Crude oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels help to keep industries, infrastructure, and commuters constantly moving. Over the past decade, global oil reserves have grown by as much as 27%, the equivalent of 350 billion barrels; this enough oil to meet 53.3 years of global production. In the United States, the oil and natural gas industry employs 9.8 million Americans and itself composes up to 8% of the United States economy. Here is how the oil gets from the earth to store shelves.
Drilling for oil is a fine-tuned science that continues to evolve year after year. With the development of portable drilling rig masts, drilling companies are able to pick a site and set the drilling rig mast up as a single unit capable of pumping oil. Thanks to advanced methods such as fracking, at least two million oil and gas wells have been hydraulically fractured since 2013; today up to 95% of these wells are fractured. A year earlier, 2012, saw the oil and gas industry add 4.5 billion barrels to the proved resources — this was a 15.4% increase from 2011’s numbers, making it the single largest annual increase for the industry since 1970.
In addition to terrestrial drilling techniques, the industry continues to develop safer, more productive drilling methods. In total, offshore oil production accounts for around 30% of the world’s total oil production while offshore gas generates nearly half of the globe’s production of natural gas. The offshore rigs of today can drill in depths reaching 7,500 feet and as far as 200 miles from the shore. As the industry continues to develop new drilling, refining, and localizing techniques for these fossil fuels we may one day be able to provide cleaner burning gas and oil that is easier to extract for tomorrow’s employees.