chapter  4
13 Pages

The earth is finite and other irrelevancies about the world’s ultimate oil supply

ByFRED GOTTHEIL

The conventional wisdom associated with the history of oil discovery and production and with estimating the world’s ultimate oil supply is anchored in a mindset that accepts the idea that there’s not much oil left and that finding it has become as difficult as finding that needle in a haystack. A substitute explanation of that history is anchored in the idea that the oil is there, in abundance, but that we are just not looking for it. Moreover, not looking makes perfect economic sense for those not looking. The idea that’s there not much oil left may be the more intuitively correct of the two proposed. Because planet Earth has finite dimensions, it stands to reason that there must also be some finite dimension to everything on or in it, including oil. Theoretically, then, we can run out of it. But does theory trump reality? After all, oil is no less buried away somewhere than is that needle in the haystack. There may be oceans of oil still undiscovered and untouched. There are 150 million m2 of land mass on planet Earth and even greater areas of ocean floor. That’s a mighty large haystack! The bedrock question then is: How much recoverable oil is left on planet Earth?1