I’ve gone and designed an entire earth-like planet where life had never evolved. Oil can be reached if needed—the purpose of this question is to find how far they can go and avoid it. (Oil is generated the same way it is on earth— formed over 30km deep in the asthenosphere and pushed up through fissures in the plates, creating deposits within 200M of the surface in some areas).
Settlement: A human civilization has grown to just over 3 million population in 5 major enclosed cities.
No life, so no oxygen. The outside air is toxic and the land is sterile (but has same basic elements we have so it’s easy for microbes to fertilize)
Agriculture and foresting land is about 15 persons per acre, and this is their main oxygen supply besides geothermal powered chemical reactors.
They use a trivial amount of combustion due to the scarcity of oxygen. No combustion engines or jets, or even open flames generally.
My story needs to be set before petrochemicals and oil production, I don’t know when oil will become necessary (or if I’ve passed it already).
- Before petroleum we relied on animal fat, pectin, leather, rubber, etc., which is fine until you are taking your food supply to make plastics and lubricants. It’s unsustainable after a point, you need your plants and animals for food and oxygen and fertilizing.
- Because oil has been successfully created in a lab, this problem accepts current abiogenic oil generation theory. Some have opinions, but biogenic oil isn’t a consideration in this problem.
So the question is, how far can I go and avoid drilling for oil?
When will the population density consume hydrocarbon products faster than the artificial biome can supply?