Cape Cross : Past and Present by P. & M. Bridgeford ; edited by Hu. Berry ; illustrations, M.

By P. & M. Bridgeford ; edited by Hu. Berry ; illustrations, M. Bridgeford.

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27 × 109 tonnes of oil equivalent. Based on these figures, the reserves to production ratio of the world’s conventional gas reserves is estimated to lie around 61 years [3]. In recent years, the gas industry has developed an increasing interest in nonconventional gas reserves, such as coalbed methane, tight-gas sands and methane hydrates. Tight-gas sands and coalbed methane are already economically produced at certain locations, while energy recovery from methane hydrate is still far from being a commercial application.

The difficulty of these projections lies in the fact that, in reality, production curves are not likely to be symmetrical. The shape of the trailing leg of the Hubbert curve is a function of many variables including supply, price, access to environmentally sensitive areas and technology. Many curve-fitting models only poorly reflect the improvements in oil recovering technology and the – hardly predictable – influence of fluctuating oil prices. Interestingly, most recent results of curve-fitting methods show a consistent tendency to predict a peak within a few years, followed by a decline, no matter when the predictions were made [4].

Depending on the nature and location of the extracted fuel, these processes may affect the local environment in various ways. Coal extraction, particularly from surface mines, disrupts the natural landscape and produces large quantities of waste. The same holds true for surface mining of nonconventional oil resources such as tar sands. Production of conventional oil and gas reserves usually has less visible impact on the natural landscape. Deforestation and erosion, disturbance of ecosystems and animal populations, local pollution because of accidental spills and human health and safety risks for neighboring communities are possible environmental consequences.

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