No Shortage of Oil
Predictions of oil supplies drying up within a few years have been common over the last 150 years, despite estimates of the total amount of oil resources still in the ground continually growing throughout the 20th century. In 1920, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the world's total store of oil amounted to 60 billion (60B) barrels. In 1950, the world's total oil endowment was estimated at around 600B barrels. From 1970 through 1990, the estimates increased to between 1,500B and 2,000B barrels. In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey raised the estimate to 2,400B barrels, and the 2000 estimate was of a 3,000B-barrel endowment. This is possible because the world's oil endowment is much larger than its oil reserves, which are identified resources that can be economically extracted and refined using current technology. As new technologies increase the amount of recoverable oil, and market prices encourage new exploration and development, the world's total endowment goes up. That does not even include unconventional oil resources like oil shales, for example, which could easily be as large as 14,000B barrels. More than 500 years of oil supply are now known to exist at 2000 production rates, and does not include other fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal.