Fossil Fuels Summary

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No doubt fossil fuels have been and will remain as the most important source of energy. Much of today’s technology has come about because of the availability of cheap and abundant fossil reserves. Unfortunately, in a relatively short time, we have managed to consume nearly half of our estimated conventional oil and much of our coal and natural gas resources. It is particularly noteworthy that by 1970, over half of the globe -- Africa, ME, Asia (except Japan)-- did not essentially use any oil. Th is is becoming particularly difficult as the demand for oil is increasing in much of the world. Developed countries, at least in foreseeable times, will consume more. As developing nations strive for better economic conditions, they will demand more share of the energy resources. Similarly, as Middle Eastern countries become industrialized, they will use more of their resources locally, leaving less available for export. Furthermore, with a majority of OPEC members in the Middle East, the political instability in this region can easily disrupt the fl ow of oil, increasing global confl icts and the potential for even more military interventions and war. Th is will have a spiraling eff ects of higher prices of petroleum, economic downturn, and even more confl icts. Unless we make drastic adjustments in our patt erns of use, we may not be able to enjoy these resources for much longer.

Fortunately, there is hope that new sources of energy will become available at reasonable prices. Nuclear energy can off set rising demand for a short period. Tar sands and oil shale can extend the life of petroleum for some time. Similarly, methane hydrate is a huge potential source of natural gas. Alternative and clean sources of energy are also being developed at prices that are continuously being lowered. Until then, all we can do is to use the available reserves sparingly.


(1) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Further Reading

Berkowitz, N., Fossil Hydrocarbons: Chemistry and Technology, Elsevier Academic Press, 1997.

Deff eyes, K. S., Hubbert’s Peak: Th e Impending World Oil Shortage, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J., 2001.

Campbell, C. J., Th e Coming Oil Crisis, Multi-Science Publishing Company, 2004.

Tariq Ali, Th e Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity, Verso, 2002.

Pelletiere, S., Iraq and the International Oil System: Why America Went to War in the Gulf, Praeger Publishing, 2001.

Oil and Gas Journal, Technology, news, statistics, special reports, and analysis (

Journal of Petroleum Technology, The official journal of Society of Petroleum Engineers, Dallas.

The Petroleum Engineer, Petroleum Engineer Pub. Co.

Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Elsevier, covers the fields of petroleum (and natural gas) exploration, production and flow.

External Links

National Energy Technology Laboratory: Th e Strategic Center for Coal (

National Petroleum Technology Office (

US Geological Survey (

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (

Society of Petroleum Engineers (