Peak Oil Indefinitely Postponed

Guest post by David Middleton


The U.S. Geological Survey has made its largest discovery of recoverable crude ever under parts of West Texas, the federal agency announced Tuesday.

A recent assessment found the “Wolfcamp shale” geologic formation in the Midland area holds an estimated 20 billion barrels of accessible oil along with 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. That’s three times higher than the amount of recoverable crude the agency found in the Bakken-Three Forks region in the upper midwest in 2013, making it “the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that USGS has assessed in the United States to date,” according to a statement.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program.

Guidroz attributed that potential to “changes in technology” — i.e., the advent and perfection of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Such advances “can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable,” he said.


Texas Tribune


USGS Press Release

USGS Report

While I take issue with describing this as a “discovery” and with crediting the USGS for the “discovery,” this should not be surprising.   Past history shows us that government agencies always grossly underestimate what the oil industry will find and produce. Alaska’s North Slope has already produced 16 billion barrels of petroleum liquids. Currently developed areas will ultimately produce a total of about 30 billion barrels. The government’s original forecast for the North Slope’s total production was 10 billion barrels. The current USGS estimate for undiscovered oil in the Bakken play of Montana & North Dakota is 25 times larger than the same agency’s 1995 estimate. In 1987, the MMS (now the BOEM)undiscovered resource estimate for the Gulf of Mexico was 9 billion barrels. Today it is 45 billion barrels.

The MMS increased the estimate of undiscovered oil in the Gulf of Mexico from 9 billion barrels in 1987 to the current 45 billion barrels because we discovered a helluva a lot more than 9 billion barrels in the Gulf over the last 20 years. Almost all of the large US fields discovered since 1988 were discovered in the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1988, it was unclear whether or not the deepwater plays would prove to be economic.

Based on the government’s track record, the estimated 116 billion barrels of undiscovered oil under Federal lands is more likely to be 680 billion barrels. That’s close to 100 years worth of current US consumption – And that’s just the undiscovered oil under Federal mineral leases.

When you factor in unconventional oil plays, the numbers become staggering. “Peak Oil,” if it exists, won’t be reached for hundreds of years if the government would just get the Hell out of the way.

It’s just a matter of economics and technology. There will be periods of economic expansion in which demand out-paces supply and there will be periods of supply out-pacing demand… Like the past couple of years.

Technology improves economics. Smaller and smaller oil accumulations can be found and economically recovered even in an environment of stable inflation-adjusted prices because technology is continuously improving… And large discoveries continue to be made in plays that weren’t envisioned just a few years ago. Eventually, we will reach a point where the diminishing returns of technology can’t keep up with oil-related energy demand. But a properly functioning free market will already be delivering economical alternatives as oil begins to price itself out of the market.

Going back to the Gulf of Mexico, two of the eleven largest oil fields in the Gulf’s history (since 1947) were discovered in the late 1980’s and brought on production in the mid-1990’s.  There have been several potentially huge discoveries made in the last 5-10 years in the ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play. These are currently being brought on to production.

The largest field in the Gulf, Shell’s Mars Field, was discovered in 1989. Prior to the Mars discovery, no one seriously believed that Miocene-aged and older reservoirs existed that far away from the established Miocene plays on the shelf.  Since, the Mars discovery, many very large Miocene discoveries have been made in deepwater. The recent discoveries of even older, Lower Tertiary reservoirs in even deeper water was a huge surprise. These reservoirs were thought to have “petered out” even closer to shore than the Miocene reservoirs.

If we’re still finding “giant” fields in the Gulf of Mexico now, in plays that we couldn’t even imagine 30 years ago… What will we find in the 85% of the US Outer Continental Shelf that has never been explored? The handful of discoveries offshore California were made long before modern technology was available. The very few exploratory wells that were allowed in the 1970’s in the Atlantic’s Baltimore Canyon were drilled long before 3d seismic reflection data were available.

Technology also enables us to steadily improve the efficiency of oil recovery from reservoirs. The Bakken formation is thought to have over 40 billion barrels of oil in place. The trick is in recovery techniques. The USGS assumes that 10% is the maximum recovery factor. Twenty years ago, few people thought that Bakken recovery factors could exceed 1%.


Over the past twenty years, drilling, completion and enhanced recovery methods have led to nearly a ten-fold improvement in Bakken oil recovery. There’s no reason to doubt that those recoveries will continue to improve… It’s just a matter of technology and economics.

Hubbert’s Peak Oil Theory is mathematically sound; however it is dependent upon the total recoverable resource potential. Hubbert’s “Peak Oil” prediction was based on the assumption that the total recoverable reserves in the US and our OCS (offshore) were only 150-200 billion barrels. The current DOE estimate is 400 billion barrels – And that estimate was before 2006 and the shale boom and it didn’t include unconventional resource potential (which dwarfs the conventional potential). Shale oil like the Bakken and Eagle Ford is not unconventional oil. It is plain old crude oil. The recovery is unconventional because it’s different than the prior norm; hence they are described as unconventional resources. Oil shale (Green River Formation) and tar sands (Athabasca oil sands) are unconventional oils because they are respectively bituminous kerogen and bitumen  – essentially incompletely formed and degraded crude oil .

The Malthusian record of failed predictions is perfect. Every single Malthusian prediction in recorded history has turned out to be wrong…

Great moments in failed predictions

Posted on January 19, 2013 by Anthony Watts

While searching for something else, I came across this entertaining collection of grand predictive failures related to resources and climate change, along with some of the biggest predictive failures of Paul Ehrlich. I thought it worth sharing.

Exhaustion of Resources

“Indeed it is certain, it is clear to see, that the earth itself is currently more cultivated and developed than in earlier times. Now all places are accessible, all are documented, all are full of business. The most charming farms obliterate empty places, ploughed fields vanquish forests, herds drive out wild beasts, sandy places are planted with crops, stones are fixed, swamps drained, and there are such great cities where formerly hardly a hut… everywhere there is a dwelling, everywhere a multitude, everywhere a government, everywhere there is life. The greatest evidence of the large number of people: we are burdensome to the world, the resources are scarcely adequate to us; and our needs straiten us and complaints are everywhere while already nature does not sustain us.”

■In 1865, Stanley Jevons (one of the most recognized 19th century economists) predicted that England would run out of coal by 1900, and that England’s factories would grind to a standstill.

■In 1885, the US Geological Survey announced that there was “little or no chance” of oil being discovered in California.

■In 1891, it said the same thing about Kansas and Texas. (See Osterfeld, David. Prosperity Versus Planning : How Government Stifles Economic Growth. New York : Oxford University Press, 1992.)

■In 1939 the US Department of the Interior said that American oil supplies would last only another 13 years.

■1944 federal government review predicted that by now the US would have exhausted its reserves of 21 of 41 commodities it examined. Among them were tin, nickel, zinc, lead and manganese.

■In 1949 the Secretary of the Interior announced that the end of US oil was in sight.


UPDATE: reader Dennis Wingo writes in with this table:

Great article. I went into this myself in my book “Moonrush“, I took all of the predictions for the depletion of resources from the book and marked in red the deadlines that had already passed. All of the predictions failed.


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Even bigger than the Bakken? There are a few Saudis who are rethinking their economic modeling. Invite the US into OPEC and restart the cartel?


No point in US joining OPEC.
Production in Cowboyistan can’t be controlled like production in other countries can. Ownership is too fractured.
Harold Hamm (likely our next Secretary of Energy) coined the term and explained the problem last year:

Steve Case

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
First chuckle of the day – actually a good full throated belly laugh (-:

Tom H. and vboring:
Regarding OPEC: my guess is that by the time the West TX Permian and other USA/North/South American fraccing play reserves are consumed there will be REALISTIC cost-effective competition from other energy sources … and that OPEC shares this view … as they realize their descendence toward semi-relevancy.
Note: i spent over a decade working in East and West Siberia during which time I read more than a few articles which were/are of the opinion that West Siberia non-conventionals contain about 60 times the volume of OIL resources as encountered in the Bakken. [Note: there is a different game entirely regarding migrating these resources to the reserves categories.] Of course, nobody knows the real number … but my bet is that they are not far off.
Yep, OPEC is worried … and I and many others are convinced that this is what is motivating their otherwise recent confounding actions. Certainly, OPEC is not dead, but, it is in no position to call the shots.
Note: beware of the Russian potential; not only with respect to production but, perhaps even more importantly, with respect to geopolitics … especially regarding their coziness with Iran [which may be the real wildcard, because of their primary motivations are cultish and not understood fully by the West].

My thought as far as OPEC was more in the direction of the Saudis trying to get “administered” oil prices again, something they might have obtained from Hillary Clinton.


Johnny C,
If something really bad happens in the Mid-East/Persian Gulf to shut down China’s access to that oil, I would expect it to look hungrily toward Siberia.


From everything I have read, China is not only looking towards Siberia, but doing something about it as well.


Next big resource is via solvent extraction from tar sands and high volatile coals/peat One of the world’s largest coal resources in SE Australia has 395 billion tons on land and a further 1,200 Bt under Bass Strait. Net possible volatile (anes and enes) recovery is 20% by weight. Assuming an actually recovery of 60% this equates to 190 Btons of hydrocarbons or 1,400 Billion US barrels or about US$60T at current prices.
There is a larger resource in Germany/Poland.
So no, we are nowhere near Peak Oil and yes this is environmentally friendly as solvents are benign or fully recoverable and can be employed at a lower price as compared to current extraction techniques.
Generally, solvent techniques are not owned by oil companies. Hence the resistance to taking them up by BIG oil (national oil companies, Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron etc). The other major hurdle is BIG oils’s reserve valuations on their balance sheets. There is resistance to downgrading balance sheets to current prices. It affects debt prices dramatically. It makes bankers nervous. So at present, huge low cost reserves do not exist on paper. This will change with just one major putting it on their balance sheet.

Richard G

It was noted in the article that it was a make-believe Republic, so using that train of thought the Republic of Cowboyistan conjures up an image of Unicorns prancing about the prairie, pissing oil and farting NG. Their natural defense when an Eco loon enters the Republic is to chase them out while poking them in the keister with that pointy thing on their head.

