The New York Times reports that new technology is dramatically increasing the lifespan of some oil wells — and that is turning “peak oil” theories on end, the paper says.
The last ten years have brought advances that have changed the minds of most believing that the earth is running out of oil, and that production will not keep up with increases in use — the “peak oil” theory. The Times reports that the latest surveys of available oil in the earth have been raised to 4.8 trillion barrels, less than a quarter of which has been used. Earlier estimates had ranged around 3.3 trillion barrels.
The increases in estimates, the paper says, come largely from newer methods of extracting oil from old wells that have become feasible as oil has settled around $50 a barrel.
“It’s the fifth time to my count that we’ve gone through a period when it seemed the end of oil was near and people were talking about the exhaustion of resources,” the Times quotes Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of oil, who cited similar concerns in the 1880s, after both world wars and in the 1970s. “Back then we were going to fly off the oil mountain. Instead we had a boom and oil went to $10 instead of $100.”
Much of the production increases has come in nations belonging to OPEC, so prices are not expected to relax as production increases, the paper adds.
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