- Mar 30, 2010
- Key facts
- It's a stretch, but imagine you're an Eskimo living 1,500 years ago
- Where does petroleum come from?
- How much energy does petroleum provide?
- How much petroleum is there, and how long will it last?
- Geography is against us
- Where might new oil reserves be found?
- Two unconventional sources of oil: oil shales and tar sands
- Growing worldwide competition for a dwindling resource
- If supplies are dwindling, why watch petroleum go up in smoke?
- Environmental effects of petroleum
- Petroleum exploration versus conservation of endangered species
- The bottom line
Growing worldwide competition for a dwindling resource
International competition for petroleum is growing, in large part because rapidly rising standards of living in India and China are leading to a greater number of automobiles. India now has 5.4 million vehicles, up 500% in just 20 years.35 China has 34 million registered motor vehicles.36 In 2006, sales of personal autos rose 30% in China, to 5.8 million,37 and China's total vehicle sales reached 7.22 million. To put this into perspective, this is close to half the number of cars sold in the United States in 2007 (about 16 million).38 In 2003, China became the world's fourth-largest automobile-producing nation, behind only the U.S., Japan, and Germany.39 This increased competition alone is enough to push petroleum prices up. And they're going to go even higher. The cost of generating electricity with oil (and with natural gas) in the United States has been rising sharply. Domestic electricity cost 20% more in 2006 (the most recent date for which data are available) than in 1995.40