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

  • 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)

Registered author(s):

    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.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 10 (October)
    Pages: 1866-1887

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:10:p:1866-1887:d:14361
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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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