Petroleum — A Prediction Made in 1950

by James H. Hayes


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Written in March-April of 1950, this paper outlines the world petroleum situation at that time, and predicts its effect on the United States. 1950 data on the world's oil sources and known reserves clearly indicated a depleted supply. The author summarized the future as follows: (1) U.S. natural crude will be depleted in two generations. (2) Conservation policies should be started early. (3) Oil will cost more. (4) Armed Forces' dependence on imported petroleum requires close cooperation with the State Department to secure oil sources by diplomatic means. (5) Oil will affect U.S. foreign policy, particularly our interests in Arabia, Iran, and the Indies. (6) Middle East oil should be given high-level staff consideration. The author warned of the need to check petroleum sources, to investigate how long they will last and where a world situation will make them inaccessible, and to plan to replace them by alternative sources or synthetic processes.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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