When Fossil Fuels Run Out, What Then?

how much oil left in the world
how much oil left in the world

They are estimates, and can change each year as variables like proven reserves, production, and consumption/demand change. There’s typically a lot more discovered and undiscovered resources than there is proven reserves at any one point in time. There are a multitude of ways to describe how much oil left in the world the amount of oil remaining, but the most common is known as proved reserves. When you divide proved reserves by total production, you get the reserves-to-production ratio. This is where the 53-year estimate comes from and where that 32-year estimate originated in 1981.

  • Climate impacts on people and ecosystems are more widespread and severe than expected, and future risks will escalate rapidly with every fraction of a degree of warming.
  • For this reason, some feel that the best way is to allow the billions of people on the planet to make incremental changes over time to wean us all off the need to consume oil.
  • Costly and highly polluting reserves, such as Canada’s tar sands and Venezuelan oil, are left in the ground in the model.
  • One of the general points we make is that once easily/cheaply extractable deposits of resources like oil are exhausted, oil may simply become more expensive as new extraction activities become more costly.
  • “The implies that many operational and planned fossil fuel projects unviable,” the scientists said, meaning trillions of dollars of fossil fuel assets could become worthless.

This oil might be highly viscous and difficult to budge without thermal or chemical stimulation. Surveyors could also be eyeing a promising-looking patch of rock next to a trough that’s already been tapped, but not be sure how much useful oil is inside. The signs of decreasing demand have begun to appear in the past few years, Williams-Derry says.

How Much Fossil Fuels Are Left, & When Will We Run Out?

The conclusions of the report are “bleak” for the fossil fuel industry, implying that oil, gas and coal production must have already peaked and will decline at 3% a year from now. States that are heavily reliant on fossil fuel revenue, such as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, are at especially high risk. A minister from one Opec state recently warned of “unrest and instability” if their economies did not diversify in time.

how much oil left in the world

For example, in the global food system, climate-smart agriculture practices like shifting toagroforestrycan improve resilience to climate impacts, while simultaneously advancing mitigation. According to the MAHB, the world’s oil reserves will run out by 2052, natural gas by 2060 and coal by 2090. The U.S. Energy Information Association said in 2019 that the United States has enough natural gas to last 84 years.

So, when resources are officially converted to oil reserves, it’s usually oil that has been assessed to meet this criteria or a similar criteria that makes it extractable. However, there are a range of ‘petroleum products’ that involve the refinement of crude oil, and other elements from other raw materials, like the hydrocarbons in natural gas. “BP has provided an intriguing update to its global oil reserves estimate in the company’s latest yearly review of energy statistics.” Although efforts are being made to reduce oil consumption and develop renewable energy sources, this is unlikely to prevent resource depletion. Therefore, it is important that we start preparing for a world without oil. Although Venezuela has the most oil reserves in the world, most of its oil is offshore or far underground and is considered to be dense.

How Much Oil Is Left In The World, & When Will We Run Out?

Join us on March 23 for a high-level webinar featuring IPCC authors, government representatives and leading carbon removal experts to discuss how carbon removal is a critical tool in our toolbox to address the climate crisis. Climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation must increase dramatically this decade. These deposits could be in locations too remote or in rock too solid to drill. Much of the crude in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico was once “probable,” but more-​precise drilling techniques goosed it into the proven realm.

This means more heat from the Earth’s interior can be conducted to the surface, causing the land and the ocean to warm. We looked at warming trends in oil and gas producing regions across the world. As in other human activities, oil extraction begins with the “easiest” parts of a deposit—the places where there is the most oil that is easy to pump out of the ground.

Venezuela has the largest amount of oil reserves in the world with more than 300 billion barrels in reserve. Saudi Arabia has the second-largest amount of oil reserves in the world with 297.5 billion barrels. Despite Venezuela’s massive supply of natural resources, the country still struggles economically. Venezuela and Saudi Arabia have populations of comparable size; however, Saudi Arabia’s economy is twice as large. One of the main reasons for this disparity is the accessibility of each country’s oil reserves.

Another avenue to explore is to recycle somehow or reuse existing oil-derived products. Since there is a substantial potential treasure trove of source material in landfills, this could prove to be a very useful way of still sort of using oil without needing to extract the “virgin” crude oil. They have opened a new biotechnology campus in the U.S., which will be the first one in the U.S. to make commercial-scale renewable BDO using Genomatica’s GENO BDO process. The facility will be able to produce more than 65,000 tonnes of BDO annually after it is finished in 2024. The capacity for producing bioBDO will be increased threefold as a result. One example, Bio-BDO (1,4-butanediol), has been developed by Genomatica as a natural, sustainable substitute for current petrochemicals.

It might be the raw resource for making parts, like plastic components or chemicals, or oil derivatives that will transport some parts from suppliers or the ultimate customer. If society and technology haven’t changed enough to make a complete switch away from oil by the time this happens, the effects will be enormous. Oil literally and figuratively fuelled most of the world’s modern economies. As it happens, according to the Energy Information Authority , the United States has somewhere in the region of 373 billion barrels of TRR oil.