Bryan A

comment image
Now THAT’S what I call a hockey stick

I believe the Bakken might have 9 billion recoverable. The post appears to be very optimistic to me (I’ve been in the oil industry for 41 years). I arrived at the conclusion that we were in trouble as an industry around 1990, and I haven’t seen anything since then to change my mind.
I believe oil production will peak because we, as an industry, need more $$$ to extract oil as we move down the pecking order into lousier rocks and harsher environments. One reads a lot about “new technology”, but most of it depends on higher prices because it costs a lot.
This means that today we, as a worldwide industry, can’t make a living if the price drops below say $60 per barrel. Today we have fewer rigs, fewer people, and make a living cannibalizing equipment bought when prices went over $80. Cannibilizing equipment and squeezing contractors, taking on debt and cherry picking drilling spots only takes the industry so far. So I’m pretty sure prices will go above $60. And then they’ll have to go above $80, and $100, and so on. And eventually we will charge so much we won’t be able to compete with something else (I think that may be light weight plug in hybrids that get 60 plus miles per gallon).
Once our prices get high enough, and efficiency/competition reduce demand, if demand reduction isn’t offset by gains in poor countries, we will reach “peak oil”. But poor countries may simply not encourage more vehicles and choose to encourage mass transit.
The process is very hard to model, but it sure looks like peak oil would take place sometime between 2020 and 2040. Peak natural gas should take longer, and peak coal even more. But eventually we simply don’t have the raw resource base to compete with emerging technologies. And if those technologies don’t emerge we are toast. Population will drop and several hundred million will survive squeezing a living. But I’m pretty confident we won’t go extinct or turn into cave people.
By the way, the first time I sat in a discussion about the Permian basin I heard older engineers discuss CO2 flooding and how to fracture the Wolcamp and Spraberry. That was over 30 years ago.


David and fernandoleanme: Thanks for taking the time to write this post and informed rebuttal. What did you think about “Peak Oil” when the concept became popular (in the late 1990’s?) It seems to me that Peak Oil gradually nears when prices have fallen for some time (as they did the early 1990’s) and gradually retreats into the distance after prices have risen (as they did around 2000). Given the relatively inflexible demand for gasoline, oil prices are fairly volatile, making Peak Oil a volatile concept. However, it takes a long time for changing prices influence public/government perceptions about the size of current reserves
As I understand it, converting coal to petroleum products becomes economically viable if petroleum remains above $100/barrel indefinitely.

Peter Sable

The Hubbert Equation is in the same class as the Drake Equation. Utter nonsense, as nobody knows what values the variables are.


Dave – Dead on. “Peak Oil”, coupled with the media-manufactured ME “shortages”, was the marketing ploy that allowed the players to walk the pump prices up with minimum squawk . They’ve been siphoning the Permian now what . . . a century or so? And Wallah! Never was an oil “shortage”. And they have stuff in Alaska they’re sitting on. Thoughts on A-biotic oil?

Frank, I’m not much into Hubbert and his peak oil theory. I come at this from the oil company end. Many years ago I looked at industry wide exploration results, and came to the conclusion we weren’t going to find enough to replace production unless prices rose. And prices did rise, which made exploration for plays like the Kara Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico deep water Eocene a “semiviable” venture. It also allowed more risk taking with extra heavy oil, and of course the “shales” (which is better called light oil in very tight rocks).
Horizontal wells help developing the tight rock, and some of the heavy oils, but the Permian Wolfcamp abd Spraberry are drilled with vertical wells. The “new technology” is more associated with the completion tools and the frac jobs. I’ve been around long enough that I see the new tool kit like a Boeing 787 compared to the 707. I have to look at the full package, and horizontal wells wouldn’t work unless the frac jobs can take place and at a cost that allows the well to produce enough to make a profit.
So what’s happening is enable by “little details” like coil tubing units, packers, plugs, sleeves, and other stuff that works like a charm compared to the brittle and clunky ones we had 30 years ago. And all of these enablers cost a lot more. Shale plays, extra heavy oil, deep water oil, Kashagan (a very difficult field in the Caspian) or Arctic oil just won’t fly at the average price we have had this year. Some of it can be cherry picked, but those huge figures we see don’t materialize unless prices rise.
One issue I bring up is that RCP8.5, the “business as usual” case used in the bulk of the climate model “disaster” scenarios, is a bunch of baloney. It has oil peaking at over 160 million barrels of oil per day. That’s sheer nonsense. If they use a more reasonable case, say an average of RCP6 and RCP4.5, the “damage from climate change” turns out to be negligible, because according to them the temperature increase is mostly locked in (they say the planet already has about 1 degree C temperature increase).
When I use a temperature sensitivity estimated by Curry et al and the emissions and carbon cycle model are used to estimate concentrations using a more reasonable fossil fuel reserve case, the temperature increase above what’s locked in is negligible. And this means the económics case for all the “emergency measures” are mostly worthless EVEN IF WE BELIEVE the models.
This is one issue most of you (to be honest) blow big time. They’ve shoved that RCP8.5 down the world’s throat and you never realize the scheme they use is bogus.

I agree with your date range. My target date is 2024 and the cause is economic, not geology.

I agree with your date estimates.

tony mcleod

“Peak oil will occur when we have consumed half the recoverable resource.”
Not quite David
It’s when production begins to fall. That does not mean half way through the resource. If, as you would expect, we’ve extracted the easiest, cheapest and highest quality resource first, then production may begin to fall before we get to remaining half. Some proportion will be too expensive or energy costly to extract and will remain in the ground


“I arrived at the conclusion that we were in trouble as an industry around 1990, and I haven’t seen anything since then to change my mind.”
fernandoleanme, I’m curious. Are you saying you thought the oil industry was already in trouble in 1990? Has the intervening 26 years really done nothing to make you change your mind, even as far as the timing is concerned?
It seems to me that whenever the oil industry is in trouble, it will produce less oil. Less oil will cause prices to go up, which will help get them out of trouble, at least until production exceeds demand. Then prices will drop and put pressure on the oil industry again. It will always be a balancing act.


fernandoleanme: I’ve heard RCP8.5 described as an economic golden age fueled by coal, not petroleum or natural gas. If I understand correctly, coal can be converted petroleum products by Fisher-Tropch(?) process for the equivalent of $100/barrel. Doesn’t this make the RCP8.5 scenario at least possible?
I think is ridiculous to say that renewable energy is a viable option today AND that RCP8.5 is a plausible scenario for the future If renewable energy is viable today and there is any technological progress, RCP8.5 is unreasonable. If renewable energy is not a viable option today (say because the intermittency/storage problem is never solved) and new technological doesn’t emerge, then RCP8.5 becomes more plausible. Unfortunately, when the phrase “business-as-usual” is used, it assumes no technological progress – which is not business as usual.
As for “committed” warming, I ignore the models and rely on ARGO. With 0.5 W/m2 flowing into the deep ocean – the imbalance remaining from about 2-2.5 W/m2 of current forcing – I estimate that we current warming is 75-80% of the way to equilibrium warming for today’s forcing. Now, some people may say we are committed to a reduction in aerosols, or a saturation of sinks, or an increase in CO2 emissions. Or they are relying on models that are inconsistent with a current imbalance of 0.5 W/m2

Louis: I was working with a group studying how to direct our investment. In 1990 we could keep relying on exploration, hoard cash and purchase weaker companies, risk investing in the former Soviet Union, shift to more gas and rely on LNG to market volumes, stockpile heavy oil molecules in Canada, gamble big time on deep water, or buy up garbage acreage with low quality rocks and wait for prices and technology to evolve.
What we knew was that cheap conventional oil was running out, most of it was in OPEC nations and even they had a limit (for example, we had a very good idea about the Arabian peninsula, Iraq, Iran and North Africa potential).
I, as a member of that particular group, suggested we shift to gas, stockpile heavy oil, buy some medium sized companies, and cut exploration to the bone. I didn’t think the tight oil would be such a good idea, but tight gas with some condensate was an excellent target. As it turned out tight oil works if the oil is very light and the rocks are overpressured (I blew that one).
Frank, converting coal to syncrude is feasible. But RCP8.5 carries separate oil and coal streams. Thus that model doesn’t care if the coal (which it assumes is consumed in prodigious quantities) is burned or converted to oil and burned. Their oil curve is for oil. And nobody in their right mind thinks we can produce upwards of 160 million barrels per day in the 2060’s.
Consider this: that 20 billion barrels is unlikely to peak above 3 million barrels of oil per day, and by 2030 it would be on an irreversible decline.


Fernando: If oil production in RCP8.5 is unrealistically high, then more coal than expected will be converted to petroleum products. Propelling cars with fuel made from coal releases more CO2 than using fuel made from petroleum. So the question is whether CO2 levels in RCP8.5 are unrealistic, not whether a particular mix of fuels will be used.
Historically, a significant growth in GDP has required a significant increase in energy consumption. If there is an economic golden age in the third world and little technological improvement, is RCP8.5 possible even if petroleum is limited?

Dan Davis

Yes, this “News” was an article in “Oil & Gas Journal” over 3 years ago.
Detailed article about those that really discovered the potential using URT (Unconventional Resources Technology)
As David Middleton points out – there are amazing resources of Petroleum Energy yet to be “discovered” and made available to Make the World Great!
Environ-mental-ists just need to find a dark corner and cry, cry, cry…
Just stay the hell out of the way!

loving it

oebele bruinsma

Peak oil? Ejoy this short video:


Bingo OB. I was afraid my lying eyes had deceived me again as I sat in gas lines during the 80’s due to a manufactured gas shortage after the “. . . Saudi’s turned their oil faucet off.”

They wouldnt have released this announcement had Hillary won, they would have announced half or less of the actual finding. Because Hillary would have interfering straight away, carbon tax, oil tax, selling 20% of it off to Qatar, allowing all her friends to get piece of the action and govt too.
So the timing of the release makes sense ie dont release before an election like this.


The big problem with predictions of depletion for metals, is that we don’t use up metals, we just throw them away. Should prices ever rise high enough, some enterprising young businessman will buy up old land fills and start to mine them for all the resources contained in them.


It should be noted that current landfills are rather unique. So much concern was placed upon NOT allowing these aggregations to contaminate the local water tables that they are essentially sealed off. In the absence of moisture there has been very decay of even organic matter. Excavations have brought up years-old food stuffs (hot dogs) that look like they were discarded yesterday. I suspect that the future miners will mostly find a huge supply of paper products from packaging and junk mail.


For an entertaining and informative romp through the contents of our garbage dumps I recommend the book Rubbish by Rathje and Murphy. They are two archeologists from the University of Arizona who, over beers in the UA faculty club one day wondered just what we are throwing away. They and some students dug through several U.S. garbage dumps using normal archeological tools for sorting and cataloguing their finds. It destroys many of the green’s arguments on this subject.

