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Extreme oil: Scraping the bottom of Earth's barrel

发布时间:2017-12-21 05:01:24来源:未知点击:

By David Strahan Editorial: Plenty more oil, but use it wisely EIGHTY-FIVE million barrels. That’s how much oil we consume every day. It’s a staggering amount – enough to fill over 5400 Olympic swimming pools – and demand is expected to keep on rising, despite the impending supply crunch. The International Energy Agency forecasts that by 2030 it will rise to about 105 million barrels per day with a commensurate increase in production (see graph), although whistle-blowers recently told The Guardian newspaper in London that insiders at the IEA believe the agency vastly over-estimates our chances of plugging that gap. The agency officially denies this. Wherever the truth lies, it is widely expected that by 2030 we will have passed the peak of conventional oil production – the moment that output from conventional oil reserves goes into terminal decline. A report from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) published in August said there was a “significant risk” it would happen before 2020. And that means we will soon be staring down the barrel of the ultimate oil crisis. Some governments and corporations are waking up to the idea and beginning to develop alternatives to keep the world’s transport systems moving when cheap oil runs out. These include biofuels, more energy-efficient – or electric – cars, and hydrogen. But none of these is likely to make up the global shortfall in time. The pressure is on to keep the black stuff flowing and so the next two decades will see an unprecedented effort to exploit increasingly exotic and unconventional sources of oil. They include tar sands (a mixture of sand or clay and a viscous,