2003 Update


Unfortunately, and despite all the talk on the dangerous US dependence in foreign oil ...

 US energy policy has not changed much during the last 25 years.

I am an Electrical Engineer ( career site at www.Xuna.net ).  My professional fields are Telecommunications and Software.  I am neither a Chemical Engineer nor a Nuclear Scientist.  Yet, I worked in a Nuclear Center (of the US Atomic Energy Commission).  Since my adolescence I have been concerned with the fast depletion of oil (fossil) reserves.  I am -even more- preoccupied with "oil-consumption related effects" on our environment.  For instance: 

  • (a) the growing concentration of carbon dioxide in the air we breath (expect higher rates of bronchi-asthmatic cases, especially in children),
  • (b) the green-house effect, that is, the warming up of the planet (expect -within a few decades- flooding of lowland areas and much more coastline erosion),
  • (c) the carcinogenic pollutants in the environment (expect significant higher rates of several types of tumors),
  • (c) the ozone-layer depletion, implying: filtering mitigation of ultraviolet rays in the atmosphere (expect higher rates of melanoma and other skin cancers).

 I used to have carton boxes filled with newspaper cutouts, containing all kinds of data relating to this topic of "depletion of fossil fuels".   In time I will translate some of these pages into Spanish, and they will be published as well in that language, at www.Petroleos.org (domain that I own), and -hopefully with some help- someday in Arabic in www.QW8.org   (another domain I have registered to vindicate my case).

How things have changed since my article was written?   Not much at all!

We are now even more dependent on oil now that we used to be two decades ago.  We consume about 20% of the oil produced in the world. We generate 40% and we need to import 60%.  Since our fields cannot produce higher yields, we will continue importing even more as the years go by.

We continue bleeding US dollars -mostly to Arab nations- to keep our dependence going, and it is hurting our economy.  Europe and America keep on providing the acquisitive economic power to those inhabitants of the Arab nations.   This oil habit is extenuating our economy. Most oil producers have few factories, and little agricultural output.   Two decades ago, the population of the Arabian peninsula was less than 60 million.  Today, there are more than 250 million people over there, and it is estimated there will be almost 500 million by 2025.  At current production rates, they will run out of oil in a few decades, and it will be cataclysmic for our industrial societies.  It will also be devastating for these Arabic countries which used to be sparsely populated, but have now uncontrollable population growth.

India and China's standard of livings are improving, and so is Pakistan and many other Asian countries.  That is -of course- good news, no more famines expected (like the ones they used to have not too long ago, that decimated their populations every few years). Notice -though- that the 1,400,000,000 Chinese who used to drive bicycles are now buying cars.  The Chinese currency is maintained artificially low for them to continue prospering (exporting much, importing little), but sooner or later the Yuan will be allowed to float.  Demand for oil will dramatically increase!  IT IS UNAVOIDABLE !

Notice that there is not much slack in world oil production versus world oil consumption

"Hooked on Oil" could have been our national motto, although the "In God we Trust" is a pretty good one too!.  As an Atheist that I am, I could tell you that our country is trusting perhaps too much in Heaven, and very little in our talent and brains.

The only country than can increase yields -significantly- is Iraq  Our Government pushed hard for a war.  Now we will -probably- have a friendly government there willing to keep the spigots open, feeding our bad habits while we bleed our currency and disgrace our economy.

NOTE: I will not question -though- that the Iraq's Dictator was a tyrant, and that a change on that despotic regime should be welcomed by all democracies on this planet.

Our domestic oil fields are practically dry.  With tertiary recovery methods we keep on dripping a few barrels per day (15.8 bbd on average) from our rigs.  We have about 500,000 rigs in operation, that adds up to almost 8 million barrels per day. The calculated years- to- depletion for US fields is just 8 years.  Thanks to tertiary methods, the YTD has -fortunately- remained in 8 years for the last two decades (please see graphs).  That is called "being real lucky", but the cows are getting dry, and the milking is doomed.

Compare that scenario with the healthy yield of the Saudi fields.  They have less than 1,000 rigs, but each one produces almost 8,000 barrels per day (bbd).  And they could crank them up a few more notches if pressured by us, and enticed by dollars.

Are these high production rates irresponsible?    In my opinion, YES, they are!

If you ask me, I would have to say that we live in a crazy world, without much leadership!

 Dividing the Estimated Oil Reserves (EOR), by the current Yearly Production (YP) we arrive to what I called the YTD (Years to Depletion).  Please, look at those YTDs I generated on this spreadsheet:

  mill.Barrels/day bill. Barrels Years to Depletion!
Producer Yield Reserves YTD
USA 7.9 25 8.67
Russia 7.5 45 16.44
Venezuela 3.4 75 60.44
Iran 3.5 90 70.45
Saudi A. 8.2 252 84.20
UAE 2 110 150.68
Kuwait 1.8 110 167.43
Iraq 1.8 125 190.26<--will come down soon
      by: Juan Xuna


Believe it or not, Iraq is the only responsible producer (YTD: 190), but only because of the circumstances, not because of their planning or design.

If they were allowed to sell more oil in the international markets, with population pressure and after years of constrained yields they would not hold production.  Even more now that they have to rebuild their country.

Furthermore, the USA would not welcome any country not willing to sell at their highest production rate.  Even at $20 per barrel, we know it is a bargain price for this fossil liquid, a non-renewable resource.  Perrier water costs more.  Once these fields are gone, they will be so, forever. 

We need to do something about this... and quick!

The illustration above includes all types of energy, not just oil, but coal, atomic, and so forth.

We need to be self-reliant in our energy needs.  It is not going to be easy.  We need discipline!

We are not in control!

 The Arabs are !!