"The reality remains that the conventional petroleum resource appears so extensive as to satisfy the world’s needs for decades to come"
Others have argued that the discovery size of ‘only’ (sic) three billion barrels suggests resource scarcity, since that amount represents only a couple of weeks of consumption. Which is a typical context-free remark: few discoveries amount to more than a small portion of the resource. The super-giant Prudhoe Bay field, for instance, only represents about six months of global oil consumption. During the 1980s and 1990s, large amounts of production came online around the world in areas like Yemen, Oman, Colombia, where the discoveries were smaller than what is now being found.
More important, each of these recent developments shows progress in a new geological area, and progress can be expected to advance sharply as activity increases and knowledge improves. This is only the beginning of a long process of exploitation which will see large-scale resources developed; any given field typically represents only ten percent or so of the play’s resources.
But it also discredits the oft-repeated argument that there are no new plays left. Years ago, when new technology made it possible to perform seismic studies of the large subsalt area of the Gulf of Mexico, I noted to my mentor M. A. Adelman that this was being described as the ‘last new play’ to be exploited. I asked him how many times he’d heard that before. He said, “all my career” (which began in the 1950s). Since that time, new plays included the presalt in Brazil and the Lower Tertiary in the Gulf of Mexico.
Full post here.