“I saw the news today, oh boy. Three Saudi cities are up in flames,
people with big guns are going nuts, and everyone that can find a plane
is leaving that country in one big hurry. It's like Saigon in a sand
box. (Not that I actually remember Saigon.) Local news guys are talking
about what it means to us--and our oil. Maybe I'd better go fill up
the car before everyone else does. I hate being stuck in long lines.”
“Some two hundred kilometers east of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is
a stretch of uninhabited and unremarkable desert in the Empty Quarter.
This hot, desolate landscape sits above the largest oil field in the
world: the Ghawar. It's a big chunk of nothing one hundred and fifty
miles long and twenty-five miles wide, but thousands of meters below
its surface lie seventy billion barrels of oil patiently waiting to
be pumped out. They've waited for millions of years. A few more won't
matter. And after that? After that, Ghawar will no longer be dying.
It will be dead. Nothing left but sand and sinkholes.
“Before you sit back, all smug and comfy with that seventy billion
barrel figure, let me do a bit of quick math for you: that's only an
875 day supply of oil for the world at the current rate of use. (And
that rate rises every year, just as the Ghawar's not unlimited oil reserves
get lower.) Admittedly, the Ghawar is not our only source of oil. (And
unless you happen to be Saudi, its not even your oil at all, now is
it?) Still, the Ghawar is The Big One, and when it goes, things will
change--forever. The only questions are: When will it happen, and how
will we know?”