provided by gas
20% of global energy supply (1997).
Natural gas is also running short
North America is already outstripping supply, especially
as power utilities take the remaining gas to generate electricity. Later in this
web page there is a graph suggesting important effects of gas decline on the
electricity used for computers, communications and control equipment.
Gas is not suited for existing jet aircraft, ships, vehicles, and equipment
for agriculture and other products. Conversion consumes large amounts of energy
and money. Natural gas also does not provide the huge array of chemical
by-products that we currently get from oil.
Present use: 2.3% of global energy supply (1997). Many rivers are
As a replacement for oil:
Very minor compared with 40% provided at present by oil.
Unsuitable for aircraft and the present 800 million existing fuel-powered cars.
Current global use
24% of global energy supply.
As a replacement for oil
Is 50% to 200% heavier than oil per energy unit.
Bulky and dirty. Expansion of coal mining, causes
land ruin, and increases greenhouse gas emissions.
Hard to fine-control the rate of burn
Tuning the rate of burn of oil and gas fuels is easy, but coal is different.
It is therefore is used in power stations to make electricity, wasting half of
its energy content.
Coal mining operations run on oil fuels
Present coal-mining machinery and transportation runs not on coal, but on
A single coal-fired station can produce a million tons of solid waste each
year. Burning coal in homes pollutes air with acrid smog containing acid gases
and particles. (Smog, greenhouse gases, and acid rain).
Liquid fuels from coal
Very inefficient, and huge
amounts of water required.
Solar and wind
Global solar use
- Is about 0.006% of global energy
supply. Energy varies constantly with weather or day/night. Not
storable or portable energy like oil or natural gas so unsuited for present
vehicles and industry. Batteries bulky, expensive, wear out in 5-10 years.
- Photovoltaic solar equipment (US$4/watt) is about 15%
efficient, giving about 100 watts of the 1 kW per square meter exposed to
bright sunshine (enough for one light bulb). A typical solar water panel array
can deliver 50% to 85% of a home's hot water though.
- Using some of our precious remaining crude oil as fuel
to manufacture solar & wind equipment may be wise.
Global wind power use
0.07% of 1990 global energy supply. As with solar, energy varies greatly with
weather, and is not portable or storable like oil and gas. Each wind turbine
Denmark produces an average of 698
kW averaged over a year.
Current global use
US (only) 1998 consumption is 0.01% of global energy.
As a replacement for oil
- Hydrogen is currently manufactured as from natural gas,
which is running short. It is therefore an energy "carrier" not a source.
- It can be produced in other ways, such as electrolysis,
but always with a loss of the energy needed to do
that. Usually it is better to simply use the original energy directly.
Other sources of energy
Shale, tar sand, coalbed
methane, ethanol, biomass (from vegetation), etc.
Effectiveness as replacements for oil
- Huge investment in research and
infrastructure to exploit them, plus large amounts of now-expiring oil supply.
- A major problem is that they cannot be exploited before
the oil shocks cripple attempts to bring them on line, and the rate of
extraction is far too slow to meet the huge global energy demand.
Food production & delivery depends on oil
Food grains now contain between 4 and 10 calories of
fossil fuel for every 1 calorie of solar energy. Example: 4% of USA’s
energy budget is used to grow food, while 10 to 13 percent is needed to process
it and transport it onto plates.
Fertilizers are made from natural gas. Grain yield without
fossil fuel support can fall from 130 bushels/acre
down to 30 bushels/acre.
The worsening fuel shortages will make agriculture increasingly expensive and
land-needy. Localizing agriculture closer to cities will help, as will
grain used to feed cattle
The meat feeds 1/5 as many people as the grain could.
Number of cats & dogs in
Food given to pets
North American pet food business is $30 billion/yr, and is growing.
"Future food" being consumed by using gasoline in
Gasoline consumed 'now' will deprive future agriculture of energy for
producing food. Below are examples of how much "future food" a 30
mile-per-gallon vehicle is "eating" now. Also shown is the heavy physical labor
humans will have to do in future when gasoline is unavailable for
- Bread, 1 kg loaf = 6 miles = one slice per 422 yards That
1/5 gallon = human heavy farm labor for 23 hrs.
- Beef, 1 kg = consumed by driving 76.2 miles That 2.5
gallon = human heavy farm labor 300 hrs.
- Canned corn 1 kg = consumed by driving 5.4 miles Again,
1/5 gallon = human heavy farm labor 20 hrs.
Transportation, Business, Globalization
Oil for transportation
- Automobiles, globally: 722 million
- Automobiles, USA: 132 million
- Trucks (all types) in USA: 1.5 million (all types)
- Buses: (all types) in USA:: more than 654,000
- Locomotives: USA: 26,000
- World aircraft fleet: 11,000 aircraft of more
than 100 passengers. All 11,000 designed for oil-based fuel.
- World shipping: 85,000 ships in world.
- Decked fishing boats in the world: 1.2 million
Will end. (Fuel costs &
Oil for industry
Construction industry example: Energy to build an energy-efficient home is
equivalent to 6,500 gallons of gasoline.
