Energy Systems Scale and Timeline
- The world currently uses about 86 million barrels per day of oil—40,000 gallons every second.
- New, large oil discoveries can take 15-20 years from exploration until production actually begins, and production can continue for 50 years and more.
- A major new oil platform can cost billions and take a decade or more to complete. The Hibernia platform off the east coast of Canada cost $5 billion, took 19 years from discovery to production, and produces only 0.2 percent of world oil demand. The Thunder Horse platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico cost $4 billion, is not yet operating eight years after discovery, and has a capacity of 0.3 percent of world oil demand.
- A new average-sized U.S. refinery (120,000 barrels per day of crude oil distillation capacity) would cost $3 billion or more and would increase U.S. refining capacity less than 1 percent.
- The United States has about 200,000 miles of oil and about 280,000 miles of natural pipeline, built up over the last century.
- It can take over two decades for a newly commercialized technology to be broadly applied in the vehicle fleet actually on the road—examples include fuel injection and front wheel drive.
- Buildings typically last for decades. Many of the attributes that affect energy consumption are costly and difficult to retrofit after initial installation, for example wall thickness, insulation, structural tightness, and windows.
- Commercializing new technology in the oil and gas market takes an average of 16 years to progress from concept to widespread commercial adoption.