Working with State, National, and Global Petroleum Data
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Humans have known and used various hydrocarbons for millennia: tar for waterproofing, petroleum for lubrication, natural gas for medicine. The first recorded use of natural gas in what is now the United States occurred in 1626, when French explorers observed Native Americans burning gas that seeped naturally to the surface in and around Lake Erie. American settlers in the Midwest occasionally found gas in unsuccessful water wells. Today, fossil fuels form the basis for the modern industrial economy, and oil is traded and shipped around the world as a commodity.
Many people have predicted diverse dates for the time of maximum oil production worldwide. Some say it has occurred, back in 2005, while others expect that it will come during the next decade. A smaller group maintains that the world can sustain a high output of oil for up to a century. Finally, there is a minority view that the world will never run out of oil, because hydrocarbons are continually forming in the mantle and rising into the crust.
Student materials for this exercise include a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with data on oil production in Illinois, the US, and the world and consumption and import information for the US. A separate file holds student instructions and questions. The exercise is divided into three parts.
Part I introduces the concept of oil production curves for regions illustrated by Illinois and the United States. Based on these curves, students identify peaks in production through time.
In Part II, students work with consumption and import data for the US and examine the interplay between these two variables. This section also utilizes freeform shapes in Excel to help students compare the changes in consumption with those in imports.
Part III involves creating a graph of world oil production and interpreting it in terms of a possible peak. This part of the exercise also illustrates the concept of peak oil via a set of figures (production data for deepwater oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico, Hubbert's 1956 prediction of a US peak in 1970, and historical world data to 2003 and 2017).
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment: Student Instructions for Petroleum Data (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 6.8MB Jun17 19)
- Instructors Notes: Instructors Notes for Petroleum Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 2.6MB Jun17 19)
- Student Workbook for Petroleum Activity (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 4.7MB Jun17 19)
Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 2018, About Oil and Gas in Illinois: Online resource – Accessed 17 June 2019
US Energy Information Administration, 2018, International Energy Outlook 2018: Online resource – Accessed 17 June 2019
International Energy Agency, 2019: Online resource – Accessed 17 June 2019