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The Depletion Of Global Oil Reserves Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 4465 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The literature review summarized the research done on the problem that global oil reserves are depleting day by day and there is a dire need to find out and utilized alternate energy options especially for a developing country. The depletion of global oil reserves has led to conflicts between the nations and soaring of prices. Oil is the main source of energy and developing countries are facing lot of problems due to shortage of oil in providing their populations better living standards.

The literature also covered situation of shortage of oil reserves and energy crises consequent to it. It identifies main consumers of oil in a country and alternate energy resources that could possibly be worked on to meet the energy requirement through sources other than oil.


The API estimated in 1999 the world’s oil supply would be depleted between 2062 and 2094, assuming total world oil reserves between 1.4 and 2 trillion barrels and consumption at 80 million barrels per day. In 2004, total world reserves were estimated to be 1.25 trillion barrels and daily consumption was about 85 million barrels, shifting the estimated oil depletion year to 2057.

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The US EIA predicted that world consumption of oil will increase to 98.3 million barrels per day in 2015 and 118 in 2030. With 2009 world oil consumption at 84.4, reaching the projected 2015 level of consumption would represent an average annual increase between 2009 and 2015 of 2.7% per year while EIA’s own figures show declining consumption and declining supplies during the 2005-2010 period.

The world’s oil supply is fixed because petroleum is naturally formed far too slowly to be replaced at the rate at which it is being extracted. Over many millions of years, plankton, bacteria, and other plant and animal matter become buried in sediments on the ocean floor. When conditions are right – a lack of oxygen for decomposition, and sufficient depth and temperature of burial – these organic remains are converted into petroleum compounds, while the sediment accompanying them is converted into sandstone, siltstone, and other porous sedimentary rock. When capped by impermeable rocks such as shale, salt, or igneous intrusions, they form the petroleum reservoirs which are exploited today.


Energy is considered as one of the most important inputs to economic growth and development. Its consumption is also one of the significant indicators of the level of development of any country. It is now well recognized that energy services play a crucial role in enhancing social and economic development. Energy has become an engine of economic growth at local and global level. It is needed worldwide for fostering and sustaining development process perspective of developing or developed states of the economy. Keeping in view the global economic growth coupled with an increase in population, the demand for energy is bound to increase and meeting this demand poses serious challenges at the global level. In coming decades, the demand for energy is expected to grow more rapidly in developing countries.

Since independence, the central thrust of Pakistan’s energy policy has been on augmenting the country’s energy system. As a result of significant planning and public investment, there has been substantial expansion of energy sector. Despite the significant development in the energy sector, Pakistan yet suffers from energy shortage. This situation has been increasingly viewed as a bottleneck to industrial and agricultural sectors that in turn are seen critical in stimulating the economic and social development. Being a developing country, Pakistan has faced the challenge of fueling industry and agriculture sectors adequately for meeting growth targets and providing energy at affordable prices to poor especially those living in the rural areas. The availability of energy at affordable prices can be a major factor that determines a whole array of other productive activities leading to economic growth.


Energy sector in Pakistan comprises electricity, gas, petroleum, coal and nuclear power. The share of natural gas in primary energy supplies during 2010 reached 45 percent followed by oil (28 percent), hydro electricity (15 percent), coal (10 percent) and nuclear electricity

(2 percent). As can be seen Pakistan is dependent on oil and Gas, which together contribute around 73% of the total primary energy supplied.


The total installed capacity generation during 2006-07, was 19,440 MW. WAPDA generated 11,363 MW of which, hydle accounts for 56.9 percent or 6,463 MW, thermal accounts for 43.1 percent or 4,900 MW. IPPs generation was 5858 (MW) which constituted 30% of total installed capacity. KESC with 1756 (MW) contributed 9.1% share and nuclear added 2.4%.Number of WAPDA consumers stood at 17 million out of which household accounted for 84%,commercial 13%and industrial and agricultural1.4%each. As on 30th June, 2007 industrial sector consumed 26%, agriculture 12%and households 43% besides commercial and others. The annual per capita electricity consumption in Pakistan is around 320kwh, and this only caters for 60 percent of the population. Forty percent of Pakistanis still have no access to electricity. There is currently load shedding of up to 700 MW a day because of shortage & poor transmission capabilities. Electricity demand is expected to grow by eight per cent a year during the period 2005 – 2015, requiring an annual installation capacity of about 2000 MW for the next 10 years.