William Grubel

Cool. If true we have paper resources for centuries to come, but doesn’t that also mean that all the other stuff in there is more easily mined too? As soon as all the over regulation is removed I think technology, or better said, entrepreneurs will find a way to recover all sorts of things at a profit. It’s what we Americans do.

Bob Burban

The only metals that humanity loses are those that make up spacecraft that exit the solar system. This deficit is made up many times over by incoming meteorites.


Almost true. As ALL of the satellites placed into orbit will eventually return to mother earth, we won’t be recovering any of the materials sent off to the other planets. It should also be noted that most of the meteors/bolides/meteorites are not metallic but stony. I am unsure as to the amount of metals brought by meteorites raining down on earth versus the mass of metals and other materials being exported, but I believe it to be far less than we send up each year. And, each year we are sending up less and less metal as it becomes replaced with better strength/weight materials.


Even stony meteorites contain some iron and nickel, with the exception of very few, ie the achondrites, with little or no metals.

Estimates vary of how much cosmic dust and meteorites enter Earth’s atmosphere each day, but range anywhere from 5 to 300 metric tons, with estimates made from satellite data and extrapolations of meteorite falls.

Clyde Spencer

To the extent that metals corrode, and the brittle corrosion products are dispersed into the environment at a concentration that makes them unrecoverable economically, there is a slow loss. Some high value metals like gold have very high recycle rates, others like steel, much less so.


Well, I don’t have access to a lot of data to add to these excellent posts on the future prospects of landfill mining, but I do have a personal observation that you might find interesting.
About 8 years ago (give or take a few) when the price of scrap metal got pretty high, some company with mobile car crusher/shredders went through Northern Indiana and cleared out all the old junkyards. Used to be every county had at least one, and usually several. Several acres of junk cars, along with a few piles of broken appliances, torn off tin roofing, and other scrap. All of it got shredded and loaded into hopper trailers and trucked off (to China according to local rumor).
Nowadays there are a few auto junkyards still around, but they usually only hold cars that are up to 25 years old, and only those that can be parted out for someone looking for a few used parts. Most of the scrap gets hauled across the scales at a recycling Plant like OmniSource. In fact, now every county has a metal recycling center, and usually several. ^¿^
We probably will one day mine the old town dumps and landfills, but they might not be as full of treasure as you’d think. Most of it isn’t making it there anymore.


Peak anything also depends on new technologies not expanding the existing reserves. One can never know what will happen in the future with technology and discovery. So peaks will exist for some things but it will be rare for us to know when it will peak or if it will be a permanent peak. Sperm whale oil could be something that has peaked but if it comes into demand and someone comes up with a biological (or other) way to make it outside the sperm whale, it will “unpeak”.
Other things may never peak as new supplies are continuously discovered and new technologies develop. More likely is what happened with whale oil for most uses: something better like petroleum will come along and fewer people will care about the former resource. As things approach peak, whether temporary or not (no one knows at the time if it is temporary), supply and demand may cause prices to rise, which can either drive new technology for that same resource or drive development of alternate replacement resources. Just thinking out loud here.

MarkW, you should see our landfill today as compared to 35 years ago. A tremendous amount of garbage is being separated and recycled. They are siphoning off methane gas and use to produce the electricity to run the operation and even feed excess into the grid. They chomp up yard waste and are turning it into compost and re selling it to the public. Are they getting all of it? Not yet but I believe eventually we will do better. I am not a warmist but even so we do need to take care of the place as best as we can ( One of my uncles in the 50’s actually became a multimillionaire being in the recycling business , it is nothing new)


Biggest problem is….people really have no concept of how big this planet really is…
…and how little of it we really know


…dang just realized I could have gotten one more really in there

You really should have tried.

South River Independent

You really should have really, really tried.


You can start by erasing all the oceanic plates from your oil prospecting map. Then take all regions where volcanics, granite and metamorphic rocks are at the surface or within 100 meters of the surface and erase that as well. Erase Antarctica. Erase every rock layer hotter than 250 degrees C. Erase everything deeper than 10 thousand meters below the surface. What’s leftover is where we can have a remote chance to produce oil. If there’s no source rock you can erase it as well. If it’s dilled up like say the Gulf of Mexico shelf or the large Saudi fields there’s very low chance of finding anything meaningful beyond what we already know about. There just isn’t that much we don’t know about that will make a difference.

D. J. Hawkins

Why erase Antarctica, except for political reasons? IIRC, there was some chatter about huge coal deposits being found there. Where there is coal, isn’t there frequently oil?

I think Antarctica was excluded for practical reasons — there may be oil, but it is too hard to get at.

David, that oil you find doesn’t help worldwide oil production go above 100 million BArrels of crude oil and condensate PER DAY. (I don’t count NGL and biofuels). I have seen plans for mega developments in Venezuela, Russia, Kazakstan and Iran/Iraq. And even those cant help us from reaching a C&C peak by 2040. Why do you think all agencies and oil companies stop their forecasts by 2040? They don’t want to let the cat out of the bag.


When do you think that the abiotic theory of “fossil” fuel origin will become the new discovery. Tom Gold needs a disciple to carry forth his work.There is just too much oil under the earth’s surface.
Dan Kurt

Bruce Cobb

Damn dinos.


Jack Kenney of Gas Resources Corporation, collaborating with Ukrainian and Russian colleagues, has carried on Gold’s work. IMO there might be some abiotic petroleum or oil produced from deep microbes, but most if not all of it found to date is of biological origin. Gas is produced both biotically and abiotically, but IMO coal is of organic origin.


Jack Kenney of Gas Resources Corporation, collaborating with Ukrainian and Russian colleagues, has carried on Gold’s work.

Gold stole the Russian’s work. It was Cold War time when he did it (1979, I think). No one thought to verify with the Russians.
Dr. J F Kenney describes it here:


Replying to Dan Kurt.


Gold made original contributions.

Gold is a charlatan and the abiotic oil idea is worthless.


The East Ukraine Dneiper-Donetsk Basin oil is proof of bringing in a field using the Russian/Ukraine abiotic theory.


There are big fights currently between the oil companies in a quest to get royalty agreements with landowners within the Wolfcamp formation. For the US, this is a huge deal. The oil is in an area that can be easily exploited and a lot of the infrastructure is in place to deliver it. And it is in a oil friendly state.
Saudi Arabia and Russia are in big trouble with this one. With oil supply probably just now matching oil consumption across the world and oil pricing at levels that can’t support further development of a lot of oil fields, they are counting on reduced overall production in the future to bring the price of oil up. This will just prolong soft oil prices. Both these countries main source of revenue is oil, and with Trump changing our energy policy to favor domestic production, I think what gives will be SA and Russia.


There is so much oil, that oil tankers are simply drifting about the oceans waiting for a buyer; consequently, the price will remain low. Once the EPA is off the backs of American fossil fuel energy producers, the price might be cheaper than a gallon of sea water.


Saudia Arabia and Russia are not the only OPEC members who need the benchmark price of crude to be to be significantly above $50 per barrel to balance their budget. These data showing the price of oil needed to balance the budgets of OPEC members are from a table that is about 1/2 way down in the article at
Algeria $96.10
Angola $110.00
Ecuador n/a
Iran $87.20
Iraq $81.00
Kuwait $49.10
Libya $269.00
Nigeria $122.70
Qatar $55.50
Saudi Arabia $105.60
UAE $72.60
Venezuela $117.50
How sad for them! Not!

Ecuador is around $50 if the government delivers a better business environment. But the only big one we know about is ITT and that’s in a very delicate jungle. Venezuela is lower than $117 for the top rated sectors like say Carabobo 1 – if the government changes. I’ve seen these charts for where the prospects for a whole country are given a single value, but each country has dozens of tiers.
I’m extremely familiar with Venezuela, and there are some spots where, if the tax regime changes to a production sharing agreement and the government isn’t run by a nutty dictator, we can turn a decent profit at $50. The problem I see is that Maduro is incredibly stupid and a very repressive ruler, mentored by Raúl Castro, and Obama (and a majority of the USA illuminati) think Raúl Castro is a nice old man and deserves USA help. Big mistake. Might as well write off Venezuela if Trump doesn’t deal with Raúl Castro to get Maduro out of the picture.


What “gives” is easiest to predict. The follow up “takes” is more interesting scenario … how does Russia react when it needs to quickly adjust its economic model, & which direction does SA go when the disposable income is cut by 80%.

“The Malthusian record of failed predictions is perfect. Every single Malthusian prediction in recorded history has turned out to be wrong…” Despite that, the world is full of true believers.


People believe what they want to believe.
Also, people tend to believe that whatever their environment is, must be universal.
Thus people who live in crowded cities find it easy to believe that the entire world is over crowded.
Mere data can’t over come the view out their window, despite the fact that the percentage of the world being viewed out their window is microscopically minuscule.


You are so right about this. Even my fairly conservative friends (ie those not normally inclined to catastrophic doomsdaying) living in big cities complain about overcrowding. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it. Having just driven across the country, from northern Idaho to Virginia, I can tell you, we’re not overcrowded one teensie little bit!

Clyde Spencer

The interior is not crowded because 91% of the people live in big cities, mostly along the coasts, It would be a much different story if everyone were distributed uniformly. Even so, except for public lands in the west, there are few places one can hunt or hike on without trespassing. Also, if people were to migrate out of the cities, there would less agricultural land to feed everyone if homes were built on flat land. Your urban friends are viewing the future out their windows.


but are we past peak stupid yet?


Clyde, nobody has suggested moving people out of cities.
The point was that people’s personal environments impact their view of the world as a whole.


That is absolutely correct Mark. Well said.


Eschatology reveals more about human foibles than it does about the future.
Doomsday predictions have two things in common: they have a track record of being perfectly wrong, and they have an ability to gather believers.
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” – Niels Bohr


Five posts to the “abiotic” troll. Might be a new record. All these rather impermiable organic shales producing oil after fracking are actually proof of the biotic origins of the hydrocarbons we produce. The hydrocarbons did not frack their way into those shales, they were deposited with them.
I don’t know what “too much oil” would be, but geologic time is a powerful fact. Slow sedimentation coupled with a high level of biologic activity can result in a layer of rock with one heck of a lot of oil in it when you have millions of years to work with.

