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Fossil Fuel Reserves

Alternative sources of fossil fuels, like shale and tar sands, may extend our use of fossil fuels, but have negative impacts.

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Keeping Us in Oil

Keeping Us in Oil

Credit: Original uploader was PlainEarth at en.wikipedia
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gusher_Okemah_OK_1922.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In 1922, there was lots of oil around. Some deposits were under so much pressure that the oil would shoot into the air in a gusher, it was so eager to escape its rocky confinement. Since then we’ve used up the easy to get to deposits, and it’s a lot harder to get oil now.

Why It Matters

Credit: Mion
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oilshale.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Burning oil shale [Figure2]

  • People consume a lot of oil and the amount is increasing because people in developing nations are using more.
  • Conventional petroleum deposits are found in reservoir rocks that are porous and permeable. The oil flows easily into the well so that it can be extracted.
  • We can now extract oil from deposits that were thought to be used up and from types of deposits that weren’t considered usable not long ago.
  • Crude oil production in the U.S. grew by more than 1 million barrels a day in 2012 because of the extraction of tight oil.

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With the link below, learn more about oil development. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is peak oil? Has peak oil been reached? Why or why not?
  2. How do petroleum and natural gas deposits form?
  3. What geophysical techniques are used to find petroleum deposits and how do they work?
  4. What is tight oil? Describe the process used to extract tight oil from rock.
  5. What is heavy oil? How is heavy oil extracted?
  6. Unless an international body calls a halt to this process (after all, these fossil fuels cause climate to warm), what will happen over time?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Original uploader was PlainEarth at en.wikipedia; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gusher_Okemah_OK_1922.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Mion; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oilshale.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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