Currently about 45% of Pakistan’s power supply is based on natural gas, 28% on oil, 15% on hydro and remaining on coal, nuclear and renewable electricity. Keeping in view the current power mix, it is essential to concentrate on indigenous and cost effective sources for power generation.


Pakistan is currently facing electricity shortfall of around 4000-9000 MW. Everyone agrees that an essential precondition for industrial development is an uninterrupted supply of power.The installed capacity for generation of electricity in the country is 11,500 MW of which 82.7 per cent was thermal; 15.3 percent was hydroelectric and 2 percent was nuclear.

Pakistan needs to sustain an annual economic growth rate of at least 6 to 7 percent to alleviate poverty and realize desirable socio-economic and human development. To achieve the growth target of GDP, it is absolutely essential that the minimum electricity growth rate is maintained. The provision of adequate and reliable supply of electricity at a reasonable cost is a prerequisite to attain this goal. Power is the prime mover. Any big push of the economy would need accelerated power development. But there is a likelihood that Pakistan’s current economic growth might not sustain in the absence of consistent and continuous devolvement of new power projects.


Looking at the power portfolio of Pakistan it looks as if we are living in an oil rich country. Presently, Pakistan has lot of oil fired power plants. Continuous hike in furnace oil prices can make them unviable in near future. But even if circumstances are not extreme, even if there are no upheavals in producing countries, no terrorist attacks and supply disruptions, the prices will keep going up. Why? Because there is a fundamental imbalance for oil in the world economy. Production is just enough to meet demand. There is no spare capacity to take care of unforeseen shutdowns, supply disruption or a further rise in demand.

Such an unbalance power profile carries serious repercussions. An evenhanded power portfolio would require a fair balance among various sources of power with no excessive reliance on any. One of the few matters which must be considered in establishing the power portfolio is that excessive reliance on any single source especially foreign source on which we have no control over supply and price can make things miserable any time. Oil import bill of more than $ 7 billion or around 50% of foreign exchange reserves of a developing economy with no hopes of creating exportable surplus in the near future is undoubtedly very alarming. As 28% of the power generation is based on oil therefore any hindrance in the transportation of oil can cause severe damage to the economy. In short, time has proved that the best solution for all such problems is encouragement and development of indigenous resource. Many countries, including the developed and emerging economies, have adopted extensive programs for increasing hydle and coal based power into their energy portfolios.

It would not be wrong if we say that continuous negligence of indigenous resource has made Pakistan’s power policy directionless. This negligence, absence of priorities and focusing on expensive foreign fuel has made cheap electricity and self reliance a day dream.

Pakistan is fortunate enough to have two cheap indigenous resources for power generation i.e. water and coal. But it is sheer bad luck that we have not been able to use both of these resources effectively. Estimated coal reserves of Pakistan are around 185,175 million tons which is one of the largest coal reserves of the world whereas their utilization for electricity generation is barely ten percent. Essentially indigenous coal-based power will bring various benefits for Pakistan; first and foremost benefit would be immense savings in foreign exchange on import of expensive oil. Coal based power plants are labor intensive and will create thousands of new jobs and various other new business opportunities at plant site in particular and in Pakistan in general.


Like any other country, energy is vital for the economic development of Pakistan. Energy should not only be available but it must be ensured that it is available at a reasonable and affordable price and with out any interruption. For a developing country, like Pakistan where the main stress is on the poverty alleviation, energy plays a positive role. It is imperative that energy production should be environment friendly. More over a mix of energy sources will be helpful in diversification of the sector and would ensure the provision of this vital resource where it is required. The stage of economic development and the standard of living of individuals in a given region strongly influence the link between economic growth and energy demand.

