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Oil! Final (tentative) (250 points)
Tentative Instructions:
PART 1 (120 points) – Answer a total 8 questions (@ 15 points each.
PARTS 2 and 3 (60 points each) – Answer 4 (@ 15 points each.
Extra Credit You may answer 1 additional question with no penalty.
Include main facts or concepts, but be concise. Simple sketches are welcome to illustrate.
Major Themes since Midterm:
Alaska, Santa Barbara, Russia, Nigeria, Angola, Brazil, Venezuela; Alberta;
Libya; Middle East “tinderbox” of petro-wars; Osama Bin Laden
Gulf of Mexico; Macondo blowout; Tar sands/Oil-shale
“The Switch” (scale of petro-society and any replacements); Duke Energy (Indiana version)
“End of Suburbia” (peak oil; USA lifestyle); Oil curse; Gasoline price factors
Oil spills (Exxon Valdez; BP); Smog and other Pollution
Natural Gas, Fracking; Shale-gas/oil basins, Biofuels; Electric-cars; Hydrogen Fuel cells
General Petroleum, Transport, Accidents, Side-Effects
Why is oil such a good source of energy? What is crude oil? What is the difference between: Light
crude versus Heavy crude; Sweet crude versus Sour crude?
Why was Tetra-ethyl Lead added to Gasoline until the 1980s? And MTBE? And Ethanol?
Qatar, Iran, Trinidad and other countries are exporting their tremendous supplies of natural gas to
overseas markets. What are the potential dangers of their shipping of Liquefied Natural Gas?
What caused the largest accidental oil spill in USA in the previous century? (before 2010)
Describe how 2 of the following 4 oil-spill clean-up procedures “should work”, and why there were “real
world” problems when attempting their use in the huge Exxon Valdez spill:
Barrier booms; Dispersants; Beach cleaning; Bio-degradation
There were several contributing factors, at least 8, that allowed the Macondo BP/Deepwater Horizon
blowout and stupendous oil spill of 2010. List 3 of these, with a brief explanation.
How much oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo BP/Deepwater Horizon blowout?
List 3 of the high-risk factors for fatal auto accidents in the USA, according to statistics.
Carbon Dioxide and Water vapor are the “perfect” exhaust productions of using oil or natural gas,
because these will not directly cause SMOG. However, what is the other climatic side-effect of
these “harmless” emissions? What is the process that causes this side-effect?
What is the “Dutch Disease”?
What happened in Libya that “broke the back of the major oil companies” in the 1960s?
American Lifestyle and Peak Oil
USA Energy Policy – The goal of the “oil” portion of USA Energy policy is a continuous flow of low-
cost oil. There are four main factors in the “petro-strategy” equation – items that, when taken
together, dictate the future directions of USA government involvement. List and explain 3 of
these 4 general factors.
How much Oil — What are Petroleum “Reserves”? Include in your answer the difference between
recoverable and unrecoverable and what percentage of oil is typically produced from an oil field.
What is Hubbert’s Curve? What was one reason that Hubbert’s global prediction of 1990 didn’t occur?
Why should the general public know something about Hubbert’s Curve? How will the average
American know when the Peak Oil plateau is happening?
Oil Fields and Frontiers
What event triggered the 20-year-old ban in offshore drilling everywhere except in the Gulf of Mexico?
Diagram how an offshore platform in deep water works, considering that the waters are too deep for
“legs” and there is usually only a single platform per field.
Which region(s) of the Arctic potentially has the greatest amount of undiscovered Oil, and of
undiscovered Gas?
The Soviet Union was a superpower during the 1970s. Explain (1) how Oil played a critical role in
maintaining its superpower role, and (2) what oil-related events conspired to collapse and break-
up the USSR during the 1980s.
The North Sea fields and the lucrative income to Norway has been dwindling after the 1990s. How has
the Norwegian government tried to avoid a future economic collapse?
Nigeria has the problem that much of its oil infrastructure undergoes violence, illegal oil-tapping or other
hassles. What are petroleum companies doing differently to avoid such problems in Angola?
What in unique about Mexico’s largest field?
What is unconventional oil? How can changes in the geopolitics affect whether we begin to use our
unconventional oil resources.
How does the Fracking process work? What were the critical breakthroughs that were made since 1990
that enabled this method?
Heavy Oil
does one currently extract it, and what are some problems in making this into an economic
resource? What is “tar sand”?
Oil Shale Where are the largest deposits in the world?
How does Fracking work; and what are advantages/disadvantages?
What are two major crops used for Bio-Ethanol, and two major ones for Bio-Diesel?
Why has neither Ethanol nor Bio-diesel yet become a current significant replacement for oil-derived
fuel in USA (or in Europe/Asia), and (b) Why it is unlikely that neither will become a major
future replacement for the majority of transportation fuel in the USA?
Electric-cars – How do these work? What is the potential “limiting mineral”, and its geo-politics?
Hydrogen — Explain how a fuel-cell-driven automobile works. [Diagrams encouraged.]
Hydrogen-fueled cars seem ideal, except a large part of their current cost in bulk manufacture depends on
a certain material. What is this substance?
Hydrogen — How do we currently make large quantities of Hydrogen at low cost? What are the
disadvantages of that current low-cost production system?
What are the main drivers for increased consumption of Oil during the next 25 years?
Getting there — What are some of the main hurdles in immediately achieving a non-petroleum
transportation system for USA?
Oil Giants (60 pts]
Pick just ONE of each pair. Then explain why/how this large oil deposit formed (diagrams are welcome),
Paleo-geography conditions
Source & Reservoir & Seal sediments and setting
Cause of the Structure that caused the oil to “pool” as an economic deposit.
[5 pts extra credit for approximately correct ages “Cretaceous”, “40 Ma” etc.)
Essentially, the choices include all of major fields that we’ve looked at (but pick only 1 in each pair) –
Alaska; Russia; Libya; Norway; Gulf of Mexico; Alberta (tar sands); Venezuela; Fracking-
basins; etc.

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