A Look Ahead at Synthetic Hydrocarbon Technology
- Walter R. Hibbard Jr. (Director U.S. Bureau Of Mines)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1967
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,329 - 1,333
- 1967. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.1.9 Heavy Oil Upgrading, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 5.8.4 Shale Oil, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 7.4.3 Market analysis /supply and demand forecasting/pricing, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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Fuels to produce energy are vital to all residents of the United States. Although there are no present apparent shortages of fossil fuels, consideration of the long-term energy needs of the nation leads to the conclusion that fuels, from supplementary sources may soon begin to enter into the domestic energy mix. The present impetus of oil shale research and development and recent announcements by Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall pertaining to the management of ail shale lands tend to support earlier predictions of the U. S. Bureau of Mines that there will be commercial production of shale oil within the next 10 years. It is probable that liquid and gaseous fuels from coal will begin to enter the market simultaneously with, or not much later than, shale oil. The limited knowledge of the total resources of domestic tar sand does not permit good predictions of when fuels from tar sands will become commercially significant.
Whether we have occasion to think of it or not, an adequate and economic supply of energy fuels is vital to each of us. It is interesting to look ahead at the way in which fuels from supplementary sources will begin to enter into the energy mix to help meet the long-term national energy needs. From 1947 to 1965, the average annual rate of growth of energy consumption was 2.7 percent, with total energy demand in 1965 being equivalent to 54 quadrillion Btu's. During this short period of 18 years, the cumulative output of coal in the U.S. was 9.6 billion tons; natural gas, 193.5 trillion cu ft; and crude oil, 45.9 billion bbl. During the next decade and a half the nation's energy requirements are expected to grow at an average rate of 3.3 percent yearly, with consumption of energy expected to reach an annual rate of about 88 quadrillion Btu's by 1980, or 63 percent over the 1965 level.
There is no doubt of the ability of the U. S. to meet this vast expansion in energy demand. Through technology, we have evolved the means of responding to cost and demand changes in our energy industries-either by effecting cost reductions and savings in the production of existing resources, or by introducing new and lower-cost substitutes or supplemental sources. The problems with which we are mainly concerned are the future mix of energy resources and what the demands will be that are made on particular energy industries to supply these needs. Much of the demand for energy resources - is generated by changing conditions in the energy markets and the various forms that primary energy resources are required to assume in these markets. Closely related to our concern with the composition of the future energy mix is whether technological changes will continue to overcome the effects of cost-increasing forces that are plaguing, to an increasing degree, some of our key fossil fuel industries.
Method of Projection
For purposes of planning and programming, USBM has projected the energy-resource mix for the period 1966-1980. For these projections we used the simplified assumptions that there would be an adequate supply of all domestic energy resources to meet projected demand at constant costs or lower, and that the net trade in energy resources during the forecast period would remain in the same relation to demand as it was in 1965. Under these assumptions we have projected the cumulative output of coal for 1966-1980 at 10.6 billion tons, that of natural gas at 294 trillion cu ft and that of crude petroleum at 56 billion bbl. There is little doubt concerning the ability of the coal industry to meet the projected demand for coal over the next 15 years since coal reserves should be ample for the foreseeable future. However, the projections of demand and supply for coal are beset with uncertainties. These stem from the rapidly emerging nuclear power industry and from such probable contingencies as the imposition of restrictions on the sulfur content of coal and residual fuel oil under future environmental pollution-control programs. The future supply problems of the oil and gas industries in meeting projected demands are currently under study by the Dept. of the Interior. As Secretary Udall indicated in his speech before the National Petroleum Council in March, 1966, there are three possible avenues of approach: added discoveries of new deposits of oil and gas, additional recovery from known deposits and development of alternative fuels. Because of the existing end-use patterns of consumption of petroleum products and natural gas, the choice of substitute energy resources for these fossil fuels offers a limited range of possibilities. Petroleum products, approximately 90 percent of which are consumed in transportation, are not readily replaced by other energy sources or energy forms.
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