An increased use of energy, either through natural gas or electricity, impacts favourably on the living standards of the poor as they then spend less time looking for alternative forms of fuel such as firewood. Similarly, the provision of electricity to the rural areas can help in raising productivity levels of small-scale industry thereby indirectly raising income levels and in the longer term improving the quality of life for the rural poor.

Rural electrification is important because it brings to the rural areas the benefits that urban consumers take for granted -an improvement in the standard of living with the associated socio-economic benefits. Provision of electric power also has a purely economic outcome that of increasing the productive capacity of the rural areas with increases in agricultural output.


Pakistan historically has been subjected to energy demand suppression due to limited supplies and lack of infrastructure development for provision of energy to the industrial sector. The non availability of sustained and affordable energy to industry has suppressed economic growth and created declining tendency for industrial investment in the country. It is now more important then ever that an adequate supply be made available to industry to drive economic growth, and create employment opportunities. Energy has also to be made available to the domestic sector and the life line segments of society to provide economic support and the convenience of clean fuel for cooking and heating and prevent the continuing environmental degradation and deforestation by massive use of wood for domestic fuel. The commercial availability to various sector of the economy will help in increasing job opportunities, enhancing agriculture productivity, improving standard of living and preserving environment through reducing deforestation.

A long term integrated National Energy Security Plan, covering the period up to 2030 has recently been approved by the Government vide Mid Term Development Framework (MTDF). The energy sector development is aimed at (i) enhancement in the exploitation of hydropower, and exploration and production activities of oil, gas and coal resources, and to increase the share of coal and alternative energy in the overall energy mix, (ii) optimum utilization of the country’s resources base to reduce dependence on imported oil through an institutionalized strategy, (iii) creating an environment conducive to the participation of the private sector, and (iv) developing the local energy scenario in the context of regional perspective. The current energy mix includes 28 percent oil, 45 percent natural gas, 10 percent coal, 15 percent hydro and 2 percent nuclear. By 2015, the share of oil and gas is targeted to be reduced to 25 percent and 42 percent respectively with corresponding increases in the share of coal to 12 percent, hydro to 17.6 percent, renewable to 1 percent and nuclear to 3 percent. Over the long term, the increase in other sources of energy, has been targeted with substantial reduction in the share of oil.

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The identified hydro power potential of Pakistan is 46,000 MW, out of which only 14 per cent (6,500 MW) has been exploited so far. Despite this big potential, no hydro power project has been established by WAPDA since Tarbela Dam. The most feasible and economical project Kala Bagh Dam has become so controversial that it could not take off though successive governments wished so. There are plans to develop the hydro resources on a large scale through storage and run -of-the-river projects. Feasibility studies of several projects have already been prepared, while studies of several additional projects are in progress or planned. Hydro is one of the major economic energy supply options in Pakistan for increasing the energy security of the country. The experts caution that for the time horizons of around 100 years, hydro storage projects are ‘non -renewable’ due to the silting of these reservoirs. For example, over the last 30 years, the storage capacity of Tarbela dam has been reduced by 27 per cent due to silting. Similarly, there is a world wide concern over the dislocation of population and the environmental hazards associated with large dams. Another issue related to the hydro power is that a large number of additional sites with major potential exist in the mountainous North, but the difficulty of access and the high cost of transmission to the populous South make the idea into a completed project a distant prospect. Not only, it means additional cost to build the transmission infrastructure but at the same time a huge loss occurs during the transmission (it is estimated to be between 28 to 30 percent). Another problem is the seasonal variation, where in winter the generation is reduced due to shortage of water in the storages. However, hydro is still the most economical energy resource in Pakistan.


