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By: Juan Xuna. June 1979
TO THE CONGRESS AND TO THE
PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES
It seems to be difficult for humans to admit the reality
of the imminent exhaustion of oil reserves. Most people appear to be
confused by media reports on oil profiteering which only contributes to
blur their overall picture of the energy crisis.
FACTS ABOUT OIL:
* If we sum up all the scientific findings on:
- a) the organic origin and bio-chemical evolution of
- b) modern seismic studies of geological layers in the
crust of this planet,
- c) satellite picture analysis and
- d) other sophisticated oil prospecting techniques;
we can safely conclude that about 80% (and possibly even
more) of all the oil deposits in Earth have been discovered. Based
on this estimate, even a 25% error margin would not make any difference in
the truth that will be exposed in this article.
* The oil recovered from the already discovered fields
will become more difficult to obtain and consequently more expensive as
its concentration in the impregnated sands and rocks decreases.
* From -at least- 1930 on -up to 1974- oil deposits have
been found at a higher rate than have been depleted.
Statistical data confirms that in 1940 the known proved reserves were
estimated to last only 16 years (Fig 3) . In 1960 -twenty years
later- the oil reserves not only had not been depleted, but ironically
were more abundant providing for at least 38 years more in spite of more intensive
production. In 1974 proved reserves peaked at 690 billion barrels
(Fig. 1) Production in that year was also the heaviest since the beginning
of the oil explotation in 1857 in Rumania (followed in 1859 by the opening
of the famous Colonel Edwin L. Drake well, near Titusville,
* Since 1974, for the first time in history
proved-reserves were going downhill. Nevertheless production
is still increasing, fortunately at an slower pace. Most -if not all-
giant oil fields have already been discovered (see Fig. 2 for USA), that
means that the rate of discovery does not meet the rate of demand anymore.
Consequently, the expected Years To Depletion (YTD) are progressively shortened. In 1978 the
YTD ratio (Proven-Reserves divided by Yearly-Production) was 34.7
years worldwide (Fig.3)
* Most people do not follow closely enough oil
statistics , the evolution of oil events, nor the most recently developed
scientific theories on the subject. Therefore, they believe that all
that talk about oil lasting for only 34 years is the same "song and
dance" of the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's, or 1970's.
Sorry pals!! This time they are wrong, this coming
oil scarcity is unavoidable!
* You will probably think that oil -so far- has lasted
for 120 years, not so, because although the first oil-driven car was made
in 1886 by Benz, it was not until the mid 1930's that gasoline-explosion
motors acquired significant production levels, boosting oil consumption.
A person born in the 1930s can actually say that he was born at the beginning
of the oil era and probably will die at the end of it too. A historic
record will be established for the fastest depletion of a massive
source of energy.
* A few weeks ago I met a very literate person who told
me that the oil crisis was a hoax, because 3/4 of the Earth's surface
covered by oceans are practically non explored, therefore -he reasoned-
eventually they will discover huge oil deposits in he ocean's floor.
It was painful for me to have to reduce his expectations to zero. Extensive
deposits are located in the sedimentary layers of the portion of the continents
submerged in the oceans (continental shelf), which represents perhaps 5% o
the ocean floor. However the other 95% or so which is igneous rock
-rocky magma material- is hopeless. It can not possibly be penetrated by
organic greases, which are the ones that after a few million years would
become fossil oils.
We should not expect everyone to understand the
intricacies and mysteries of oil prospecting, or the geological, physical-chemical
, and thermodynamic limitations that tell us how few are the places in the
whole planet that met the required conditions to be potentially big oil
But if we can not demand of everyone to be an expert in
this matter -for God's sake- let's give more authority and decision making
power to those who know the details of this science, or at least lets hear
from them. And not from those pseudo-scientists, politicians and economists
who ignore these revealing studies an only go by their "gut
*It was unbelievable to read an article ("There
is Oil for the Asking in Them Tars Hills", written by no less
than the Chairman of the Lefrak Oils and Gas Organization (New York Times
6-8-79) where his message was: "There is oil in the United States
and we have to go out here and get it", and continues ... "Exploration
rigs are rusting from non-use".
He does not mention that the United States is milked
at a rate that makes the YTD ratio equal to 9
years, and irresponsible
sort period. Furthermore, we are over drilled too with 2.240
operating rigs in 1978, versus 1,463 operating rigs in 1974, and 1,014 in
1970. It is not from the "non use of the rigs" that we are
short of oil supplies, but because of the fact that the fields are
drying out. In 1970 -for example- the average producing well in the
USA yielded 21 barrels
per day. Almost "dried holes" when
compared with the healthy 279
barrels/day on the average well outside the United States, or the 5,512,
b/d in the Middle East wells (data from World Oil, 8-15-72)
Someday in the very near future, our children and grandchildren
will undoubtedly raise some questions to the Supreme Court -and to
Congress- on how come laws were not passed to protect their rights to a
"piece of the pie". And articles such as the one quoted
might be legally liable for misleading the public.
*Somehow, we have to inculcate an oil-conservation
mentality in our people. Even at the risk of being ostracized.
If West Germany's Energy Consumption per Capita is approximated 160
million BTUs, and Japan's 100 million, why does ours have to be 330
million BUTs per capita?
Oil companies might be making splendid profits;
OPEC might be asking unrealistic prices for their oil (although this
statement is very arguable); the President or the Congress can be wrong
right about the different oil related issues. But all these are
The fact is that the doomsday for oil richness has
arrived! No matter how much noise surrounds you, do
not let anything prevent you from getting a clear picture of the sad
reality: "Oil is not
Juan Xuna, 6/16/1979