More than 950 billion barrels of crude have been extracted since 1850

Published 11 May 2009

How much crude oils has been extracted around the world since 1850, the year the first commercial oil-wells were sunk in? Until now, experts calculated that number to be 944 billion barrels; new study suggests a figure that is 35 percent higher than that

Researchers at Aberdeen University have published an estimate of how much crude-oil companies have extracted since the first commercial oil-wells were sunk in the nineteenth century. Currently, estimates of oil extraction vary greatly, but John Jones at Aberdeen University’s School of Engineering claims to have a new way of calculating the extraction that is more accurate than previous estimates.

In 2008 chemists Istvan Lakatos and Julianna Lakatos-Szabo of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences calculated that less than 100 billion tons of crude oil have been produced since 1850 and that the average annual production rate is less than 700 million barrels per year. Jones suggests that this figure underestimates how much oil has been used already.

In his new calculation he takes into account the Oil Depletion Analysis Center’s (ODAC) estimate of 944 billion barrels and factors in the volume of the barrel and crude-oil density. The result is a figure that is 35 percent higher than those previously given.

With concerns about the future supply of oil, Jones said there needs to be further clarification to manage future oil projects.