Number of by-products of oil
Over 500,000 including fertilizers, medicines, lubricants, plastics
(computers, phones, shower curtains, disposables, toys, etc.), asphalt (roading
and roofs), insulation, glues/paints/ caulking, (modern synthetic rubber) tires
and boots, carpets, synthetic fabrics/clothing, stockings, insect repellent.
Government Services, Economy
City drinking water, government services
- Number of cities in the world: over 55,000
- Services to consider: Water supply pumping, sewage
disposal, garbage disposal, street/park maintenance, hospitals & health
systems, police, fire services. National defense (land, sea, air).
- Possibility of wars over remaining oil.
Economy and employment
- International oil import costs: Sharp rises (increasing
global competition for dwindling oil & gas of five Middle-Eastern countries
and former Soviet Union. International tensions.
- National debt, inflation: Money goes out of country, to
oil producers. Money gets scarce. Interest/mortgages rise. Government prints
more money to pay overseas energy bills. Money devalues. Inflation. Prices
- Poverty: Public, and
businesses become poorer paying higher energy costs. Less spending, less
sales. Layoffs. Unemployment.
- Welfare costs up, taxes up. Therefore taxes up. Pensions
for aging/disabled reduced or discontinued, and devalued by inflation.
- People will migrate away from hardship into less
uncomfortable areas. Locally, regionally, globally.
Other serious quality-of-life aspects
- Heating and cooling: In cold regions oil heats buildings
(burned as fuel in homes or in oil-fired electric power stations). In hot
areas oil power provides air conditioning. As natural gas is substituted for
oil, the gas price will rise too.
- Smog: Energy price and shortages will increase wood and
coal burning in homes, increasing city smog.
Normal business and political posturing
For business and political reasons, there have been very misleading reports
of sizes of stocks of oil:
(a) By firstly understating discoveries, and then later overstating
discoveries, oil companies have given the false, but pleasing impression of an
increasing discovery trend. Investors respond accordingly, and finance more
(b) The seven major oil-extracting countries have for years reported
unchanged reserves (even though they were extracting and selling billions of
barrels of oil, and that the reserves would therefore be less each year). See
table of "spurious reserve revisions" shown below.
(c) In 1988 five of those countries claimed they each had
about twice as much reserve oil as in 1987. See graph below, based on
tables from <
The table's green areas show where countries reported that their
oil stocks were "not declining", even though oil was being taken out, steadily
emptying the wells.
The red areas show where countries spectacularly increased the
reported quantities of oil in stock, so that OPEC would recognize them as bigger
suppliers and allow them to export more, increasing revenues. They were
desperately competing with each other to make up their revenue by having a
bigger slice of market share, because the price per barrel had plunged to about
$12 per barrel. The history graph of the prices is at <
(d) We, the public have enjoyed using up the gasoline, heating oil, plastics,
and countless other oil products for decades. The oil kept flowing generously.
We "looked on the bright side" and mostly ignored warnings by environmentalists
that fossil fuels would run out. Media constantly announced new oil discoveries,
and increasing stocks of oil. Emptying wells seemed decades in the future.
Nobody planned for it. Now they really are running empty.
(e) OPEC countries need to earn as much oil revenue as possible to support
rapidly growing populations where the public health care, education and other
services are provided free, from oil revenues, not by taxes. They seem
especially frightened of alternative energy sources, even though when examined
closely, those alternative sources are drastically too small to compensate for
oil. "As a group of fossil fuel exporters, OPEC stands to lose more than most
from any proposals that threatens to cut oil consumption," -
Rilwanu Lukman, the
Secretary General of OPEC, speaking at the 16th World Petroleum Congress,
Calgary, 2000. (Globe & Mail Newspaper,
June 5, 2000.)
Economic theory says exhausted resources always
Economists have taught us the illusory theory that market demand will always
generate suitable solutions. This ignores any physical limitations of the earth,
human resourcefulness, or time needed. Example quote:
"Minerals are inexhaustible and will never be depleted. A stream of
investment creates additions to proved reserves, a
very large in-ground inventory, constantly renewed as it is extracted… How much
was in the ground at the start and how much will be left at the end are unknown
That is from Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Morry
Adelman, who has long been one of the world's
foremost energy and resource economists and a leading analyst of international
oil and gas markets. The quote is on page xi of his book, The Economics of
Petroleum Supply, M.A. Adelman, published 1993.
Reduce energy dependence of family, home, lifestyle.
The less fuels and goods you consume, the less affected you will be..
Observe, reduce energy need. Talk with friends, workmates, neighborhood,
city, governments. The ideal use for remaining oil and mineral reserves is into
industries that create inexhaustible alternative energy equipment like
windmills, solar water heaters, biomass (vegetation that creates fuels), etc.
Share your feeling with others
Try to stay positive and active rather than ignore it or blame people for it.
Where there's life there's hope, especially if we all collaborate and are
"It's not that new". Humans have always faced hardships, and many among us do
so constantly now. Learn from them.
