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How Long Will the World's Supply of Inexpensive Oil Last?

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Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Oil, Gas, and Coal in Our Lifetime

Oil is relatively inexpensive today. Will it remain inexpensive enough to use as a fuel in our cars for the next twenty years? How about fifty years from now?

Determining how long the world's supply of oil will last is difficult because it depends on a lot of factors. However, if we make certain assumptions--such as those to the right--we can make a rough estimate.

On the next page you will explore how long the inexpensive oil in the world will last. We say inexpensive because there will always be some expensive oil available. As prices rise, companies can afford to extract oil from new places--but it also becomes less practical to use that oil in the quantities we do now.

Click on each region to find out how long the oil supply in that region could meet the world's increasing demand for this important fuel. The numbers correspond to the number of years that the supply would last if it were the only oil in the world. In each case, there are two numbers, a high estimate and a low estimate.

Assumptions

  • World population will plateau at 10 billion people in 2100.

  • By 2100, the average person in the world will be consuming as much oil as the average American does today.

  • All increases in population, production, and consumption will be linear and proportional.

  • Supply includes all known reserves and projected reserve growth

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