On the other hand if you fiddle like Gold you can get a gig in Sweden drilling shield and metamorphics. I could use an idea for a gig looking for oil in Truk lagoon. It’s wonderful diving.

Bruce Cobb

Hark, what’s that sound? It’s the sound of greenie heads exploding. It’s like a symphony.


It smells like victory.


Just imagine how green the world would be with all that plant food.

Thomas Homer

Now that we have hope the EPA will revisit their notion of “Carbon pollution”, will they also publically acknowledge that CO2 is the base of the food chain, and the singular point of failure in the Carbon cycle of life?
Extracting as much efficiency as possible from fossil fuels is a worthy goal, but what’s the reason for weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels if CO2 is considered necessary for life?

“Carbon pollution”
fossil fuel burning releases tons of water in addition to carbon dioxide, and water is a powerful GHG. So why do we not hear about “Hydrogen Pollution”?


What, you’ve never heard of the Petition to Ban Di-Hydrogen Monoxide? 🙂

george e. smith

No; it’s actually Hydrogen Hydroxide ! or may be it’s Hydroxyl acid.
What the hell do I know ?

We already seem to be heading towards an optimum concentration, say 500 ppm. That amount of co2 won’t get down below 300 ppm for a while. And we do need to save coal to help us deal with future ice ages.


How will coal save us from an ice age? Are we going to spread it on top of the ice?

Evidently we can burn coal to increase CO2 content. Other options would be to raise huge amounts of cattle so they can raise methane concentration in the atmosphere. But I’m hoping we can come up with better molecules in the future.

One of the United States’ greatest untapped resources is the highway system in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and other lightly populated and lightly developed states. Driving through these places, one is impressed by the vast and beautiful wilderness that fills most of the nation. Alternatively one could take a window seat on a transcontinental flight and enjoy the view instead of watching a movie.

Clyde Spencer

Except scenic expanses are being polluted with windmills on the horizons.

Clyde Spencer

Well, windmills do have the advantage that they can be seen at greater distances than tumbleweeds!


Where I work north of Amarillo they can be seen over 25 miles away – northwest of Vega.

Chad Irby

What’s even more interesting is that there are a lot of well-proved reserves that we previously tapped and abandoned, that are perfect candidates for re-drilling and extracting with new technologies.
I know for a fact that there are a lot of big oil reserves under east Texas that were never touched because they only used conventional drilling at the time. My father used to sell oil rig drill bits in that area, and he used to show me all of the deposits that everyone knew were there, but were “impossible” to extract because of the geology. He actually talked about horizontal drilling, which wasn’t popular at the time because it was harder to control.
There’s also a lot of old abandoned oil wells that would probably be good producers if you could just drop a fracking package down the hole to open things back up. Unfortunately, due to some silly regulations, it’s illegal to reopen old wells…


A lot if not all old wells have had the straw in the ground filled with concrete. Be much easier to drill ten feet or less away to get to the same destination.


That’s not legal, unless they’ve changed the rules recently. Supposedly, once a well has been capped, you can’t open it back up. Tax laws, too (writing off as a loss because it no longer produced enough takes it out of consideration, I think).

An abandoned well can be reentered. I’ve done it. Regulations change from country to country, and state to state. The problem we face is the junk they leave in, or drop down the well when they think nobody is getting back in there. When I’ve looked at re-entry I’ve found the junk and cement make it too much of a gamble. But we can drill a new well nearby knowing exactly what we will find, so it can be easy. Or it can be much harder if the old well dropped pressures so low we have trouble getting through the low pressure zone. I wouldn’t put much into the volumes to be produced from old abandoned wells. It’s peanuts.


Cornucopians tend to forget the concentration of the ores and the extremes we have to go now to get what we need, As the low hanging fruit has been already collected we have to go higher and with a greater expense to pick what is left.
There was a time when all we had to do was to make a hole in the ground and oil would simply come out in great amounts due to its own pressure. Nowadays we have to break the rocks to get tiny streams of oil and a thousand wells are required for what was obtained from a single one. The cost and energy required to continue obtaining our resources is and will always be on the increase to a point when we won’t be able to afford it, whether there is more left or not.
When that happens we will enter a permanent state of semi-crisis and while the rich will still get everything, a growing number of people will get less and less and they will get so unsatisfied that they will start voting with their feet… Oh, wait. That is already happening.


So far, we are being rescued by technology. We are doing a lot more and using less material. Consider the amount of material needed to make an old fashioned rotary phone. Compare that with a cell phone. Technical sophistication results in more and more efficiency.

A one-quarter-ton communication satellite is now outperforming the previously used 175,000 tons of transatlantic copper cables, with this 700,000-fold reduction in system-equipment weight providing greater message-carrying capacity and transmission fidelity, as well as using vastly fewer kilowatts of operational energy. link

Sometimes the saving is dramatic.


Jevons paradox explains why any apparent saving is turned into increased consumption. We are not being saved by anything. We are just marching on towards depletion. You cannot fool physics and this is after all a finite planet.


Increased consumption means each of us has more.
Why do you consider having more to be such a bad thing.
The planet may be finite, but intelligence is infinite. Intelligence allows us to find ways to do the same with less, or to use something else for the same purpose.
As I wrote above, nothing is really thrown away, it just goes into storage till we need it again.

MARKW says: “Increased consumption means each of us has more.”
That is not true. If the population of the planet doubles, and total consumption increases by 10%, each of us has less.


Why do you consider having more to be such a bad thing.

Being in a party with free punch is great. But sooner or later the party is over.

The planet may be finite, but intelligence is infinite.

You are getting this quote backwards. Einstein said:
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”


Henry, true, but not responsive to the point that Javier made.
IE, cheaper prices results in people just consuming more.


Javier, why do you work so hard to defend the disproven belief that things are getting worse?
I wasn’t referencing the Einstein quote. My point about human intelligence constantly finding better ways to do old things still stands.
From your attempts to evade rather than deal with that fact, I can only conclude that you agree with me.


That’s an opinion based on shaky assumptions. A look at the evolution of capital expenditures by oil companies over the last 25 years indicates that we might already be in trouble.comment image


The graph is of “Listed Oil Majors”… It’s just the publicly traded major integrated oil companies like Shell, ExxonMobil, etc. It excludes about 85% of oil producers.

you won’t think that oil is getting more expensive only for IOCs, do you? It is not only the majors that are getting in trouble. Venezuela, Nigeria and Libya are having very serious troubles, but even Saudi Arabia has started selling huge amounts of bonds. 17.5 billions just last month. This is all an indication of business as usual, right?


Javier, there you go with that one dimensional thinking again.
There are many, many reasons behind why oil companies decide to make capital investments.
Your belief that it MUST be because they know we are running out of oil is cute, but unsupported by anything in this world.


Javier: Sheesh, study a little for once. You have a habit of taking any fact that might support your position and then torture it until it does.
Venezuela is in trouble because their communist government is corrupt and incompetant.
Libya is having trouble because their society is falling apart.
Saudia Arabia is having troubles because current oil prices do not support their domestinc spending budget.

Javier is right, MarkW is wrong. We as an industry need more $ to get a given amount of oil extracted. I won’t get into the details, this is a climate blog. Anybody who thinks we don’t face a long term trend of increasing input costs just doesn’t understand the industry. However, they are in good company, the bean counters at Morgan Stanley had “predicted” $25 per barrel. And I remember when the turkeys at The Economist wrote in 1996 that we faced $6 oil forever.

Clyde Spencer

Mark W,
I’m going to play Devil’ Advocate here. There is good reason to believe that human intelligence will always save us because we have such a good track record. However, that isn’t proof. It is at least a possibility that our vaunted intelligence will fail us at some point in the future, or even if we know how to solve a particularly difficult problem, we may fail because of time constraints. Therefore, I’d suggest a little humility and at least entertain the idea that we are fallible. We should be looking forward and try to anticipate problems before they become a serious threat. Many people discount Hubbert’s Peak Oil theory. However, I think it at least gives us a guide to know what path we have to follow in the future. If we act like Pollyannas, and only live for the moment with the expectation that we will always be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat when needed, we may be very sorely disappointed in the future.

Richard G

Increasing Capex for oil production is no more indicative of running out of oil than increasing Capex for automobile production is indicative of running out of automobiles. I do wish that increasing Capex required to elect politicians would be indicative of running out of politicians.

Javier, this is why it is a worldwide imperative that ALL govts must transition, sooner rather than later, from centralized command-and-control mode — where totalitarian govts see themselves as paramount — to ones of individual freedom where the protection of those freedoms, fairly and equally for all citizens, is the top responsibility of that govt.
Alas, worldwide, so few people, relatively speaking, comprehend, appreciate and desire this govt construct; however, most govts, especially the dictatorships, want to keep it this way. [read: global warming scam … which is the hoax of the century … used as a tool to keep people “under control”.]
Such has been the history of mankind, and, such will lead to our destruction unless we, as a global society, whether as individual nations, begin to transition much more proactively toward the welcoming of the universal freedom of the individual.
To wit:
[a] it has been the totalitarian state — put any label on it that you may want: socialist, marxist, communist, etc — which have, and continue to be, responsible for, by far, the most destructive environmental practices and results. there are so many examples of this … and one can begin in the Paleolithic [and probably before].
[b] it is the societies of free people — where their freedoms are protected by the govts, by LAW as constructed by the citizens — where such societies have flourished and environmental concerns have been largely addressed. [read: mostly western-type societies … although, of course, far from perfect.]
There is a simple and basic reason for this: totalitarian govts — through lies, deceptions, mandates, brute force, etc — are motivated by holding their positions of power by ANY means necessary; on the other hand, free people, who are able to pursue their dreams, are motivated primarily by building their families and their communities and, as a rule, do not “soil their own nests”. [Happy people tend not to f**k with others.]
Further, oppressed peoples, third world peoples and etc are more concerned about living day-to-day … where environmental concerns are not front-burner issues [if they are issues at all].
There are no guarantees regarding the future of humanity and nature in our forward path, but, I have yet to hear a “reasonable” argument as to why any such totalitarian govt will not result in the same outcome — where “we will enter a permanent state of semi-crisis and while the rich will still get everything” — should we continue down the totalitarian path to any degree whatsoever. [We are all familiar with the adage: the definition of insanity is repeating the same things … and you know the rest.]
In the meantime, I and many others, are of the belief that with FREE PEOPLE the world may not find perfection, but, more than likely we will find “excellence” and we will find the “right way” and we will survive, and, perhaps thrive. [Note: we are NOT seeking “perfection”.]
How do I know? Ask our grandparents, their grandparents … ad nauseum. I am sure that they faced challenges, if not similar than much more difficult than ours … and they did okay … as we are the living proof of their acceptance of those challenges and their persistence in life’s struggle.
[Note: we can solve the man-made environmental problems very simply: total human suicide. Any takers? Otherwise, we have challenges to meet and work to do, and then, yes, we will die and most likley our offspring will carry on.]

