Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oil Consumption Essay

Oil Consumption Essay

The modern world faces several important problems in the 21st century and oil overconsumption is definitely one of the most important ones. In the modern world oil is the primary source of energy. People overuse natural resources and pollute the environment. Amount of oil, which is extracted from the earth each year, approaches maximum amount which can not be increased by determination. If people break this limit, the amount of oil in the ground will decrease forever without any possibilities to improve the situation. Since people started using oil and gas from the ground in the 19th century, they have produced nearly a half of all reasonable resources of the earth. As soon as they reach this half-way point, they will achieve its production peak. This means that “more oil will be produced in a year near the half-way point than ever before or ever after.” (Deffeyes) This phenomenon was originally discovered and studied by M. King Hubbert. Modern researches prove his thesis. We can trace it on simple example. Oil production statistics prove that most oil fields show one characteristic curve. They reach peak in oil production when half of ultimately recoverable oil is produced. After this half-way point is reached aggregate rate goes down till all oil is produced. Hubbert has also predicted that the United States of America will reach its peak in oil production by 1972. Jean Laherrere, a famous petroleum engineer and world famous oil analyst, predicts that oil production will decline between 2010 and 2050.

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The development of modern economy is closely connected with the growth of transport industry. Most modern transport systems are based on oil. Statistics show that two thirds of all petroleum used in the US is used for power transportation. “At present, transportation fuels account for roughly half of the world’s oil consumption. Transportation’s share increases to 60% if we include bitumen for road asphalt, along with lubricants and the energy used in refinery production of diesel and gasoline. Oil use in the transport sector will thus remain a driver of total global oil demand” (Mandil, 3). The growth of transport sector will naturally lead to the growing needs in energy for transport vehicles. What is notable, despite extremely important role, which energy plays for economy, the rise of prices for energy will not result in bigger supplies of gas and oil. As soon as the production of oil reaches its half-way peak supplies will gradually decrease while the prices for oil will grow. This will definitely have negative effect on transport sector in particular and on the world economy in general.

Growing of oil consumption becomes a natural effect of the economic development. The use of oil in transport industry has negative effect on the surrounding.

Environmental problems, which are caused by the use of gas and oil in transport sector and industry, grow with each year. During the last 100 years people have produced a lot of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and as a result of it the average temperature has warmed up by over half a degree. Burning fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and gas influences our atmosphere and so the responsibility for the global warming in the 20th century lies on people. Nowadays the air temperature has become much warmer because the heat can not go back into space. Extra greenhouse gases increase the greenhouse effect. The use of oil in transport industry causes serious damage to the environment and this problem can not be neglected any more.

Energy efficiency is a key point of dealing with problem of natural resources and environmental protection. Energy efficiency can help to resolve not only the problems of transportation sector, but also any other sectors where energy of gas or oil is used.

The increase of energy efficiency can be a good way to save energy. Efficiency increase demands a better model of the transport vehicle. There is a progress, which can be noticed in this field. For example, “the pace of efficiency improvement has been rapid. For example between 1995 and 2003, there was an 11.8% decline in CO2 emissions from new passenger cars sold in the former 15 European Union countries (EU-15)” (Mandil 11). There are several ways to increase efficiency. These options include: improvements in existing engines switching from gasoline to diesel, use of hybrid vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, technologies that reduce the fuel efficiency shortfall.

At the same time efficiency increase is a slow process and counting on it will not resolve problems which exist now. It takes years for designers to replace old car models with more effective ones and it takes even more years to replace old models in the market. There is no one key technology option yet. Different cars require different approaches to the problem of efficiency increase. That is why other methods of dealing with the problem of oil depletion are necessary.

It is evident that fuel efficiency should be combined with the use of CO2-free fuels. The first step towards the solution of this problem is the usage of hybrid engines and new technologies. “By 2050, fuel-cell technologies and other advancements could boost efficiency to 54 miles per gallon” (Koffer, 2005). This approach can help to resolve problems caused by the significant increase of oil production. Synthetic gasoline, natural gas, bioethanol, biomass and diesel from coal can be regarded as alternative fuels. When talking about alternative fuels it is necessary to consider all pros and contras of these fuels. Most of the fuels mentioned can compete with the prices for oil. If prices for oil grow, the use of these alternative kinds of fuel will become even more profitable. “Alternative fuels must also been seen in the light of their contributions to a secure, environmentally acceptable and affordable energy system“ (Mandil 14). Regulation caused by the increase of prices for oil and gas can be combined with governmental policies, which would encourage the use of CO2-free fuel. If such policies are implemented by the government, it will naturally lead to the resolution of oil depletion problems.

Governmental support and technology progress are necessary condition of the successful resolution of this problem.
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