The First Ten of the Next Hundred Years
- L.B. Curtis (Continental Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1971
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 11 - 12
- 1971. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7.4.3 Market analysis /supply and demand forecasting/pricing, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.6.3 Social Responsibility and Development, 4.6 Natural Gas
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Probably the salient characteristic of the petroleum industry in the Probably the salient characteristic of the petroleum industry in the coming decade will be global cooperation. In that brief span the energy needs will be as great as those of the entire history of the industry, and to meet them, men, companies, and nations alike must pull together or they shall surely fall apart. pull together or they shall surely fall apart. History may record the 1960's as the period that witnessed the involvement of the petroleum industry in political controversy and international policies on a political controversy and international policies on a vast new scale. For several countries, petroleum provided a means for phenomenal economic growth and provided a means for phenomenal economic growth and new national identity. At the same time, prohibitive tax reforms were implemented and serious arguments were raised in legislatures as those deliberative bodies focused on ecological problems.
The 1970's are bound to be keynoted by change, and the petroleum industry is certain to be affected by new developments. Also certain is the fact that petroleum will itself cause changes in many parts of petroleum will itself cause changes in many parts of the world.
No serious study of America's needs for continued growth indeed, for simply meeting our essentials can ignore the certainty of enormous growth in demand for fossil fuels. The same is true on a worldwide scale. In the next 10 years, demand for crude petroleum will most likely double. That means we petroleum will most likely double. That means we must duplicate in a decade what previously took a century. Energy consumption will grow exponentially with an increase in population and an increase in the desire for "the good life". Energy is the base that will support this planet's people. In large measure, it will undergird the world's economic and social development.
If we accept these premises we must also accept an absolute requirement for worldwide acceleration of energy resource development. That process means more manpower, more new equipment, more new technology, and more nay, enormous capital investment.
In eras past, we were confident that a new and adequate crude oil supply was just another "basin" or a "little geology" away. The notion proved true so many times that it became axiomatic. Today, that pseudo phenomenon is still axiomatic and still pseudo phenomenon is still axiomatic and still applicable. Another supply is only a basin away or is on the technological horizon. However, as consumption rises, the incremental addition to reserves with each new find or improved recovery has less effect on the dynamics of the system. It becomes a smaller and smaller part of the total. We cannot afford many failures merely to find and develop a new "basin" every year.
I believe that, for the first time in recorded history, people are beginning to understand that the heretofore limitless bounty of the earth is finite. It is clear that a boundary does exist within which our living systems must be governed if man is to avoid radical disturbances of nature's equilibrium. Man stands accused today of violating his environmental balance, which is another way of saying that he may be on the verge of activities that may render him unable to support himself in the manner to which he has become accustomed.
At the same time, as the demand for oil products increases and as the production of oil becomes an increasingly capital-intensive enterprise, we will need to improve our ability to work closely and compatibly with those governments and companies who have jurisdiction over reserves. It is evident from recent events around the world that controls can be imposed that are incongruent with the commercial and perhaps the general social interest, but that reputedly coincide with the best national interest.
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