Leonard Lane

Johnny Cuyana, thank you so much for a clear and concise comment on the cruel failure of totalitarianism and the bright hope of freedom. Far too many people lack freedom, and the solution to their suffering is freedom. Proof: Totalitarianism (Kings, Communists, Socialists, leftists of all kinds, etc.; anyone willing to enslave you for their own benefit) always produce death, suffering of all kind, and a poor life or the majority of their people. On the other hand, freedom brings health, wealth, and happiness to more people than any other system.
Thanks again for your insightful comments that show your love for your fellow man.

the world may not find perfection
perfection is the enemy of good.
the cost of perfection is infinite. so for example, if the EPA was to require 0.00000% pollution from all human activity, all human activity would be illegal.
however, if you require 0.01% pollution of less, this can be achieved at reasonable cost and the health effects will be minimal. The problem comes about because there is a bureaucratic tendency to “improve” upon good. So what starts out as 0.01% get changed to 0.001%, then 0.0001%, and ultimately to 0.00000% and what started as a good idea ends up as a nightmare of runaway costs chasing unobtainable goals.


Eventually the sun is going to run out of hydrogen as well.
Just because something is going to happen doesn’t mean that it is going to happen any time soon.


Yes, but we have gone from 2 billion to 7.4 billion in just 85 years tremendously increasing our resources consumption. In the same time we went from finding the giant oil fields of Arabia to crack the rocks to obtain oil. Somehow I don’t think we have eons to continue this game.


Nobody said we can continue this for eons. We have enough for 100 years or more. At the rate technology is advancing, I have no doubt that future technology will extend that time frame tremendously.
Beyond that, future technology that we can’t even imagine today may make oil obsolete long before it runs out.
This is a problem for our great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren to worry about.


PS: EVen the UN thinks the population is going to peak by 2050 at around 10 billion.
In reality the peak will be sooner and the max population lower.
Given current trends, the population should peak in the next 15 to 20 years with a max population between 8 and 8.5 billion.


MarkW November 16, 2016 at 9:52 am
… Beyond that, future technology that we can’t even imagine today may make oil obsolete long before it runs out.

Exactly so. The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. 🙂


The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.

We are using a lot more stone per capita than during the stone age, and a lot more wood, and a lot more iron than during the iron age. So I guess that is not a good example.
We are using a lot less whale oil than one century and a half ago, and we almost exterminated whales. We would have exterminated them if we hadn’t stopped using it. And when the oil age ends, most of the oil will have been burnt, so our descendants will use a lot less oil per capita. There won’t be much oil but there will be plenty of stones. Perhaps a new stone age will be in order.

Paul Penrose

You are consuming too many bits – there is a finite supply of them you know. So to conserve bits, you should stop posting.

Mike the Morlock

commieBob November 16, 2016 at 10:32 am
“Exactly so. The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. :-)Exactly so. The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. :-)”
I will agree it is a cute come back but a bit short sighted and may not be applicable in regards to oil. We have some wiggle room before a lack of new oil recourse starts taking effect but not forever. Next while we are all thrilled with the rate of tech advances, historically the human race has a habit of hitting a plateau and staying, stuck there from anywheres from a hundred to a thousand years.
Lets take our last great power, energy, do anything resource. The horse.
We relied on this sturdy beast for almost all of our power needs in one way or another. We refined and adapted our ways of employing good old “Mr Ed” over a span of six thousand years.
To replace the horse we needed several new techs developed at the same time. The ability to use AC and DC current reliably and the ability to forge steel and other alloys on a industrial scale.
The cascade of thinking and experimentation could have occurred at an time in the last five to six thousand years. There were individuals in the past who if they had made the mental connections could have then preformed the same early experiments that lead to the industrial revolution. The physical tools were there, and most of the great minds of the past used the scientific method though it wad not yet defined. Think Archimedes.
The human spark in the mind, took over five thousand years, we don’t know for sure if we are at a plateau as with the horse, just making refinements to existing technologies, or on the cusp of a new and radical leap in human knowledge and creativity.
Anyway we have enough alternative energy sources to keep us going, but we would have to do some adapting to how we do things, (Physically move people goods, methods and locations of production.) but not much in so far as what we do.


Javier November 16, 2016 at 11:03 am
We are using a lot more stone per capita than during the stone age, and a lot more wood, and a lot more iron than during the iron age. So I guess that is not a good example.

Consider the houses of our ancestors. A decent log house uses much more wood than a modern stick-built house. A decent stone house uses a whole pile of stone. How about an old iron cook stove, holy Moses they were heavy.
Have you ever had to split wood to heat a two hundred year old stone farmhouse?

Dematerialization is everywhere and Buckminster Fuller’s idea of Ephemeralization is now so wide spread that only the ideological blind cannot see it. link

Mike the Morlock

Oh forgive spelling, the letters on my keyboard are gone on a lot of the keys the r t and i now all look the same and at a glance …

Mike the Morlock

commieBob November 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm
Javier is totally one hundred and ten percent right. To paraphrase : What, DO YOU THINK WOOD GROWS ON TREES!
(someone had to say it)
michael 😀


Javier, as usual, your example does not support your point.
We stopped using whale oil because we found something better. Had we not found oil, the whales would be extinct by now.


Mike, the rate of advancement is increasing every year.
Yes, with we stayed with the horse for years, but during that time, we were improving.
Bareback to saddles. Horse collars, improved horse collars.
The wooden horse shoe, the metal horse shoe.
Eventually horse breeding to create a better horse.
5000 years ago, there may have been one or two people who qualified as “scientists” alive at any given time. So of course progress was slow.
As society got wealthier, we were able to free up more people to become scientists.
Something like 90% of all scientists who have ever lived, are living today, and that ratio is going to continue for the foreseeable future.

Mike the Morlock

MarkW November 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm
“Something like 90% of all scientists who have ever lived, are living today,” Depends what you call scientists.
You can say the same thing about teachers politicians and priests.
And you’re pointing out all the refinements in regards to the horse is true, but you missed the point they kept making the refinements because it was all they had.
Yes we have a lot of what appears to be new stuff. But how much of it is just piling the same blocks just a different way.
The biggest deal breaker that I see is the 3D printer, can it become the anything box?
But we are going to have to find the next step in the use, creation and control of energy/power/force.
and I fear we are not even at the stage that we are imagining it. We are just making stirrups and horse collars. Yup we may be in one of those ruts. This is a concern some of those 90% of living scientists have pointed out.
But note, even if we are in one of those droughts we have centuries of playing with the adaption to existing knowledge, I just want to get there sooner.


Depends on how you look at it.
Each refinement improved the lot of the people who worked with horses.
Steam couldn’t develop until steel reached sufficient purity and strength as well as other developments. All of the necessary components were continually improving over time.
Even while people were still plowing with horses, first wind and then water powered mills were making products cheaper and better.
There was continuous improvement all during that time period. Then one day, there was enough accumulated improvement that people were able to use them to make a radically new invention. The steam engine. Then the steam engine began it’s slow process of improvement. Lighter, more powerful, etc.
If you want to fixate on one thing, IE the horse, yes we did use only the horse for a long time, but that is not evidence that society was stagnant, it was just that for a long time the horse was superior to all alternatives.
But there was continual improvement all the time, and as society became wealthier there was more money for people who did not have to spend all their waking hours worrying about where their next meal was coming from.
That’s the point about the scientists. Wealth makes science possible. More wealth will always equal more science. Some of it, like Women’s studies, will be wasted science.
To finish, your notion of plateauing is a result of fixating on a single thing and not noticing all of the improvements that are going on around it.
And as I pointed out, even though we were still using the horse, over time, we were able to get more work out of each horse.
Fixating on the horse, is like saying that since today’s vehicles and the Model T’s are both cars, that we have plateaued and there has been no improvement.

We don’t have enough for 100 years at say 100 million barrels of oil per day. And please don’t give me the baloney about ethane and propane being oil. I don’t want to have to give a basic course on oil molecules and refining.


Yes we do.

From the 2007 Simpsons movie :
“And if we kept our thermostats at 68 in winter…
We’d be free from our dependency on foreign oil in 17 years.”
Looks like it might happen even sooner.

Is this proper phrasing/attribution?
“The U.S. Geological Survey has MADE its largest DISCOVERY of recoverable crude ever under parts of West Texas, the federal agency announced Tuesday …”
Should this not be written, much more properly, thusly:
“The U.S. Geological Survey has RELEASED its ASSESSMENT of the largest PRIVATE INDUSTRY discovery of recoverable crude ever under parts of West Texas, the federal agency announced Tuesday …”
Q: Does the USGS — or any federal or state govt agency, for that matter — have any of its own wellbores, whether fully funded internally w/ taxpayer dollars or in partnership with industry players, by which it arrived at this “discovery”? Otherwise, for what reason does the USGS make this announcement of this “discovery” in this manner … with the clear implication that it is THEIR discovery?
I can think of a few reasons for which they did this … none of them flattering.

Abiotic oil? A for real paper, or BS?
Col. L. Fletcher Prouty on the Origin of “fossil” fuel.

For some other perspectives on this, I invite you to read The Petroelum Age has Just Begun, here:

Tom Tally

Great article Tom….

Warren Latham

Thank you David for a most enlightening article: much appreciated.
“Past history shows us …”. The first word is NOT necessary.
Thanks and Regards,

Don B

“The U.S. Geological Survey has made its largest discovery of recoverable crude ever under parts of West Texas, the federal agency announced Tuesday.”
Er, no. The USGS did not discovery any oil. That was discovered by the industries’ hard working employees utilizing developing technology. The USGS people just counted the barrels.


Count the money


It’s all a question of cost of recovery. Oil at $200/barrel has no value to a society. Antarctica has a lot of coal, don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be mined….

