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WEB INQUIRY: How can the world prolong its use of oil?

Follow these directions to answer the Focus Question. 250 POINTS.

READ

Review background information about petroleum and its origins.

Why is petroleum so important?

Petroleum — it's hard to imagine what life would be like without oil and all the things derived
from petroleum. Oil products power cars and trucks, heat homes, contain food, and clothe
people. Even the asphalt cars are driven on comes from petroleum. Next to the air people breathe
and the food and water they eat and drink, petroleum is probably the single most valuable natural
resource.

Where does the oil come from?

Oil is a fossil fuel, formed through the decay of dead plants, animals, and microorganisms. After
they died, these organisms sank to the bottom of ponds or shallow seas and were buried by sand,
soil, and other particles eroded from the land and washed into the water. Over the course of
millions of years, the decaying organic material was converted to oil.

Much of the oil seeped through the rock all the way to the surface, where it was broken down.
However, some of the oil became trapped underground. All of the gasoline and other petroleum
products that people use, and will make in the future, comes from this trapped oil.

How is this oil retrieved?

There are entire industries devoted to finding, producing, transporting, and refining oil and its
products. Through this Web Inquiry, you will research these industries to find out what they do
and how they do it.
WEB INQUIRY: How can the world prolong its use of oil?

RESEARCH

Use the web sites provided to learn more about petroleum formation, production, uses, and
reserves that remain.

Site 1:

Discover Petroleum InfoBank

http://resources.schoolscience.co.uk/ExxonMobil/infobank/4/2index.htm?2home.htm



Learn about oil formation and reserves.


Select the "Origins of oil" link to access pertinent information.


Answer questions 1-7 on the Respond sheet.

Site 2:

Fossil Fuels

http://fossil.energy.gov/education/energylessons/



Select the Looking Down an Oil Well link to learn about finding and extracting oil from
underground reserves.


Click the right arrow to progress through this tutorial (four pages in all).


Answer questions 8-13.

Site 3:

BP: Statistical Review 2009

http://www.investis.com/bp_acc_ia/stat_review_2008/htdocs/



Learn how long the world can continue using oil at today's rate.


Access two reports from the left menu: Oil Proved Reserves and Oil Production by
Region


Use the report data (for the year 2008) to answer questions 14-19.
WEB INQUIRY: How can the world prolong its use of oil?

Respond:

Answer questions related to oil formation and processing. Then, estimate the amount of time that
current reserves will last. Finally, address the Focus Question: How can the world prolong its use
of oil? Write a letter to your congressional representative telling him or her how you think the
world should work to extend its oil reserves.
WEB INQUIRY: How can the world prolong its use of oil?

RESPOND QUESTIONS

Oil Formation


What was the starting material for oil formation?


How was the starting material changed during oil formation?


How long ago did the oil that's being used today form?


Is oil contained in underground pools? If not, describe how oil is contained.


What additional substances are found with oil?


How is the oil trapped underground?


Why is oil considered a nonrenewable source of energy?



WEB INQUIRY: How can the world prolong its use of oil?

Finding and Producing Oil


What geological clues do scientists use to narrow their search for oil?


How are sound waves used to locate oil?


In the primary production stage, how is the oil recovered from underground? How much of the
oil can be recovered this way?


Describe two secondary recovery processes. Why are such processes important?


How much additional oil can be recovered through secondary recovery?




How much of the oil is left in the ground after secondary recovery? What happens to this oil?


How long can the world continue using oil at today's rates?

To determine this period of time, you need to know how much oil still remains and how much oil
is consumed each year. You may assume that all of the oil produced each year is used during that
year.


Oil Proved Reserves: Examine the chart, which depicts available oil reserves in the world's
geographic regions.

Add the reserves of each oil-producing region to determine the amount of oil that remains
available for use. The 2008 data is located in the table below to chart. Keep in mind that
this is the amount of oil that can be produced using today's technologies. Enter that value
here: ________________________ thousand million barrels.

Convert this total to barrels (multiply by 109) __________________________ barrels.

Oil Production by Region: Examine the chart, which depicts daily oil production in the world's
geographic regions.

Use the 2008 data (located beneath the chart) to calculate the total world oil production
per day: __________________________ thousand barrels/day.

Convert this total to barrels per year (multiply by 365,000) __________________________
barrels/yr.

To determine how many more years the world can continue to use oil at the current rate, divide
the amount of reserves (Question 15) by the amount of oil produced each year (Question
17). Enter that value here: ___ years.
WEB INQUIRY: How can the world prolong its use of oil?


List several ways to increase the amount of time that remains before the world runs out of oil.
Consider these ideas as you complete the next section of the Respond sheet.

Conclusion

The world's oil supply is running out. It won't be gone today, it may not be gone tomorrow, but it
will be gone someday — unless action is taken. Think about what you have learned in this Web
Inquiry and consider what you think should be done. How can the world prolong its use of oil?
Should consumers work to conserve the oil that is left? Should petroleum companies explore and
open new oil fields? Should scientists concentrate their efforts on new technologies to get more
oil out of the ground? Should scientists look for alternative sources of energy? You decide.

Address the Focus Question: How can the world prolong its use of oil? Write a letter to your
congressional representative telling him or her what you think should be done to ensure that the
world has petroleum for a long time to come. Be sure to justify your decision using what you
have learned about oil, its formation, and its production. Attach your letter to this Respond sheet.

Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.