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fossil fuel

Running on Fumes: How Long Will The World’s Fossil Fuel Reserves Last?

The principles of supply and demand control all markets. Even information regarding the status of the current supply of resources or the consumer’s demand for a resource is a powerful tool. Companies do everything in their power to influence these two things. But some markets have unique features that require equally novel methods to manipulate. One of these unique markets is the fossil fuel industry. Unlike other products, which could increase their supply with some effort, fossil fuels are impossible to recreate. However, 70 percent of the world’s energy and most forms of motorized transportation require the consumption of these substances. It’s no wonder that people are beginning to ask how long will the world’s current fuel reserves last. Businesses that specialize in creating financial models for oil and gas companies are only one of the factions who seek to answer this question. To fully understand the fossil fuel situation, one must first learn its origin.

Millions of Years in the Making

Fossil fuels are the result of vegetable material and other organisms decomposing beneath the earth for millions of years. Most crude oil, a substance that’s mostly made of carbon and hydrogen, came into being approximately 252 to 66 million years ago during the Mesozoic period. The substance from which gasoline comes from is the remains of algae, plankton, and other similar life forms fermenting under the earth for untold eons. Deteriorating masses of plants and other creatures release methane. After a few million years underground, the methane became natural gas. Coal, the last of the major fossil fuels, is the fossilized detritus of vegetation from the Carboniferous period, which occurred 300 to 360 million years ago. It’s these millions of years of burial and fermentation that give these substances the flammable properties that make them important as fuel. And although new material and detritus are accumulating naturally, there is no way for industries to replicate the unimaginably long time it takes for these things to become fossil fuel. The reserves that companies are digging up and refining are the only ones the world has. So how long will these current reserves last?

The Status of the World’s Fossil Fuel Reserves

mine According to experts, these are the years of reserve the following fossil fuels have left:
  • Current coal reserves can last for the next 114 years
  • Current natural gas reserves can keep demand satisfied for approximately 52 years
  • Current oil reserves can last for up to 50 years
As worrying as these numbers might be to some people, experts say that multiple factors can extend and increase these reserves. Industries are looking into new techniques that can find masses of fossil fuel that eluded previous technology. Governments all over the world are also working together to reduce their respective countries’ fossil fuel usage. These efforts take the form of growing investments in renewable energy technology and the introduction of a global carbon budget that will hopefully influence different institutions to take appropriate steps. Fossil fuels are ancient substances, but they’re by no means relics of another age. The reserves that exist today can be helpful when society begins to transition from one form of energy generation to another. Until such time, fossil fuels are still what get engines going all over the world.
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