Mike the Morlock

The timing of course is interesting, it pretty much short stops any donkey baying, about us running out of oil, as an excuse to not stop funding “renewables” prior to Jan.20th.
Also the screeching, mouth foaming and teeth gashing with be so soothing and relaxing to watch.
Ah and some appropriate “mood music” as we con-soul with the anguish the poor CAGW mob must be sinking into at this very minute.
Beautiful Dreamer.



There is plenty oil, there’s no doubt about that, and plenty more to find. Which is why the left works so hard to stop it.

There isn’t that much oil. One issue that hasn’t been touched on is that “shales” produce at semi commercial volumes only if the oil is light, gassy, has very low viscosity, etc. This means we are producing a lot of very light oil which has more of the small molecules we use for chemicals, and aren’t nearly as good as say West Texas Intermediate.
I’m hardly a left winger, I’m more of a libertarian/Pat Buchanan type. And I just don’t see the rationale for that razzmatazz we get from neocons (I started voting GOP with Nixon, so I consider most of you youngsters who embraced the Bush-Fox News-Bill Kristol line neo-conservatives who have a long ways to go). The left, as far as I can see, peddles the idea that fossil fuel resources are nearly infinite. This they use to craft the idea that emissions will increase at a fast pace, which in turn gives him the ability to write thousands of crazy papers “showing” that global warming will bake the planet. It’s baloney, but some of you work very hard to fall in their trap. It would be funny if it wasn’t costing us so much.

again just a layman here and before i read any comments i want to point out reality, the earth makes oil 24/7……..oil does NOT come from fossils.

As for how long our lead and mercury will last: After 1971, we started recycling automotive batteries and that will make our lead supplies last longer. And starting sometime in the 1990s, 4-foot fluorescent lamps – the size that most fluorescent lamps are made in – were made with 1/8 as much mercury as they did in 1980 and before.


The eco lunatics aren’t going to like this, great news

Resources are infinite, because human ingenuity is: “The Ultimate Resource 2”, a book I highly recommend, by economist interested in population numbers, resources & the environment, Julian Simon, who won a 10 year bet against Paul Ehrlich & his sidekick John Holdren.
John Doran.

Peak oil Indefinitely Postponed is a misleading statement based on this announcement. America uses 19 million barrels of crude oil per day. This find provides enough new oil for 1,053 days or 2.9 years (rounded ^.)

John F. Hultquist

Indefinite does not mean not-going-to-happen. It means “uncertain.” My doctor looked at me earlier this week and claims my death is indefinitely postponed. My response was, I was thinking of buying a young African Grey Parrot. Not a good idea he said, you are going to die, we just don’t know when.

John F. Hultquist

My favorite:
Peak Copper at Wikipedia
Concern about the copper supply is not new. In 1924, noted geologist and copper-mining expert Ira Joralemon warned:
“… the age of electricity and of copper will be short. At the intense rate of production that must come, the copper supply of the world will last hardly a score of years. … Our civilization based on electrical power will dwindle and die.”[3]

some here need to consider this reality……ONE person stood alone against the accepted science on stomach ulcers……he was mocked but in the end he was CORRECT and the rest were WRONG.

Clyde Spencer

I’ll put it more succinctly than David. Sparse, simple hydrocarbons are not the same thing as crude oil!

Stewart Pid

Bill Taylor – why don’t you go and get a geology degree and then spend 30 or 40 years in the oil industry and then come back and discuss the provenance of oil deposits with us! I can’t believe someone so ignorant can be so pigheaded. Bill did you ever take a science course at school?
As one of my old bosses used to joke you are someone “who couldn’t find oil at Walmart”.

stewart TY for the personal insult……nothing could be gained by further discussion with you……the FACT remains abiotic hydrocarbons are plentiful elsewhere in our own solar system which to a thinking person means they indeed can and do form without life involved.

Conodo Mose

Correction: “Oil shale (Green River Formation) and tar sands (Athabasca oil sands) are unconventional oils because they are bituminous kerogen – essentially incompletely formed crude oil”.
You are correct to say the Green River Formation is kerogen, an unformed or incompletely formed oil but the Athabasca tar sands are not kerogen. The oil in the Athabasca sands is completely formed oil that has since become a degraded oil, or tar, with the tar a remnant from oil once formed beneath a wide swathe and considerable thickness of oil source rock of the Rocky Mountain Front, near Calgary, Alberta which has migrated eastward to a location where due to its viscosity it has “frozen” in place by process of degrading. It has been degraded by loss of volatile components and by water washing of soluble components by near surface aquifers. The original oil formed has been estimated to be immensely larger in volume that the volume of tar in the tar sands that remains as estimated today, an amazing statement as to the efficiency of the thermogenesis of the kerogen, the time required to accomplish this feat, and the original volume of the original organic matter in rock beneath the Rocky Mountain Front to form such gigantic quantities of oil. The processing of the tar sands to form marketable oil is also less costly than to make oil from the kerogen of the Green River Formation, with three major differences in cost, according to an early plan, being a need to mine the kerogen shale and transport it to a process plant and then heat the kerogen to thermogenically “crack” or convert the kerogen into oil that requires a considerable more cost of the high temperature needed to accomplish this task and then dispose of the “spent” shale. In-situ thermogenesis processing of the kerogen has been considered.

William Astley

There will likely be no peak oil and there certainly will be no peak ‘natural’ gas.
Fracking helps in the recovery and will certainly delay ‘peak oil’.
To determine how much hydrocarbon reservoirs there are and where to look for the new reservoirs however requires answering the following deeper questions:
1) What is the source of ‘natural’ gas and liquid petroleum?
2) Question 2 is directly related to question 1. Where to look for more hydrocarbons (why are there now massive natural gas reservoirs being found in super deep locations (20,000 feet)? and how much is ultimately recoverable?
We are not going to run out of non-oxidized hydrocarbons to burn, as the source of most of the hydrocarbons in the crust and the reason why 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, is that liquid super high pressure CH4 is extruded from the earth’s liquid core as the liquid core solidifies.
It is astonishing how long zombie theories persist.
The trick to solving pure science problems is to look for paradoxes and anomalies, which is a sign that are multiple fundamental errors in the base theory. There is typically an old half formed competing theory which no one looks at which is at least on the correct page, that provides a guide to find the anomalies and paradoxes.
The paradoxes and anomalies are not included in text books which explains why most of the specialists are ignorant concerning the paradoxes and anomalies and have hence never looked at a competing theory.
There is a physical explanation for everything that has or will happen. Incorrect theories generate paradoxes and anomalies. There are now more than a 100 paradoxes and anomalies associated with the formation of ‘natural’ gas and liquid petroleum. (I found a dozen or so in the 1979 API publication of papers “What is the Origin of Crude Oil?)
A few of the hundred or so, basic paradoxes and anomalies concerning the formation of ‘natural’ gas and liquid petroleum:
1. Why is there helium in natural gas and liquid petroleum reservoirs? (William: The helium problem is a paradox, not an anomaly for the fossil theory of the origin of natural gas and liquid petroleum.)
2. Why are there super large deposits of ‘natural’ gas and liquid petroleum?
For example Qatar: Wikipedia

natural gas in Qatar covers a large portion of the world supply of natural gas. According to Oil & Gas Journal, as of January 1, 2011, reserves of natural gas in Qatar were measured at approximately 896 trillion cubic feet (25.4 trillion cubic metres); this measurement means that the state contains 14% of all known natural-gas reserves, as the world’s third-largest reserves, behind Russia and Iran.[citation needed] The majority of Qatar’s natural gas is located in the massive offshore North Field, which spans an area roughly equivalent to Qatar itself.

3. Why is there evidence of some oil and natural gas fields refilling?
4. Why are there 1000s and 1000s of methane seeps on the ocean floor?
5. Why is there such a large variance of C13 in ‘natural’ gas reservoirs?
6. Why is the upper ocean saturated with CH4?
7. Why are there super deep deposits of natural gas (20,000 feet). This explains why the Russian have developed super deep drilling techniques.
P.S. The standard theory for the origin of oil and natural gas in Russia and the Ukraine (The old Soviet Union) is the deep earth theory. The Ukraine institute of science alleged Thomas Gold of plagiarism, as there are more than 1000 Soviet era papers supporting the abiogenic origin of oil and natural gas, that were published prior to the Gold’s first paper.

1. [to the question: “Are there key Soviet papers and Soviet ideas Prof. Gold fails to cite ?] by Vladilen A. Krayushkin,
Yes, there are many Soviet papers, articles, books and ideas of key significance dealing with the subject of the deep petroleum (i.e., oil and gas) theory which Prof. Gold fails to cite correctly or adequately.
It should be recognized that Gold’s priority [related to the subject of the modern Soviet theory of abiotic petroleum origins] must be set at 1979 when he published his article: Gold, T, 1979, Terrestrial sources of carbon and earthquake outgassing, J. Petrol. Geol., Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 3-19.
Concerning this article, one must pay particular attention to the following fact: The references given in that article do not contain even one of the works of any of the Soviet scientists. The well-known key leaders of the problem of abiogenic petroleum origins had already published their ideas and theory on that subject in many books and articles, beginning in the year 1951. The quantity of such publications exceeds a thousand, and for short I shall limit myself with the list of several key sources following below:

More anomalies and paradoxes from Thomas Gold’s book.

