Lots Of Oil Remaining, But It's Heavy & Expensive

Half the oil in the Persian Gulf has been pumped out of the ground - so has 'peak oil' been reached? Notably, that term doesn't even appear in the article. Instead, it discusses the difference between light and heavy oil, and the role of technology

1 minute read

May 25, 2011, 12:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


"The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are some three trillion barrels of heavy oil in the world, about 100 years of global consumption at current levels. The catch: Only a fraction of it-about 400 billion barrels-can be recovered using existing technology."

Which bring us to the Arabian Peninsula - a project in the Wafra oil field, largely undertaken by Chevron Corp., may determine how successful the extraction of heavy (as thick as molasses) oil will be. Wafra's prize is 25 billion barrels of heavy oil.

"The Middle East alone is believed to hold some 78 billion barrels of heavy oil that is currently recoverable, more than three-and-a-half times the U.S.'s total."

Since the era of light oil may be ending - due to the more expensive extraction and refining costs of heavy oil, it's clear that the era of cheap oil is ending as well. In addition, the world will be more dependent on OPEC sources of heavy oil.

Editor's Note: The WSJ link may be available for a limited amount of time without a subscription.

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 in The Wall Street Journal - Business

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