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Author Topic: What happens when the oil runs out?  (Read 1126 times)

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Offline ParadoxTopic starter

What happens when the oil runs out?
« on: June 07, 2010, 10:23:20 AM »
I normally do my own research when I become curious about something, but all I've been able to turn up are articles about oil shortage on a global scale (granted, I only searched for about five minutes because I thought it would make an interesting topic here >_>). I want to know what physically happens to the space the oil occupied once we have drained all of it. Judging by the amount of oil contained in some of the wells, we are displacing enormous quantities of matter from once place to another. I can't image that the space where the oil has been for millennia will simply stay stable. In the case of deep-water wells, will the sea simply sink to replace the displaced oil?

Offline Wolfy

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2010, 03:18:11 PM »
Either the Sea will sink, or the Land will. Especially with earthquakes.

Offline Ket

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Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2010, 03:27:22 PM »
Divide by zero. 


I promise I'll have something better after math homework!

Offline Oniya

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Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2010, 03:39:22 PM »
Well, something will have to go into the space.  Whether it's air or water will depend on what's available.  You then start having to deal with whether the empty space is unstable (in the case of air), or whether the surrounding minerals are soluble (in the case of water).  In either case, the caverns could eventually collapse, causing sinkholes or tidal waves.

Offline Vekseid

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2010, 04:17:17 PM »
I normally do my own research when I become curious about something, but all I've been able to turn up are articles about oil shortage on a global scale (granted, I only searched for about five minutes because I thought it would make an interesting topic here >_>). I want to know what physically happens to the space the oil occupied once we have drained all of it. Judging by the amount of oil contained in some of the wells, we are displacing enormous quantities of matter from once place to another. I can't image that the space where the oil has been for millennia will simply stay stable. In the case of deep-water wells, will the sea simply sink to replace the displaced oil?

Yes. Initially the seafloor/ground falls, but slower than the oil leaves and eventually the oil won't come up anymore of it's own volition, so seawater/gunk gets pumped in to keep the oil flowing. We only recover about half the oil from a given well.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2010, 04:55:15 PM »
So, assuming the sea floor does indeed fall, does it fall enough to affect the sea level to any significant extent?

Offline Vekseid

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2010, 05:29:40 PM »
264.17 gallons per cubic meter, 335,258,000 square kilometers of ocean... you'd need to pump about two billion barrels out, without replacing anything, to lower the effective sea level by a millimeter. The crust also moves extremely slowly - Minnesota and other glacially depressed areas are still rebounding from the retreat of the last glacial period. Current rate of sea level rise is about 3mm per year.

If you're thinking of a way for "the problem to be its own solution", the increased precipitation on land will probably do far more to alleviate sea level rise.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2010, 06:25:26 PM »
Oh no, this has nothing to do with the BP debacle; it's simply something I've been wondering about for a while. Thanks!

Offline Majere Dreavan

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2010, 04:08:48 AM »
Easy answer. Nothing, There is no space left.

Simple Explanation: We don't pump straight oil out of a deep cavernous container. Its actually a loose rock formation, that we spend ageless hours trying to preserve. Fill a jar with rocks. then pour water into it, That's about like what the oil is contained in.

I'm not going to cite any references here cause I know from working with the oil well directly. I used to be a roustabout/Field Coordinator for Nabors Offshore Drilling. Something catastrophic has to happen for the formation to cave in, And usually only caves in on the pipe we got down there.

If I'm wrong... I don't want to think about what I've done.

Offline Vekseid

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2010, 08:43:25 AM »
Well, the oil does initially come up through its own pressure, which means that stress is ultimately getting relieved - that is mass removed straight from the ground without meaningful replacement however safe. It's just negligible for any practical effect.

Offline Yin

Re: What happens when the oil runs out?
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2010, 09:54:52 PM »
Well, the oil does initially come up through its own pressure, which means that stress is ultimately getting relieved - that is mass removed straight from the ground without meaningful replacement however safe. It's just negligible for any practical effect.
High-pressure stress getting relieved doesn't imply a vacuum that will be need to be filled; quite the opposite in fact.

Still, yes: negligible impact upon the planet.