(8) Petroleum and methane are found frequently in geographic patterns of long lines or arcs, which are related more to deep-seated large-scale structural features of the crust, than to the smaller scale patchwork of the sedimentary deposits.
(9) Hydrocarbon-rich areas tend to be hydrocarbon-rich at many different levels, corresponding to quite different geological epochs, and extending down to the crystalline basement that underlies the sediment. An invasion of an area by hydrocarbon fluids from below could better account for this than the chance of successive deposition.
(10) Some petroleum from deeper and hotter levels almost completely lack the biological evidence. Optical activity and the odd-even carbon number effect are sometimes totally absent, and it would be difficult to suppose that such a thorough destruction of the biological molecules had occurred as would be required to account for this, yet leaving the bulk substance quite similar to other crude oils.
(11) Methane is found in many locations where a biogenic origin is improbable or where biological deposits seem inadequate: in great ocean rifts in the absence of any substantial sediments; in fissures in igneous and metamorphic rocks, even at great depth; in active volcanic regions, even where there is a minimum of sediments; and there are massive amounts of methane hydrates (methane-water ice combinations) in permafrost and ocean deposits, where it is doubtful that an adequate quantity and distribution of biological source material is present.
(12) The hydrocarbon deposits of a large area often show common chemical or isotopic features, quite independent of the varied composition or the geological ages of the formations in which they are found. Such chemical signatures may be seen in the abundance ratios of some minor constituents such as traces of certain metals that are carried in petroleum; or a common tendency may be seen in the ratio of isotopes of some elements, or in the abundance ratio of some of the different molecules that make up petroleum. Thus a chemical analysis of a sample of petroleum could often allow the general area of its origin to be identified, even though quite different formations in that area may be producing petroleum. For example a crude oil from anywhere in the Middle East can be distinguished from an oil originating in any part of South America, or from the oils of West Africa; almost any of the oils from California can be distinguished from that of other regions by the carbon isotope ratio.
MIDDLE EAST GEOLOGY Why the Middle East fields may produce oil forever

Recent measurements in a major oil field show “that the fluids were changing over time; that very light oil and gas were being injected from below, even as the producing [oil pumping] was going on,” said chemical oceanographer Mahlon “Chuck” Kennicutt. “They are refilling as we speak. But whether this is a worldwide phenomenon, we don’t know.”
Also not known, Kennicutt said, is whether the injection of new oil from deeper strata is of any economic significance, whether there will be enough to be exploitable. The discovery was unexpected, and it is still “somewhat controversial” within the oil industry.
Kennicutt, a faculty member at Texas A&M University, said it is now clear that gas and oil are coming into the known reservoirs very rapidly in terms of geologic time. The inflow of new gas, and some oil, has been detectable in as little as three to 10 years. In the past, it was not suspected that oil fields can refill because it was assumed the oil formed in place, or nearby, rather than far below.
The first sketchy evidence of this emerged in 1984, when Kennicutt and colleagues from Texas A&M University were in the Gulf of Mexico trying to understand a phenomenon called “seeps,” areas on the seafloor where sometimes large amounts of oil and gas escape through natural fissures.
“Our first discovery was with trawls. We knew it was an area of massive seepage, and we expected that the oil seeps would poison everything around” the site. But they found just the opposite.
“On the first trawl, we brought up over two tons of stuff. We had a tough time getting the nets back on board because they were so full” of very odd-looking sea.floor creatures, Kennicutt said. “They were long strawlike things that turned out to be tube worms.
“The clams were the first thing I noticed,” he added. “They were pretty big, like the size of your hand, and it was obvious they had red blood inside, which is unusual. And these long tubes — 3, 4 and 5 feet long — we didn’t know what they were, but they started bleeding red fluid, too. We didn’t know what to make of it.”
The biologists they consulted did know what to make of it. “The experts immediately recognized them as chemo-synthetic communities,” creatures that get their energy from hydrocarbons — oil and gas — rather than from ordinary foods. So these animals are very much like, but still different from, recently discovered creatures living near very hot seafloor vent sites in the Pacific, Atlantic and other oceans.
The difference, Kennicutt said, is that the animals living around cold seeps live on methane and oil, while the creatures growing near hot water vents exploit sulfur compounds in the hot water.
The discovery of abundant life where scientists expected a deserted seafloor also suggested that the seeps are a long-duration phenomenon. Indeed, the clams are thought to be about 100 years old, and the tube worms may live as long as 600 years, or more, Kennicutt said.

CH4 is constantly released from the earth at specific plate boundaries in the ocean. The deep earth released CH4 is the primary source of CO2 in the atmosphere, not volcanic eruptions. In the upper atmosphere, ultra violet light breaks the CH4 bond and CO2 and H2O forms from the disassociated CH4.
The super high pressure liquid CH4 that is extruded from the liquid core is the force that drives tectonic plate movement and is the cause of mountain formation on the earth.
There are also roughly 50 paradoxes associated with trying to explain the formation of mountains and trying to explain what moves the tectonic plates.
The liquid core started to solidify roughly a billion years ago, which correlates with the sudden explosion of new life on the planet as the continents started to rise above the ocean driven by the liquid CH4 and the oceans increased in volume.
At high pressures the liquid CH4 forms longer chain hydrocarbons.
The deep earth CH4 explains why there is helium gas associated with both ‘natural’ gas deposits and liquid petroleum. Heavy metals dissolve in the super high pressure liquid CH4 that moves through the crust. At specific pressures, some of the metals drop out which explains why there are concentrations of metals in the earth’s crust that are a million times concentrated.
The helium gas is formed from radioactive decay of uranium and thorium. The deep earth CH4 theory explains why there are uranium and thorium deposits below all CH4 and liquid petroleum deposits. In some locations, the super high pressure liquid CH4 and liquid hydrocarbons continues to be pushed up from the core breaking the mantel, providing a path way for the helium gas that is released from the decaying uranium and thorium to flow into the near surface CH4 and liquid petroleum deposits.
The late astrophysics Thomas Gold provides includes his 1998 published book a detailed explanation of roughly 50 observations to support the deep earth CH4 hypothesis. There are now dozens and dozens of new observations that support Gold’s deep earth CH4 hypothesis.
The following is an excerpt (another comment) from Thomas Gold’s book the “Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels’ which that outlines some of the observations which supports an abiogenic origin (non-biological, primeval origin), for petroleum and natural gas.


After the nonsense about helium, I stopped reading.
Formations that can trap natural gas can also trap helium, which is a byproduct of radioactive decay which occurs throughout the crust.


Condolences. You apparently have way more patience than I do.

William Astley

So you completely lack any ability to consider simultaneously two competing theories.
Helium of course is a gas and cannot just travel through solid rock. The amount of helium concentration in the oil and gas is hundreds of times higher than natural.
Explain the concentrations of heavy metals in the oil.


No we both get frustrated at people who keep pushing theories that have been completely discredited.


You seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that heavy metals exist everywhere, even in rock.
As the oil/gas migrates through rock that has heavy metals in them, some of those heavy metals will leach into the oil/gas.
You seem to be ignorant of the fact that if natural gas can more through rock, helium can even more easily since it’s a smaller molecule.

William Astley

And, when one drills into capped formations that have no natural gas or oil there is no helium.
It is a fact that helium is found with natural gas and oil reservoirs and that fact is one of the commercial methods that is used to find the look for oil and gas. i.e. They look for helium released in the area.


Many explanations. Not all capped formations are completely impermeable.
The area below the capped formation may be impermeable.
The fact that helium is a lot more mobile than either oil or gas is also a factor.


@William Astley
William, I really enjoyed reading your debate here with David concerning the possible origins of our “fossil Fuels”. You bring up many interesting points that deserve further thought and study and expand the conversation. It is disappointing when someone like MarkW would ‘seemingly’ rather shut down any debate and condescend to you than debate with a positive response to your points. Thank you for bringing your points to the front.


@William Astley
Ps. One thing I would like to add is that it seems to me that many oil fields are located at or near what once were old river beds leading out to seas or lakes where a great amount of sediments would have been deposited over great timespans. You mentioned that many of the oil deposits have been found at or near the continental plate boundaries. Perhaps the runoff sediments from the rivers into the seas / oceans (and past inland seas) are why this occurs.
My being a novice only inspires my interest in the subject, but, to me, it seems that if oil is organic, these river runoff areas from the continents would be the places where oil would be found. OTOH, your ideas are very interesting for consideration because there are, perhaps, many more things happening at plate boundaries from inside the Earth, beneath the mantel, than we are aware of. It sounds like the subject hasn’t been fully ‘put to rest’ yet. So, again, thanks for putting in your two cents. And to heck with the naysayers


As David has shown, William does not know what he is talking about.


I may be having a senior moment here, but I do not understand the following calculation of MPGe, the EPS’s number for gasoline equivalent energy for electric cars. It’s supposed to be “well to wheel”.
Eg = gasoline-equivalent energy content of electricity = (Tg * Tt * C) / Tp ?? equation
Tg = U.S. average fossil-fuel electricity generation efficiency = 0.328
Tt = U.S. average electricity transmission efficiency = 0.924
Tp = Petroleum refining and distribution efficiency = 0.830
C = Watt-hours of energy per gallon of gasoline conversion factor = 33,705 Wh/gal
Eg = (0.328 * 0.924 * 33705)/0.830 = 12,307 Wh/gal
PEF = Eg * 1/0.15 * AF * DPF = 12,307 Wh/gal/0.15 * AF * DPF
PEF = 82,049 Wh/gal * AF * DPF
Starting at the well it looks to me like it should be:
Tp*Tg*Tt*C=Wh/gal Each step in the process reduces the amount of energy delivered from a gallon of oil.
I can’t see why the refining efficiency is used as a divisor, increasing the Wh/gal. 12307 vs 8478 Wh/effective gallon, an increase of about 45%.
It’s also not clear whether or not the electricity used in the refinery is included.


I don’t see any factor for conversion losses from wallplug to wheel. AC to DC, electrical to chemical, chemical to electrical and finally the motor control and the motor itself.


whoops, EPA’s number

Simon Evans

Where I live, Peak Oil is very much real!

World wide peak oil was always going to be different times for different regions.


As technology improves, there can even be multiple peak oils for individual places or even fields.

staspeterson BSME, MSMa, MBA

Fusion is coming fast, Energy supplies are then infinite essentially, as is any material shortage in other raw material.

staspeterson BSME, MSMa, MBA

Isn’t it wonderful the CAGWbscam/hoax is going the way of Lysenkoism ,another left wing “Science”

I will concede, there is enough oil in the US and Canada to keep those two countries working for the foreseeable future. Peak oil has been postponed.


Nobody has ever denied that peak oil will happen someday (except for the abiotic crowd). The contention has been on the belief that it has already happened or is about to happen.

William Astley

It is of course possible to determine using chemical thermal dynamic analysis to determine whether a chemical reaction will or will not occur, at a specific temperature and pressure (see this attached peer reviewed paper for the analysis).
Plant residue will not change to liquid petroleum at the temperature and pressures where the liquid petroleum is found. The fact there is no natural reaction that will convert biological residue to liquid petroleum in the conditions where the liquid petroleum is found is show stopper number one for the biogenic hypothesis for the origin of oil.
The biogenic supporters will not discuss biogenic show stopper number 1 as there is no solution. Perhaps show stopper number 2 would be trying to explain the super, super, large middle east, Alberta, and Venezuela petroleum deposits.
As this paper notes chemical thermal dynamic analysis shows that long chain carbon molecules will not spontaneously be formed, except at great pressures (at pressures that occur at roughly 100 km below the surface of the earth.
To provide added support for their assertion they perform an experiment that produces long chain hydrocarbons from CH4 using a diamond anvil that can recreate the pressure at great depths.
The following are excerpts from this paper.

