Modern society is characterized by convenience; convenience supplied by oil. Whether it be to fuel cars, to make plastic for hair dryers, or to paint a wall, most everything found in use today depends on this black gold. Although petroleum ’s variety of uses has made life convenient, this convenience has lead to an extreme use of oil, and it is now leading to its depletion. Although billions of barrels of oil remain in worldwide reserves, the United States needs to invest in replacing petroleum with alternative energy sources because readily available oil reserves are running out and other sources are more difficult to access and use .
Oil remains plentiful in the world, as new reserves are constantly being discovered, and technology is allowing ever more efficient oil production and use. Newer technology allows people to refine and process sources of oil that was previously unusable. These unconventional sources of oil have been proven to exist worldwide. 14 trillion barrels of oil may be found in worldwide oil shale alone, which some experts say could power the world for 500 years to come (Deming 10). Other reports show that 2 trillion barrels may be found in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, which is quickly being developed (Lambertson). Furthermore, oil reserves are constantly being discovered, whether it be in the Gulf of Mexico or in tar sands of North and South America. Methods of oil extraction, refinement, and use are becoming evermore efficient as technology continues to advance. This both reduces oil consumption, by allowing less oil to go further, and increases the net energy gain from oil reserves .
Despite the vast amount of remain oil and improving technology, however, oil production from conventional sources is forecasted to drop due to the fact that reserves are becoming depleted or difficult to access. Conventional sources of oil, which are easily accessed and readily available reservoirs, currently supply nearly all of the world’s oil. As these reservoirs are drained and are found less and less often, however, people turn to different sources to acquire oil. In the past, these conventional sources have been found close to the Earth’s surface, where drilling is cheap, and the raw material gained is easily processed. To be able to continue producing oil, some are looking below thousands of feet of water, which makes pumping both risky and costly, with relatively petroleum little produced. The disastrous effects of using drilling for such reservoirs have been seen in the Gulf of Mexico, where the sheer depth of the drilling prevented a huge oil leak from being contained for months. Conventional oil production is on its decline, simply due to that fact that it is running out or difficult to access .
As these readily available, conventional sources run out, some hope to turn to unconventional sources, but these are incapable of replacing conventional sources of oil and have major environmental impacts. Unlike...