When we assess the current world situation and the energy dilemmas of the United States, we sometimes wonder if Charles Dickens had today's time in mind when he wrote his famous introduction to "The Tale of Two Cities":
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness... it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it , was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."
Dickens wrote this as an observation on a world in change - that period in European history when major political and social upheavals were bringing down an old order and instituting a new one.
What lies before us today is yet another worldwide upheaval in the political, social and economic order. We call it the s. The United States, the world's economic and social leader, is in the eye of this tempest of change. And our industry is an integral part of the success or failure by which our nation addresses its crisis.
What can we project about the energy crisis in the next decade?
Petroleum will continue to be the predominant source of world energy during the 1980?s, although its share of overall energy requirements is likely to decline to about 50% by 1990. At the same time, non-petroleum sources are expected to supply the largest part of the growth in energy consumption. Further, the growth in petroleum demand over the next ten years will take place largely outside the industrial nations, particularly in the OPEC nations.
The growth in petroleum demand during the 1980's will be constrained by substantially higher price levels, supply limitations, and increased consumption of other energy fuels indigenous to the industrial consuming areas. It is obviously difficult to project or suggest a likely plateau of oil production in the foreseeable future, given the many influences on production levels throughout the world. It is reasonable, however, given present day circumstances, to conclude that future petroleum supplies will remain tight with the probability of short-term shortages likely to occur periodically.
For the industrial consuming countries to minimize their dependence on petroleum, the use of coal and nuclear power will have to be maximized. Environmental considerations as well as safety problems associated with nuclear generating capacity will undoubtedly continue to create a lag in the utilization of these resources.
The petroleum situation in the U. S. will depend considerably on the extent to which domestic crude oil production can be stabilized. Estimates of U. S. production under the most optimistic circumstances would only provide a production rate of approximately 9 to 10 million barrels a day, slightly below current levels of output. If petroleum demand remains between 18 and 19 million barrels a day, about the same as the 1978-79 level of consumption, requirement for foreign supply will remain in the range of 8 to 9 million barrels a day. The United States, therefore, will continue to be heavily dependent on foreign sources to meet petroleum requirements.