Modeling Oil Consumption

Team: 49


Area of Science: Economics

Interim: Problem Definition:
With the rapidly expanding populations of today and the further industrialization of nations, resources are becoming ever more scarce and necessary to sustain the global population. With this in mind it is logical to maximize the potential of available resources by using them more efficiently and conserving them appropriately. This is particularly important in the study of non-renewable resources because a finite supply exists and it is in the best interest of the nations to use resources as efficiently as possible for the maximum benefit to the population. Although our model will be applicable to any situation, the United States is a good example with production at 8 million barrels of oil per day and consumption at nearly 20 million barrels of oil per day. This is definitely a problem, since about 3 trillion barrels of recoverable oil is left in the Earth.

We plan to develop a model of resource consumption using crude oil as a non-renewable natural resource in our model. While today oil is used primarily as a fuel, its uses to the developed and developing nations go far beyond its use as a fuel. Oil, so long as it exists in quantity, will continue to remain a valuable resource of hydrocarbons to produce advanced materials and to be exploited as a fossil fuel. We are working on developing a model that will investigate the exploitation of oil as a future resource and attempt to maximize the utility of crude oil without employing drastic measures such as removing cars from the face of Earth.

Computational Problem Solving:
We are beginning to set up a computer program that will be used to model the consumption of oil over a period of time, likely until it is largely depleted. The model rests on the premise that oil exists in finite quantity. The model will therefore establish a quantity of oil as a base. The consumption of oil will then be based on largely on two concepts; the number of people consuming oil world wide and the quantity of oil consumed by a person on average. These two variables will be heavily modified to attempt to account for changes in the number of people world wide consuming oil and how efficiently the oil is consumed. Numerous possibilities will be explored in order to investigate the impact of policy and other changes that affect the manner in which oil is consumed. This model will then be used to delve into specific situations and scenarios which will be included with our presentation.

Progress to Date:
As of present, we have conducted a hefty amount of research about oil consumption on the national and individual levels. We have also established the basic core of our program which is to use population and consumption per person to evaluate how long the oil will last, and we have established that we will use "modifier" variables to account for technological gains, population bursts, and so forth. This list of modifiers is expected to grow so that our program can be as accurate as possible.

Expected Results:
From data obtained by running our model, we expect to produce graphs that will graphically represent oil consumption over time, the depletion of oil, and other aspects pertaining to the consumption of oil. We expect to obtain data that will represent the period of time over which oil is depleted based on various test scenarios developed in conjunction with our model. Through the use of supercomputers we will be able to have such data for every month, perhaps even day of the future. This information will be highly useful to the men and women of many professions.

ABC News.
Z Magazine.

Team Members:

  Jack Yu
  Mikhail Shashkov
  Luke Storer

Sponsoring Teacher: Diane Medford