The reserves

In 2015 oil production covers approximately 31.7% of the world energy consumption (the percentage increases to 53.3% if natural gas is considered). The reserves of that energy source are not distributed in a uniform way in the world; on the contrary, they concentrate in some countries: the Middle East alone has 49%, South and Central America has 20% (Venezuela has 18% of the world oil reserves), North America has 12%, Russia and Central Asia has 7%, Africa has 8%, Asia-Pacific has 3% and Europe only 1% (data referring to 2018). The comparison between the annual oil production levels and the currently identified reserves shows that Middle East countries produce little as compared to their capacity, whereas the United States and Western Europe exploit their reserves at a fast pace. In fact, the countries that consume more oil are the ones that own less oil. Europe each year consumes 16% of the world production. This means that if the current production level remains unchanged and no new discoveries are made, Europe and North America will deplete their reserves in a few years and will be forced to resort to imported oil only. The reserves identified so far worldwide will be depleted in 50 years if the current annual consumption levels are maintained. The age of oil is probably bound to last for several years still. However, the level of the world energy consumption is expected to grow in the future (the world population will grow as well as the per capita energy consumption), thus reducing the oil reserves at a faster pace than now. The possibility of avoiding new oil and energy crises (i.e. a situation marked by a limited quantity of oil available on the market to meet an increasing demand leading prices to soar) in the future will depend upon the oil industry’s ability to find new fields and above all on mankind’s ability to achieve an optimum exploitation of the currently available oil and develop alternative, possibly renewable, energy sources.
(Source: eni, World Oil & Gas Review 2017)

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