World's Oil Supply to Last to Middle 21st Century, Says Geological Survey

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WASHINGTON - The world appears to have enough oil to last until the mid-21st century, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report.

But, it said, because most of the known and undiscovered reserves are found principally in the Middle East, Americans can expect to face several repetitions of the energy crises of the 1970.

In the 25-page report ""World Petroleum Resources,'' completed last month, government geologists said their survey of potential oil-bearing formations around the globe indicates there are none equivalent to those in the Middle East.

""The most important conclusion of our study is that the Middle East increasingly will monopolize world petroleum supplies,'' said Charles Masters, the chief author of the report. ""Even with continued frontier exploration effort and success, that distribution reality is not likely to change.''

The study said discoveries of new oil appear to be on a permanent decline from a high of some 35 billion barrels per year in the 1950s to between 10 billion and 15 billion barrels annually in recent years.

Given this trend, it said, ""we can project the potential for substantial oil discovery and production to the middle of the 21st century.''

The report dismissed what it called ""the commonly held assumption'' that discoveries have dropped because of a decline in exploration caused by a current surplus in world oil supplies.

""To the contrary,'' it said, ""the amount of drilling effort has stayed constant over time. . .Rather than measuring a lessening resolve, the decline in discovery. . .reflects the lower-grade prospects available to, or conceived by, the world exploration community.

""Most certainly, we do not believe we have missed the recognition of another Middle East,'' it said.

Meanwhile, the researchers noted, annual production and consumption of oil has continued along at about 20 billion barrels per year and is outpacing new discoveries by almost two to one. …