How deep is oil in the ground

How long will the oil last?

Forty-five years ago, experts prophesied that the earth would run out of oil before the turn of the millennium. The opposite has happened: the world's oil reserves have never been greater. Why is that - and why the majority should not be burned.

  • Conventional oil fields are far from exhausted

  • The fracking technique has significantly increased the oil reserves

  • The known oil reserves have never been as large as they are today

Drilling: Conventional oil production

In conventional oil fields, the raw material is located in the interstices of a porous rock layer. If it is drilled, the oil initially flows upwards thanks to the natural reservoir pressure. Later, gas is injected into the warehouse in order to extract even more. However, the respective deposit is not really "emptied": at least 40 percent of the oil is still underground when the field is considered exhausted and the headframes are dismantled. The largest conventional deposit is in Saudi Arabia: the Ghawar field contains a good 70 billion barrels - enough to meet global demand for two years.

Fracking: The Shale Oil Revolution

In fracking, a mixture of water, quartz sand and chemicals is used at high pressure
pressed in clay slate. It breaks the tone. The gas and oil, which are bound in tiny cavities, can then flow into a riser. Thanks to this technology, oil production in the USA has increased from 6.7 to 17 million barrels since 2007. Gas production also grew dramatically. Because that made prices affordable, many coal-fired power plants were replaced by gas-fired power plants. That is why the US’s CO2 emissions are falling.

But there is criticism of fracking: It can contaminate groundwater and soil with chemicals and cause earthquakes. In addition, it escapes in an uncontrolled manner at the boreholes
Methane. According to the Max Planck Society, this gas is 21 times more harmful to the climate than CO2.

Expensive fuel: that's how much Germany pays for oil

Many billions of euros flow from Germany to the oil-producing countries every year. How high the bill is depends on the raw material market. The fact that prices fluctuate extremely there has also been shown in recent years: the national annual accounts for oil have never been as high as in 2012 - and have not been as low as in 2016 for a long time. Forecasts about the development of the oil price have so far been regularly wrong. In 2008, the DIW economic research institute expected the barrel to cost over $ 200 in 2018 - in fact, the price is currently fluctuating around the $ 35 mark, also because of the corona pandemic.

Replenishment from the depths

The proven Oil reserves have increased almost fivefold since 1960. This is made possible by technical progress, for example in fracking. Even extreme deep-sea deposits such as the Libra field off the coast of Brazil can now be developed. It is 7000 meters deep under water and rocks. The "peak oil", the high point in global oil production, after which production only goes downhill, is therefore shifting further and further into the future. In fact, there has been a kind of "oil constant" since the 1970s: Despite constantly increasing consumption, the oil was always sufficient for the next 40 years or more.

Climate change: on the way to the greenhouse

Oil in large quantities and comparatively stable raw material prices are good news for the economy and consumers in the short term. But not for the climate. Because about the Global warming To stop at 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, mankind may still blow a maximum of 900 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere by 2100.

With current consumption, this budget will be exhausted in 22 years. In the opinion of many experts, the 1.5 degree Celsius target set in the Paris Climate Agreement can therefore no longer be achieved.


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