The limit is how much is in the ground below it and how easy it is to get to what’s in the ground below it. Oil is found deep within the earth (there isn’t too much left near the surface—all that black gold has already been discovered and extracted [and burnt, releasing all the carbon found into it into the atmosphere]—so they have to dig down to get to it)…. so there isn’t usually a problem of them caving in or anything. The link gives you a list of how much oil is underneath each country — there are approximately 70 billion barrels of oil left underneath North America alone — the world total is 1,238 billion barrels of oil — over a trillion barrels down there. So the limit is when the oil dries out, but in many places, that isn’t going to happen for quite some time. (The question is: Should WE PUT A LIMIT on how much should be taken from one spot — any conservatives out there say we shouldn’t?)
The limit may actually be considerably less than the total amount present – that’s the difference between “oil in place” and “technically recoverable reserves.” The latter may not be the same as economically producible oil, either. Consequently oil fields need to be carefully managed to extract the oil at a carefully determined rate to maximize the total available. There are oil fields in Russia where they tried to get as much as they could out as fast as they could, with the result that reportedly in some cases, billions of barrels were left in the ground and cannot be produced because the formations and pressures have been so damaged. This happened in the US in the early days as well, in places like Pennsylvania.
Even with good production practices, the amount producible may be anywhere from 10% to 90% of the oil in place, depending on a great many variables.
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