Extreme Oil
Photo of oil refinery
The Journey The History The Science
Exploration Production Transportation Refining
Early Prospecting and Modern Exploration Always a Messy Business and Modern Production Pipelines, Tankers, Trains, and Trucks Turning Crude Into Commodities

Meeting the World's Appetite for Oil

If the present era of human civilization is seen in terms of its defining technologies and resources, humans are now living in the "oil age." Many features that define contemporary life are more dependent upon oil than any other single resource. In numbers: the world currently uses roughly 75-80 million barrels of crude oil per day, of which the United States consumes about 20 million, or roughly one-quarter of the global supply. At 42 gallons per barrel, every man, woman, and child in the U.S., on average, consumes nearly three gallons of crude oil every single day of their lives. And that amount is only growing with time.

How is such a massive need met, here and abroad, year after year? Where and with what techniques is oil found and produced in ever-greater quantities, even as some experts warn that oil is becoming increasingly scarce? What is required to bring oil and its many by-products to market in the midst of political and economic uncertainty? These and related questions are the focus of this guide.

Excavation Feature
Photo of oil derrick
Go to Early Prospecting
About the Series For Teachers Resources Pledge Sitemap