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Pardon my naive question. But I heard this argument quite sometimes.

One can find at the Schlumberger careers page the particularly interesting FAQ:

“We are often told that oil is running out. Why should I join an aging industry?”

The answer is: Far from joining a dying industry, technology is ensuring that hydrocarbon resources will be extended, that the amounts recovered will increase and the challenges the technology represents will remain as exciting as ever.

My question is what exactly is meant by “hydrocarbon resources will be extended”? Is the oil refilling somehow?

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The quantities of oil in a deposit are listed under two categories: resources and reserves.

Resources are deposits that could be converted to reserves if economic factors, prices and costs, were favorable.

Reserves are deposits that can be extracted for a profit.

What makes a deposit profitable involves many things:

  • The size of the deposit
  • The quality of the deposit - the type of hydrocarbons in the deposit, is it lighter fractions of oil or heavier or a mixture of the two. It also depends on the amount of undesirable contaminants in the oil such as sulfur.
  • The depth of the deposit
  • Ease or difficulty in accessing the deposit
  • The flow rate achievable from the deposit: the number of barrels of oil per day that can be extracted.
  • How much gas is associated with the deposit and the type of gas
  • Ease of getting the oil to a refinery
  • How much of the total oil in the ground can eventually be extracted.

The amount of oil that can be extracted is heavily reliant on the technology used to extract it. With the introduction and use of technologies not previously available more oil might be able to be extracted from the deposit, or oil from deposits not previous considered for extraction could be converted to reserve status and become available to be extracted. When this happens the hydrocarbon resources have become extended.

Similarly, new technology might make oil in different types of deposits capable of being extracted. This is what happened with oil shale deposits when fracking was developing. Until then oil shale deposit were largely untouched.

By being able to extract oil from such new sources also extends the hydrocarbon resource.

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    $\begingroup$ The end of petroleum reserves has been predicted frequently for over 100 years. $\endgroup$ Feb 13 at 21:34

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