Jim Henry, Henry Petroleum – "Most of the wells in this area produce about 7 barrels per day, this well once produced 100 barrels per day about 30 years ago. Since then it's declined because it's only so much oil down in the ground so we're producing it all, it's running out of oil."
Oil – or black gold – has become the lifeblood of the human infrastructure.
But our supplies are now beginning to fail us.
Since a peak in the 1970s, extraction of crude oil in the United States has consistently declined, as consumption has increased.
Around the world, easily accessible supplies of crude oil have been largely exhausted.
As a result, oil is becoming increasingly hard to find.
Richard Hardman, Geologist and Explorationist – "We have the North Sea, a very important producer. The Middle East where 50% of the currently remaining reserves exists. What you can see is that we virtually have explored all the sedimentary basins which are likely to contain oil."
From Nigeria to Kazakhstan, Ecuador to northern Canada, the hunt for new oil reserves is on.
And this presents considerable environmental conflict.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Paul Domjan, Former Energy Security Advisor, US – "The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is for some people a touchstone for the search for new oil. It's really an untouched area of natural beauty in a very remote corner of Alaska. This is a classic case where the desire for environmental preservation and the search for oil come into conflict."
Like Alaska, the pristine habitats of remote Greenland are now viewed as one of the last great fossil fuel frontiers.
The US Geological Survey estimates that this territory could hold 50 billion barrels of oil and gas.
Risks of Frontier Oil
Not only is the excavation of oil from these remote, pristine habitats dangerous to the environment, it is also incredibly expensive and risky.
Paul Domjan, Former Energy Security Advisor, US - "The search for oil is much more difficult than most people think it is. Even with all of our computers and seismic surveys and geophysics and whatnot - all that we know is: Is there a reservoir there? But until you actually go out with a rig and drill just like we did in Texas in the 19th century, we don't know if there's actually oil in that reservoir."
More and more, oil and gas reserves will come from areas where the risks and impacts are high, and the yields are potentially low.
Frontier oil exploration throws into harsh focus the increasing 'cost' of fossil fuels and the financial and ecological price we're willing to pay.