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We might have used up more oil than we think

running-on-emptyNew estimates from a UK researcher suggest previous studies might have overestimated the amount of crude oil left in the ground.

A 2008 assessment by Hungarian chemists Istvan Lakatos and Julianna Lakatos-Szabo concluded the planet has produced less than 100 billion tonnes of crude oil since 1850. However, John Jones in the School of Engineering at the University of Aberdeen says that number is likely a gross underestimate.

Jones calculates that we have used at least 135 billion tonnes of oil since 1870, when JD Rockefeller established The Standard Oil Company and oil drilling began in earnest.

Jones based his figure on a 2005 estimate from The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) that found total historic oil production was 944 billion barrels. Using calculations to convert that into tonnes, Jones concludes that total productioin turns out to be more likely 135 billion tonnes.

The earlier estimate by Lakatos and Lakatos-Szabo, he said, “is significantly inconsistent with the ODAC.”

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