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Oil and the Future of Marine Corps Aviation

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Research paper

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When the average price per barrel of oil recently hit an all-time high of over 68.00 per barrel, and gasoline prices topped 3.00 a gallon, many Americans were once again driven by economic concern to question the Nations energy policies. Every President since Nixon has had to deal with some form of energy shortage or volatile price fluctuations. However, several factors make today different from the past. First, research studies and congressional investigations have posed viable solutions to the problem, but the country has consistently failed to act upon them. Second, oil prices are unlikely to decrease as they did in the late 1980s and 1990s, when oil bottomed out at 10 a barrel. Third, world demand for oil is projected to increase 47 by the year 2030 to 118 million barrels a day. Chinas and Indias rapid economic growth alone is responsible for 43 of the 47 increase. A geological possibility is looming before us that would dramatically complicate this problem. The Hubberts Peak theory posits that at a point in the future, the world will reach peak oil production, after which production will begin to decrease significantly. This will occur just as the worlds demand for oil is increasing. Unconventional fuels created from coal, tar sands, and oil shale are a potential source of fuel for the Department of Defense, but the nations ability to convert these minerals into a usable fuel exists only in experimental-scale plants. Even if the capability is developed, the increased cost of producing unconventional fuels will have to be absorbed by users in the form of higher costs. This paper examines the impact of decreasing oil production and increasing oil prices on Marine Aviation, the one element of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force most dependent on oil. Higher prices combined with decreasing supply have the potential to cripple military aviation to the point where DoD begins to rethink the structure of aviation within the armed services.

Subject Categories:

  • Geology, Geochemistry and Mineralogy
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Fuels

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