However, since around 50 percent of all oil is used for fuel, potential development solutions are already in place. Nuclear power plants, renewable energy sources, and biofuels already exist and can readily be used to provide heating and power for many nations worldwide. Crude oil will only continue to be extracted so long as it is profitable to do so. Fortunately, the IPCC identifies a range of measures that can support a just transition and help ensure that no one is left behind as the world moves toward a net-zero-emissions, climate-resilient future. Such programs are particularly effective when paired with efforts to expand access to infrastructure and basic services. Deep decarbonization across all systems while building resilience won’t be enough to achieve global climate goals, though.

how much oil left in the world

Producers like the CAPP have greatly improved their technological capacity over the past few decades which, by extension, has necessarily increased Canada’s proven reserves as a consequence. How you think about this might, ultimately, all come down to whether you are a pessimist or an optimist at heart. The former will adamantly believe that because there is only a limited amount of stuff humans could ever get our hands-on , then resources must, by definition, be limited. This is especially true if our consumption of a material exceeds the rate of its replenishment. It is this fact that basically determines if a resource is considered “renewable” or not. Only estimates might be able to be made, and they can change as factors like proven reserve totals, production totals, and consumption totals change year to year.

So, for all intents and purposes, gold is effectively in infinite supply, albeit rare. The world energy demand will grow by 1/3 through 2040, driven mostly by rising consumption in transportation in China, India and parts of Asia. Oil/petroleum is one of the main sources of fuel for conventional vehicles and other types of transport in the world.

How much fuel is left in the world?

There’s a range of reasons that reserve estimates change from year to year. It’s also worth noting that there’s a difference between running out of oil on a worldwide level, and an individual country running out of uranium. Most of the oil consumed in the world is used to produce fuel for cars, trucks and planes. Oil is also used to produce a wide variety of chemicals, including plastics, man-made fibers, and detergents. Its latest report finds companies risk wasting more than a trillion dollars on projects incompatible with a low-carbon world, with ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell most exposed. While the short-lived decline of U.S. oil futures below negative-$40 a barrel is not likely to be repeated in 2021, new lockdowns and a phased rollout of vaccines to treat the virus will restrain demand next year, and perhaps beyond.

Big Findings from the 2023 IPCC Report on Climate Change

They then drop rapidly, declining 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035, relative to 2019 levels. Human-induced global warming of 1.1 degrees C has spurred changes to the Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in recent human history. But the IPCC also offers hope, highlighting pathways to avoid these intensifying risks. It identifies readily available, and in some cases, highly cost-effective actions that can be undertaken now to reduce GHG emissions, scale up carbon removal and build resilience. While the window to address the climate crisis is rapidly closing, the IPCC affirms that we can still secure a safe, livable future. When oil and gas is extracted, the voids fill with water, which is a less effective insulator.

That equates to somewhere in the region of 1.65 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves. Other sources up this estimate a bit, but most agree we have around 50 years left, give or take. Similar to unconventional natural gas resources, unconventional oil resources might be difficult to reach from an extraction point of view, and may not be economically feasible to extract with current technology and processes. The total amount of oil resources that are yet to become proven reserves are estimated into the hundreds of billions of barrels according to some reports.

Oil can last up to 50 years, natural gas up to 53 years, and coal up to 114 years. Yet, renewable energy is not popular enough, so emptying our reserves can speed up. We can get our data from a variety of sources, from the largest government bodies to small independent niche oil supply monitoring specialists. The question of how much oil is left in the world has been speculated upon for a long as the industry has existed. Compares to “cold molasses,” has greatly increased its technological capacity over the past few decades, thereby increasing proved reserves substantially in Canada. Other technological developments in recent decades, such as horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing , have also contributed to increasing the world’s proved reserves despite an increase in global consumption .

Let’s look at why these numbers have been misleading for so long and why today’s current projection of 53 years of oil remaining — based on recent numbers from BP– is likely wrong as well. Mortality from storms, floods and droughts, for instance, was 15 times higher in countries with high vulnerability to climate change than in those with very low vulnerability from 2010 to 2020. While fossil fuels are the number one source of GHG emissions, deep emission cuts are necessary across all of society to combat the climate crisis. Power generation, buildings, industry, and transport are responsible for close to 80% of global emissions while agriculture, forestry and other land uses account for the remainder. There is no universally agreed timeframe as to when these will deplete, but it is generally accepted that if we continue burning fossil fuels at the current rate, they will be gone at some point this century.

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But, if this technology continues to develop, it may partially help with some future oil supply issues. This is something we mentioned in our guide about why we may not run out of mined resources anytime soon. In 2022, they outline how global oil markets, specifically oil prices, were impacted by activity between Russia and Ukraine.

More interestingly though, humans have even found ways to create artificial versions, or alternatives, of “living” natural resources. We’ll let you decide if such things are technically the same as the original or not. The main thing to understand is that resources are only really as limited as our imagination. After all, mass can neither be created nor destroyed, only converted. Even processes like nuclear fission, or indeed fusion, could, theoretically, be reversed, although it would take a lot of energy to do so. Some researchers are already working on ways to convert plastic bags back into oil.

If we ever did run out of something like copper on Earth, we could, with enough effort, “pop-out” to space and get some from another planet or asteroid. We’ve been doing it for as long as our species has existed, and will continue to do so into the distant future. The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt. Therefore, the information contained in the guide above is relevant to whether we might run out of fuel. There’s also alternate fuel and alternate energy vehicles to consider.

Climate impacts on people and ecosystems are more widespread and severe than expected, and future risks will escalate rapidly with every fraction of a degree of warming. And natural gas is key to making some fertilizers, which, if gone, would cripple food production around the globe. The Union of Concerned Scientists believes there is enough coal to last about 150 years, while natural gases could last up to 50 years. Document by the EIA, compared to only 42 billion barrels of proved reserves.

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