Possible emergency measures to consider
- Alert the public so people understand the energy decline
and cooperate to adapt to it. This includes alerting your city council and
local media, the government. Everyone needs to collaborate, at all levels.
- Prepare the community for conserving and rationing of
dwindling fuels & oil/gas-derived products.
- Discontinue projects that assume abundant fuel, such as
road widening, overseas trade
- Re-localize life, business. Un-globalize
- Relocate food production nearer to cities
- Population control to prevent children being born into
extremely harsh conditions that seem likely, and to conserve soon-scarce
resources for those already alive.
- Reconsider immigration, which adds load.
- Strengthen the police and army to deal with social chaos
& to control distribution of supplies.
- Alert national leaders to organize well against this
major threat that faces us all.
You can obtain two versions of this document “The Oil & Gas Crash and You”:
- "Shorter Version", available as a two-sided, one-sheet
handbill that you can give to other people (It contains most of the contents
of this web page). < http://www.geocities.com/RunningOnEmptyNZ/_FactSheet.doc
- "Full version", a 12-page resource for researchers and
journalists, containing extra references and authorities, and more
explanations and links. < http://www.geocities.com/RunningOnEmptyNZ/OCAY19.doc
- < http://www.hubbertpeak.com/duncan/olduvai2000.htm >
The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the
Olduvai Gorge, by Richard C. Duncan, Ph.D.
Pardee Keynote Symposia Geological Society of America Summit 2000 Reno,
Nevada November 13, 2000.
This paper suggests that decline of natural gas may
be the most disastrous event from year. 2007 (or sooner, see updates) because of
resultant shortage of electricity for computers, communications and control
The following sites are conveniently keyword-searchable for research. They
have lots of scientific and oil industry literature about energy resources and
the ecology generally. They are heavily annotated with authoritative references
- < http://www.hubbertpeak.com/ > Named after the late Dr.
M. King Hubbert, geophysicist, this website
provides data, analysis and recommendations regarding the upcoming peak in the
rate of global oil extraction.
- < http://www.dieoff.org/ > This
untidy, emotional site is nevertheless a very large, valuable resource. It's
full of reputable energy-related and environment-related reports and papers,
conveniently assembled in one place by researcher Jay Hanson.
- < www.oilcrash.com > is a New Zealand activist website
operated by Robert Atack. It is especially useful
for downloading audio and video recordings of the world’s most prominent
speakers as they notify the public about the decline of oil and gas, and the
Discussion forum - Technical/scientific
< http://groups.yahoo.com/group/energyresources > (restricted membership at
about 450, to prevent newcomers posting material already discussed, but there
are ten thousand previous postings keyword searchable.)
Discussion forum - Implications, action
< http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RunningOnEmpty2 >..which
is the current discussion group.
< http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RunningOnEmpty >...which is
now closed, but there are ten thousand previous postings in the archives for
researchers by keyword search. Monitored the energy decline by featuring news
items about it, and discussed countless implications at personal and societal
level. Membership by request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
< http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RunningOnEmpty2OnEmpty2 >
After 10,000 messages in RunningOnEmpty,
this group has continued the discussion, reserving the original
egroup as a VIP conference
egroup, and as an archive.
< http://www.egroups.com/group/RunningOnEmptyNZ2 >is a small group for New
Zealanders. It is a small spinoff from the
Author of “The Oil & Gas Crash and You”
Bruce Thomson, who is a technical writer in Palmerston
He moderated the original RunningOnEmpty group, and
is the moderator of that RunningOnEmptyNZ2 internet forum. There is no
institutional financial sponsoring or influence of this web page or the forum.
Some moral authority to expose the Convince Sheet to the public was gained.
After weeks of debate (3,100 forum message) there was a poll of 280 members. We
all knew the announcement would be disturbing, with possibly serious impacts on
the public, the stock market and general business and personal confidence. Of
those 280 polled, 62 members responded, and over 85% of them voted in favor of
exposing the truth.
Perceived advantages of informing the public were
- People might cooperate better with governments,
instead of innocently demanding more energy or insisting on lower fuel
taxes (As fuel imports cost more and more, cutting taxes will just impoverish
governments, and cause cuts in services like health care, education and social
welfare. A great deal of energy conservation is possible, and is a better
- People can make correct decisions for themselves
personally (to have less children, plan cheaper transport, safer jobs, pay
off debts, consume less, conserve energy more, etc.
- All the cleverest minds and wisest leaders of the world
could work on the problem. With them helping, and an understanding public, we
might fare better than if everyone continues innocently wasting the remaining
energy and bringing the oil and gas crash to us faster and sooner.
You may copy freely to others...
There are no political or commercial allegiances associated
with this document it was created as a personal enquiry, and in the public
[MFS note: you,
the visitor, thank you!, are at one of the United States and worlds' best
sources for energy information.]
Used with permission of Bruce Thompson.
* This FactSheet can be printed in its entirety and distributed free-of-charge
for informational and non-commercial purposes.