There are considerable oil and gas reserves in Pakistan. The crude oil reserves are estimated at 27 billion barrels including 300 million barrels proven reserves. The level of production is presently 22.6 million barrels compared with the level of consumption of 100 million barrels. The natural gas reserves are 8 trillion cubic meters including the proven reserves of 0.8 trillion cubic meters. The level of production is presently 93 million cubic meters per day compared with the level of consumption of 82 million cubic meters per day. The oil sector has all along been heavily dependant on imports of about 85 percent of the national requirement. Annually about 7.8 million tonnes of crude oil, 5.2 million tonnes of oil products and 2.8 million tonnes of coal are being imported. The local production of oil and gas would start declining due to depletion of resources. There would also be a deficit of gas unless considerable contribution is made from new discoveries. In case the gap is not met through indigenous supply, there will be need to import gas, and the requisite infrastructure would have to be placed in a timely manner.

3.10 COAL

Pakistan’s coal resources are estimated at 185 billion tonnes (82,700 MTOE, or 2 per cent of the world coal resources), out of which 95 per cent are in the Thar coal field in Sindh. This coal is of lignite rank having high moisture content and low heating value. So far only 3.3 billion tonnes of coal resources are in the ‘measured’ category, and considering a recovery factor of 60 per cent, these correspond to some 2.0 billion tonnes of recoverable coal reserves. However, this coal is equivalent to the combined oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran. As part of the strategy of increasing local energy content, a major emphasis is being placed on exploiting coal resources for large-scale use in power generation, and possibly for the production of coal bed methane.


Pakistan has two nuclear power plants, Chashma-1 and Kanupp, with 300 MW and 125 MW respectively, of installed capacity. The PAEC operates both nuclear plants. Pakistan is currently working on a third nuclear power plant (Chashma-2), with the help of China National Nuclear Corporation. The plant will have 325 MW of installed capacity expected to be completed by 2012.


Energy is one of the most important issues for all governments world over. Developed states need energy to sustain their advanced way of life and to cater to the every-changing needs of life dictated by technology. Developing countries need energy for it is the sine qua non for development. Alternative energy has been the most recent addition to the academic and practical aspects of the energy world. The concept is relevant but its importance is absolute. Developed states have begun to manage their energy sector in an increasingly alternative energy based perspective and, this has a great lessons for a country like Pakistan which is aspiring to develop into a healthy economy with an improved quality of life for its citizens. The theory and use of alternative energy is at the most introductory stage in Pakistan. However, in terms of resources and use of alternate energy, Pakistan stands well placed to employ this novel concept in the national policy framework

Alternative or renewable energy, sources show significant promise in helping to reduce the amount of toxins that are by-products of energy use. Not only do they protect against harmful by-products, but using alternative energy helps to preserve many of the natural resources that we currently use as sources of energy.

The Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) has been established to facilitate development of renewable energy projects. At least 5 per cent of the total electricity generating capacity of the country is targeted to be based on these sources by the year 2030.

To understand how alternative energy use can help preserve the delicate ecological balance of the planet, and help us conserve the non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels, it is important to know what types of alternative energy can be brought into reality in Pakistan. Renewable sources of energy like wind power, solar, geothermal energy, wave and tidal power, biomass energy, hydrogen and fuel cells, as well as hydropower are alternatives to fossil fuel and regarded as alternative sources of energy.


Wind power is one of the earliest forms of energy used by humankind. Windmills were used on farms in the early part of the twentieth century to pump water and generate electricity. Now considered an alternative energy source, wind power is being harnessed by modern windmills with lighter, stronger blades. In US states such as California, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Montana, up to several hundred windmills may operate together in open areas with steady winds. Single giant windmills capable of providing electricity to several thousand homes are also operating in the United States. With new technologies being developed to improve windmill performance and efficiency, wind power is a promising, clean, cheap, and abundant source of energy for the future.

