Fossil Fuel Resources in the United States
- T.C. Frick (The Atlantic Refining Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 155 - 157
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 5.8.4 Shale Oil, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating
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Editor's Note: During his tenure as Institute President-Elect in 1964 and while serving as the 1965 President of AIME, Thomas C. Frick presented the following short talk to some 20 local sections of AIME throughout North America. Frick, manager of The Atlantic Refining Co.'s Natural Gas Div. in Dallas, Tex., has updated the talk for publication in JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY.
An Unpopular Prediction
Coal, oil shale and tar sands - we have. Crude oil and natural gas - we do not have. These are the two stories about fossil fuels in the United States. There is nothing in these two stories about fossil fuels that says the U.S. is running out of hydrocarbons to power our automobiles and to heat our homes. In 1946 Everette Lee DeGolyer, an eminent geologist, engineer and past-president of AIME, returned to Dallas, Tex., after serving as Deputy Petroleum Administrator for War under the Hon. Harold Ickes, then Secretary of the Interior. DeGolyer and his petroleum team had opportunities to see much first-hand data on Near East oil fields. DeGolyer was asked by his Dallas Petroleum Club friends to talk to them informally about his views on the petroleum industry in light of his experience as Deputy Petroleum Administrator. He told the Dallas group to expect that within a decade, and at the most two decades, oil from the Gulf Coast of Texas and oil from the Caribbean area would no longer control the petroleum markets of the world. DeGolyer said that he had seen data from the Kirkuk and Burgan fields and had seen data from newly discovered fields in Saudi Arabia. He went on to say simply that the major crude oil reserves of the world were in the Near East and that Near East oil would dominate world markets. DeGolyer's remarks were quite irritating to some Texans. In fact, some of his Texas friends suggested that DeGolyer had been brainwashed and that he leave Texas. What has happened since DeGolyer's prediction? First, the U.S. started importing more oil than it exported within two years after DeGolyer's prediction (Fig. 1). Since that time, imports have exceeded exports by 6.5 billion bbl. Crude oil and crude products are being imported currently at the rate of 850 million bbl annually, or 20 per cent of our needs. So far as crude oil is concerned, as we now think of crude oil, the U.S. is a have-not nation and will remain so unless our consumption decreases drastically. If sufficient crude oil reserves were available in the judgment of industry and government, imports would not be at their current level.
Crude Oil and Liquids
According to the American Petroleum Institute, our proved reserves of crude oil and natural gas liquids were 38.7 billion bbl as of Jan. 1, 1965. The annual consumption rate of crude oil and natural gas liquids in the U. S. is above 4.0 billion bbl. The reserves- to-consumption ratio now stands at 9.6:1. (Fig. 2 shows the change in the reserves-to-consumption index since 1948.) If an allowance is made for secondary oil reserves, the U. S. has a reserves-to-consumption ratio of not more than 20: 1. In the years that lie ahead, many more million barrels of oil will be found in these United States. Nevertheless, within a decade or so, crude oil reserves and producing capacity of wells will fall far short of supplying demand.
Rather than be totally dependent on foreign oil, the petroleum industry must look to the oil shale, tar sands and coal to supplement its reserves of liquid fuels. Within two decades, pipe lines from Colorado and Utah will be carrying shale oil to many of the refineries of our nation.
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