How much oil is left?

For the past few days I have been writing about how much fossil fuel there is left in the world. Today I deal with the last major source of fossil fuel –oil.

Most people think of oil when they think of energy. Oil reserves are very hard to assess. Some countries over state their oil reserves or mis-count them for political reasons. This probably also happens with coal and natural gas, but oil has a long history of over stating its reserves. It was not so long ago that Shell over stated its oil reserves, causing the stock market to be deceived about the true worth of Shell’s assets.

Since 1986 proved reserves in the world (that is to say those known amounts of oil which are at today’s prices with today’s’ technology economically extractable) have hovered around the 40 years worth. This is a useful way of measuring oil, because as prices rise so the oil in some places becomes economic to extract. As of now the oil industry estimates that we have 42 years worth of oil left. Continue reading