Has the Human Age of Oil Dependency Past?

Essay by sponge_backC+, December 2008

download word file, 7 pages 1.0

Crude Oil plays a significant part in the modern industrial world. When refined, it has many uses and over the past two centuries has provided the vast amounts of energy needed to support our quality of life and the dominance mankind has taken on our planet. This new standard of living has left us almost entirely dependent on the continuous production, distribution and consumption of the resource.

In 2004, Adam Porter of the BBC stated “If you think oil prices are high at $40 a barrel then wait till they are four times that much” (1). Just 4 years on, oil prices are pushing $100 a barrel (2) and showing no signs of slowing. The possibility that the world’s oil supplies may run out altogether has become a harsh reality that more and more people are coming to realise.

Fossil Fuels, (natural gas, coal and oil) are all created under the earth’s surface from the dead remains of plants and sea creatures known as Biomass.

The Biomass is buried deep underneath overlying rock and sediment which create a force that pushes the Biomass deep into the earth, increasing its temperature and slowly, chemical reactions begin to take place. These reactions begin to break down the heavy organic molecules into lighter molecules such as Hydrocarbons (3). The oil then moves upwards through porous rock until it reaches a layer of non-permeable rock where it becomes trapped and lies dormant. Geophysical contractors search for inclines, in which the oil is contained, using lines of highly sensitive receivers called ‘geophones,’ and through the use of explosions or mechanical vibrations they can record the energy reflected back as seismic waves from various layers of underlying rock (4).

Oil used for home heating is a Hydrocarbon, a compound of Hydrogen and Carbon, and has to...