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A New Long Term Assessment of Energy Return on Investment (EROI) for U.S. Oil and Gas Discovery and Production

Author

Listed:
  • Megan C. Guilford

    () (Department of Environmental Studies, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA)

  • Charles A.S. Hall

    () (Department of Environmental Studies, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA
    Program in Biology and Environmental Sciences, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA)

  • Peter O’Connor

    () (Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA)

  • Cutler J. Cleveland

    () (Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA)

Abstract

Oil and gas are the main sources of energy in the United States. Part of their appeal is the high Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI) when procuring them. We assessed data from the United States Bureau of the Census of Mineral Industries, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Oil and Gas Journal for the years 1919–2007 and from oil analyst Jean Laherrere to derive EROI for both finding and producing oil and gas. We found two general patterns in the relation of energy gains compared to energy costs: a gradual secular decrease in EROI and an inverse relation to drilling effort. EROI for finding oil and gas decreased exponentially from 1200:1 in 1919 to 5:1 in 2007. The EROI for production of the oil and gas industry was about 20:1 from 1919 to 1972, declined to about 8:1 in 1982 when peak drilling occurred, recovered to about 17:1 from 1986–2002 and declined sharply to about 11:1 in the mid to late 2000s. The slowly declining secular trend has been partly masked by changing effort: the lower the intensity of drilling, the higher the EROI compared to the secular trend. Fuel consumption within the oil and gas industry grew continuously from 1919 through the early 1980s, declined in the mid-1990s, and has increased recently, not surprisingly linked to the increased cost of finding and extracting oil.

Suggested Citation

  • Megan C. Guilford & Charles A.S. Hall & Peter O’Connor & Cutler J. Cleveland, 2011. "A New Long Term Assessment of Energy Return on Investment (EROI) for U.S. Oil and Gas Discovery and Production," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(10), pages 1-22, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:10:p:1866-1887:d:14361
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cleveland, Cutler J., 2005. "Net energy from the extraction of oil and gas in the United States," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 769-782.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Zhaoyang Kong & Xiucheng Dong & Bo Xu & Rui Li & Qiang Yin & Cuifang Song, 2015. "EROI Analysis for Direct Coal Liquefaction without and with CCS: The Case of the Shenhua DCL Project in China," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-22, January.
    2. repec:eee:ecomod:v:315:y:2015:i:c:p:57-68 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Adam R. Brandt, 2017. "How Does Energy Resource Depletion Affect Prosperity? Mathematics of a Minimum Energy Return on Investment (EROI)," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-12, March.
    4. repec:eee:appene:v:206:y:2017:i:c:p:1076-1087 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Haugom, Erik & Mydland, Ørjan & Pichler, Alois, 2016. "Long term oil prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 84-94.
    6. Raugei, Marco & Fullana-i-Palmer, Pere & Fthenakis, Vasilis, 2012. "The energy return on energy investment (EROI) of photovoltaics: Methodology and comparisons with fossil fuel life cycles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 576-582.
    7. Friedrichs, Jörg & Inderwildi, Oliver R., 2013. "The carbon curse: Are fuel rich countries doomed to high CO2 intensities?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1356-1365.
    8. Hu, Yan & Hall, Charles A.S. & Wang, Jianliang & Feng, Lianyong & Poisson, Alexandre, 2013. "Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of China's conventional fossil fuels: Historical and future trends," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 352-364.
    9. Fizaine, Florian & Court, Victor, 2015. "Renewable electricity producing technologies and metal depletion: A sensitivity analysis using the EROI," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 106-118.
    10. Hallock, John L. & Wu, Wei & Hall, Charles A.S. & Jefferson, Michael, 2014. "Forecasting the limits to the availability and diversity of global conventional oil supply: Validation," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 130-153.
    11. Victor Court & Florian Fizaine, 2014. "Energy transition towards renewables and metal depletion: an approach through the EROI concept," Post-Print hal-01411803, HAL.
    12. Atlason, R.S. & Unnthorsson, R., 2013. "Hot water production improves the energy return on investment of geothermal power plants," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 273-280.
    13. Brandt, Adam R. & Yeskoo, Tim & Vafi, Kourosh, 2015. "Net energy analysis of Bakken crude oil production using a well-level engineering-based model," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 93(P2), pages 2191-2198.
    14. repec:eee:ecolec:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:145-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Lambert, Jessica G. & Hall, Charles A.S. & Balogh, Stephen & Gupta, Ajay & Arnold, Michelle, 2014. "Energy, EROI and quality of life," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 153-167.
    16. Victor Court & Florian Fizaine, 2015. "Estimations of very long-term time series of global energy return-on-investment (EROI) of coal, oil and gas productions," Working Papers 1510, Chaire Economie du climat.
    17. Hall, Charles A.S. & Lambert, Jessica G. & Balogh, Stephen B., 2014. "EROI of different fuels and the implications for society," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 141-152.
    18. Aragão, Amanda & Giampietro, Mario, 2016. "An integrated multi-scale approach to assess the performance of energy systems illustrated with data from the Brazilian oil and natural gas sector," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(P2), pages 1412-1423.
    19. repec:eee:renene:v:116:y:2018:i:pa:p:258-271 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Court, Victor & Fizaine, Florian, 2017. "Long-Term Estimates of the Energy-Return-on-Investment (EROI) of Coal, Oil, and Gas Global Productions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 145-159.
    21. repec:eee:energy:v:128:y:2017:i:c:p:540-549 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    EROI; oil; gas; depletion; energy cost;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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