In recent weeks, I have seen articles stating that petroleum useage is WAY up in places like Russian, india, Indonisia, etc. Indonisia, once a huge exporter of pertoleum, is now having to import diesel fuel. In Russia, the emergence of an affluent middle class has sent car sales skyrocketing-new car sales are up 50%. So in addition to the USA’s huge apetite for oil, we now have many nations with growing home markets. This all adds up to increasing pressure on oil supplies. So, is it possible that we will see production declines within years 9not decades)? And, (ominously0, what happens when the smaller oil producers 9like Mexico, Ghana, etc.) become net importers?
Isn’t this because of a lack of refining capacity?
Nope. As people are prepared to pay more for oil, so reserves that are more expensive to exploit - like the shales in Canada - become economic, and major consumers like power stations will switch from oil and gas to nuclear, wind, solar, or whatever.
Add in one factor, that the estimates of oil reserves is never the same for long. How can you predict anything, when a consensus on quantity doesn’t exist?
An additional, somewhat related question:
Although I know we can’t exactly synthesize crude oil, we can get some sort of liquid fuel out (ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, etc.) of pretty much any biomatter, correct? What would be the estimated price point of oil where it becomes more economical to convert populations of third world countries into fuel instead of attempting to extract it from the ground?
The idea is not exactly new: I refer you to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick
Crude oil (or at least the useful parts of) can be synthesized by means of the Fischer-Tropsch Process - it can use coal, natural gas, or other mostly carbon sources. Both the Germans during WWII & South Africans during the Apartheid era used this heavily, and South Africa Sasol company is currently producing most of SA’s diesel fuel from coal & natural gas.
There is also a process called Thermal Depolmerization that can convert organic material into useful hydrocarbons. Right now there is a pilot plant in Carthage Missouri that turns turkey offal from the nearby Butterball into 500 barrels of oil a day. The cost right now is ~$80 per barrel, which is not much higher than regular oil is at the moment.
Probably a lack of investment in production capacity, coupled with the surprisingly common third-world practice of subsidising fuel prices. With diesel/kerosene costing 76 cents per US gallon, it’s hardly surprising that they go through a fair amount (although probably not as much as they did before the price was raised from 26 cents).