The wind power captured by turbines at is a source of energy that does not harm the environment. Wind energy harnesses the power of the wind to propel the blades of wind turbines. The rotation of turbine blades is converted into electrical current by means of an electrical generator. In the older windmills, wind energy was used to turn mechanical machinery to do physical work, like crushing grain or pumping water. Wind towers are usually built together on wind farms. Now, electrical currents are harnessed by large scale wind farms that are used by national electrical grids as well as small individual turbines used for providing electricity to isolated locations or individual homes.

Wind power produces no pollution that can contaminate the environment. Since no chemical processes take place, like in the burning of fossil fuels, in wind power generation, there are no harmful by-products left over. Since wind generation is a renewable source of energy, Pakistan will never run out of it. Farming and grazing can still take place on land occupied by wind turbines which can help in the production of bio-fuels. Wind farms can be built off-shore.

Since 2001, global wind capacity has nearly doubled to 47,760 megawatts and is cheaper than natural gas even without subsidies; on good sites, wind is even closing in on coal. Pakistan has potentials of wind energy ranging from 10000MW, yet power generation through wind is in intiaial stages in Pakistnan and currently 06 MW has been installed in first phase in Jhampir through a Turkish company and 50 MW will be installed shortly. More wind power plants will be built in Jhampir, Gharo, Keti Bandar and Bin Qasim Karachi.


Energy from the Sun is a free, abundant, and nonpolluting source of energy. Solar power involves using solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity, using sunlight hitting solar thermal panels to convert sunlight to heat water or air. Pakistan has potential of more than 100,000 MW from solar energy. Buildinn of solar power plants is underway in Kashmir, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. However, private vendors are importing panels/solar water heaters for consumption in the market. Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) is working for 20,000 solar water heaters in Gilgit Baltistan. Mobile companies have been asked by theh government to shift supply of energy to their transmission towers from petroleum to solar energy panels.


Geothermal energy harnesses the heat energy present underneath the Earth. Hot rocks under the ground heat water to produce steam. When holes are drilled in the region, the steam that shoots up is purified and is used to drive turbines, which power electric generators. If done correctly, geothermal energy produces no harmful by-products. Once a geothermal plant is build, it is generally self-sufficient energy wise. Geothermal power plants are generally small and have little effect on the natural landscape.

Geothermal energy is the natural heat generated in the interior of Earth and released from volcanoes and hot springs or from geysers that shoot out heated water and steam. Reservoirs of hot water and steam under Earth’s surface can be accessed by drilling through the rock layer. The naturally heated water can be used to heat buildings, while the steam can be used to generate electricity. Steam can also be produced by pumping cold water into rock that is heated by geothermal energy; such steam is then used to produce electric power.

Geothermal energy is an important alternative energy source in areas of geothermal activity, including parts of the United States, Iceland, and Italy. Homes in Boise, Idaho, are heated using geothermal energy, as are most buildings in Iceland. The Geysers in California is the largest steam field in the world and has been used to produce electricity since 1960. Unlike solar energy and wind power, however, the use of geothermal energy has an environmental impact. Chemicals in the steam contribute to air pollution, and water mixed with the steam contains dissolved salts that can corrode pipes and harm aquatic ecosystems.


The rise and fall of ocean tides contain enormous amounts of energy that can be captured to produce electricity. Tidal power cab be extracted from Moon-gravity-powered tides by locating a water turbine in a tidal current. The turbine can turn an electrical generator, or a gas compressor, that can then store energy until needed. Coastal tides are a source of clean, free, renewable, and sustainable energy. Plans are underway in Pakistan to harness tidal energy, however, no implementation has been made so far.


Biomass production involves using garbage or other renewable resources such as sugarcane, corn or other vegetation to generate electricity. When garbage decomposes, methane is produced and captured in pipes and later burned to produce electricity. Vegetation and wood can be burned directly to generate energy, like fossil fuels, or processed to form alcohols. Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programs from biomass/biodiesel in the world, followed by USA. Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) of Pakistann has planned to generate 10 MW of electricity from municipal waste in Karachi followed by similar projects in twenty cities of country.


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