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OIL: The World Over A Barrel

Below is some text taken from the website of the three part Canadian documentary series OIL: THE WORLD OVER A BARREL

Are we running out of oil? And how soon?

Of course, it's bound to happen. Oil is a non-renewable resource and sometime (some experts say fairly soon) demand will begin to outstrip supply.

World Oil Consumption
It's estimated that we've already exhausted about half of the original two trillion barrels of oil on earth. And the rest will be burned even faster as China, India and other developing nations develop oil-hungry economies.

World consumption last year stood at just over 80 million barrels a day. In 2003 North America, the world's largest guzzler, consumed almost 24,000,000 barrels (over 25% of the total) each day. Almost half of it went into the continents cars, light trucks and SUV's. Ninety percent of North America's transportation sector depends on an affordable and steady supply of oil.

Although North America's voracious appetite for oil is stable in other areas of the world it is growing by leaps and bounds. Last year China overtook Japan as the second largest consumer. Early statistics for 2004 are showing another substantial increase over 2003 and the International Energy Agency now describes China as 'the major driver of global demand for oil'.

Experts estimate that the world demand for oil will grow by another 60 million barrels a day by the year 2015.

World Supply Diminishing
At the same time production from the world's super-giant and giant oil fields is diminishing by 5% a year. Although new supplies are being discovered in places like Siberia, the Central Asian republics and West Africa, these are not enormous additions to the total output. Most of the 'easy' to recover oil has already been discovered and tapped.

That leaves oil supplies like the tar sands in Western Canada and the oil shale in Venezuela's Orinoco belt. But half as much energy is used extracting this oil as the energy value of the oil produced. The price of oil needs to remain high for these operations to be economically viable. And there's a terrible cost to the environment.

The impact of the oil 'peak'
Oil experts are unsure when the 'peak' in oil production will occur. Some like petroleum geologist, Colin Campbell say it could be as soon as 2010 whereas the U.S. Energy Department estimates it won't happen until 2037. In any case, if you're middle-aged, it's bound to happen in your lifetime.

Soon enough, the era of cheap oil will be over. As the supply begins to diminish the price will go up. If prices rise too steeply there could be a devastating effect on the world's economy. It will cost a lot more to heat our houses, offices and factories and power our cars, trucks and airplanes. Increased transportation costs will drive up prices everywhere from the hardware store to the supermarket.

That's why conservationists argue that we need to reduce the world's dependence on oil today so that supplies can be stretched giving us time to develop alternate energy sources.

Three-part series broadcasting Wednesday July 28, August 4 & August 11, 2004 at 9PM on CBC-TV
Repeating September 7, 8 & 9, 2004 at 8 & 11PM ET on CBC Newsworld

A documentary series that explores the global oil industry in the form of a journey through
the world's most remote and challenging oil-producing regions.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Bill Cran and his team of producers and directors
turn their cameras on the politically unstable countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Ecuador and Angola,
as well as the environmentally sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and the tar sands in Alberta.
All are areas targeted by the oil industry to meet the world's insatiable and growing thirst for oil.

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