The evolution of multi-component systems at high pressures: VI. The thermodynamic stability of the hydrogen–carbon system: The genesis of hydrocarbons and the origin of petroleum, By Kenney, Kutcherov, Bendeliani, and Alekseev
The scientific problem of the genesis of hydrocarbons of natural petroleum, and consequentially of the origin of natural petroleum deposits, regrettably has been one too much neglected by competent physicists and chemists; the subject has been obscured by diverse, unscientific hypotheses, typically connected with the rococo hypothesis (1) that highly reduced hydrocarbon molecules of high chemical potentials might somehow evolve from highly oxidized biotic molecules of low chemical potential. The scientific problem of the spontaneous evolution of the hydrocarbon moleculescomprising natural petroleum is one of chemical thermodynamic-stability theory. This problem does not involve the properties of rocks where petroleum might be found or of microorganisms observed in crude oil.

Natural petroleum is a hydrogen–carbon (H–C) system, in distinctly nonequilibrium states, composed of mixtures of highly reduced hydrocarbon molecules, all of very high chemical potential and most in the liquid phase. As such, the phenomenon of the terrestrial existence of natural petroleum in the near-surface crust of the Earth has presented several challenges, most of which have remained unresolved until recently. The primary scientific problem of petroleum has been the existence and genesis of the individual hydrocarbon molecules themselves: how, and under what thermodynamic conditions, can such highly reduced molecules of high chemical potential evolve?

The expression in the second line of Eq. 2 states further that for any circumstance for which the Affinity does not vanish, there exists a generalized thermodynamic force that drives the system toward equilibrium. The constraints of this expression assure that an apple, having disconnected from its bough, does not fall, say, half way to the ground and there stop (a phenomenon not prohibited by the first law) but must continue to fall until the ground. These constraints force a chemically reactive system to evolve always toward the state of lowest thermodynamic Affinity.

These constraints force a chemically reactive system to evolve always toward the state of lowest thermodynamic Affinity. Thus, the evolution of a chemically reactive, multicomponent system may be determined at any temperature, pressure, or composition whenever the chemical potentials of its components are known. To ascertain the thermodynamic regime of the spontaneous evolution of hydrocarbons, their chemical potentials must be determined.

There are dozens of other paradoxes and anomalies with biogenic hypothesis.
See API’s collection of papers in published the book ‘Origin of Crude Oil’ in for a partial list. The solution to a reaction that will not occur is addressed in a API paper by stating the solution is ‘time’ where time is in bold and in italics.
Another anomaly discussed is the lack of biological material left on ocean floors. The ocean biological systems are highly efficient in consuming all dead biological material so there is minimal amounts of biological material deposited on the ocean floor, yet there are massive liquid petroleum deposits on the continental shelves.
The explanation as to why there are massive liquid petroleum deposits on the continental shelves is that deep source CH4 moves up with ocean floor crust and is deposited on under the continental shelves. The deep CH4 movement also explains the formation of mountains on the side of the continents and explains the crustal motion itself. The continents float on the mantel.


Sheesh, the ignorance is almost unbearable.
As has been pointed out time and again, oil can and does migrate from where it is formed to where it is found.
Beyond that the belief that the temperatures where oil is found is always too low for oil to form is completely wrong.
All of your so called paradoxes have been explained away.


I’ve got a copy of Limits to Growth. One of the most hilarious books one could ever read.

Matthew Epp

Not to poke the abiotic vs biogenic oil origin bear, but aren’t there moons around Jupiter and Saturn with oceans of liquid methane? To be of biogenic origin then life would have to exist now or in the past there, other wise an abioitic origin is the only logical conclusion. Am I missing something?

You are missing a lot. But I’m going to take my nap.

Matthew Epp

wow, this just posted. I typed it before the exhaustive discussion between Mr. Middleton and Mr. Astley. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Yes there is lots of abiotic methane in the solar system. Not on Earth given its hot rocky formation (Moon and all that). There is some newish, mostly in methane clathrate in the Framm Strait owing to unusual geological seafloor spreading circumstances there and iron catalysis. There is NO abiotic oil. Sweden was a contamination mistake. Ukraine was a gross geological,overthrust mistake, and this can be proven using C12/C13 ratios based on known photosynthesis pathway preferences.

I don’t think what they call crude oil in those figures you see are “crude oil” as we usually refer to it. The government agencies make a mess of the statistics, a lot of that “crude oil” isn’t refinery feed. When you look up figures try to find something called “crude oil and condensate” “C&C”.
That 20 billion probably includes non C&C liquids, so both the national consumption and usgs figures are inflated.

Been travelling today; Wisconsin dairy deer season opens Sat. But spent a couple of hours reading about this new USGS report before coming here. Much BS out there. Two years ago the Wolfcamp minor operators were hyping 3.5% recovery factors. (Bakken is ~1.5). Seemed credible, since some of the 4 Wolfcamp shale members have porosity as high as 4%. (Conventional oil is >5%.)
But postponing peak oil by decades?!?. Not. Fact. When Saudi Arabia finished reworking the southernmost section of Ghawar with water flood (7million barrels/day) in 2010, Aramco estimated remaining recoverable Ghawar reserves at 65Bbbl. Lasting until ~ 2035 at declining production rates. Wolfcamp hyped is 1/3 of Ghawar alone. In 2012, Ghawar provided 6% of the world’s oil.

Ya ever wonder if the Earth makes oil and natural gas like a maple tree makes sap?


Thank you David.
The reader also needs to be reminded that the USGS and IEA do not have some large drilling and testing budget for backing up these projections. They rely heavily on the private sector to produce the data in the first place and delineate the resource and the technical innovations and rate of efficiency gain to unlock the marginal resource. Any suggestion or claim of special knowledge by official agencies or expertise beyond that is patently false.

William Astley

David, Thanks for the link to the nature paper. That is the first paper that I have seen concerning the formation of crude oil from biological material, that claims partial success at creating material from biological matter at a temperature of 400C that has some similarity to crude oil.
As Gold notes there are Isomers of aromatic hydrocarbons in crude oil which have been demonstrated to have a formation temperature of between 700 and 1,100C. He also notes the biological crude origin theory has problems explaining nickel and vanadium prophyrins.
As Gold also notes the deep earth non biological origin of oil is a not new theory. It is the standard theory in the old Soviet Union and is the theory that the Russians have used to become the largest oil and natural gas producer in the world.
This is good summary of Gold’s other logical pillars if you are interested.

The discovery of oil, deep in the Baltic Shield, may be considered a decisive factor in the hundred year old debate about the biogenic or abiogenic origin of oil. This discovery was made in deep wells that were drilled in the central part of the crystalline Baltic Shield, on the initiative of T. Gold.

Can There Be Two Independent Sources of Commercial Hydrocarbon Deposits, One Derived from Biological Materials, the Other from Primordial Carbon and Hydrogen, Incorporated into the Earth at its Formation? Thomas Gold November 1996
… In any discussion of the ultimate origin of hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas) that are commercially extracted, this is a major question: are there two pathways for generating these deposits, or is there evidence that there is only one? If it can be shown that there is only one, then a proof of the derivation of any one hydrocarbon deposit would constitute a proof that this represents the derivation of all.
The two pathways that are under discussion are a derivation from biological materials deposited in the sediments, or a derivation from carbonaceous materials incorporated into the Earth at its formation. ….
The similarity of all commercial crude oils encompasses the following factors:
1.) Nickel and vanadium porphyrins are found in varying proportions, but in all petroleum deposits. Porphyrin molecules are complex molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, together with a metal atom. Their presence in petroleum has been attributed to chlorophyll from photosynthesizing plants, and to the haem of the blood of animals, and both these will indeed produce porphyrin molecules. But those would contain the metal atoms of magnesium and iron. However no single case is known of magnesium or iron porphyrins having been found in petroleum anywhere. An explanation that on every occasion in all oils the original metal atoms had been exchanged for just nickel and vanadium from the rocks in their surroundings, seems extremely improbable. No explanation has been offered how plant debris would have produced the nickel and vanadium molecules, while, in the other explanation, nickel and vanadium complexes may well be expected, since these two metals are particularly prone to make organometallic compounds. This find therefore favors a deep origin, and at the same time a common origin for all oils.
2.) The heavier hydrocarbon molecules have a large variety of isomers (molecules of the same number of hydrogen and carbon atoms, but assembled in different geometrical configurations). The distribution of isomers of aromatic hydrocarbons has been demonstrated to depend upon the temperature range of their formation. Studies of the isomers of 322 oils from various oil fields of the world, have shown that they have a common set of isomers, a set that has been demonstrated to come from a formation temperature of between 700 and 1,100 °C. There is no significant difference in this range between oils coming from different tectonic settings.
The overall hydrocarbon composition corresponds to the equilibrium state at temperatures 1,300 to 1,500 °C and pressures of 20 to 40 kb. The estimate is that this is the condition in the upper mantle at depths of 60 to 160 km. Temperatures and pressures in the sedimentary blanket are certainly far from the conditions necessary to account for the isomeric composition characteristic of all natural oils. (This information comes primarily from the publications of two chemists and thermodynamicists from the Ukraine, G.E. Boiko and E.B. Chekaliuk, over the years from 1950 to 1982. Although there is much reference to these publications in the Soviet scientific literature, and I have referred to them in my publications, I have found no other reference to these in the U.S., British, German or French literature.) This universal property of oils thus makes it extremely unlikely that two completely different modes of formation could have been responsible for such complex but similar products; at the same time the temperature range indicated is far too high for a sedimentary origin.
The depth range indicated is also that of the derivation of diamonds, whose formation required the presence of unoxidized carbon under a pressure in excess of 30 kb. Violent gas-driven eruptions from upper mantle depths were required to deliver the diamonds and other deep source materials to the surface.
3.) The common association of hydrocarbons with helium has no explanation in a biological origin theory; in a theory involving the ascent of hydrocarbons from deep levels, the physical process of sweeping up the gases in the pores of the rock, would be expected; and helium is a significant component of those. This also points to a derivation of the majority of oils from deep levels.
4.) The arguments of Robert Robinson still stand, that any biological debris would be quite unlikely to produce hydrogen-saturated hydrocarbons. The hydrogen/carbon ratio of biological materials is too low in the first place, and slow chemical processing in geologic settings would lead to a further loss of hydrogen. Yet most commercial hydrocarbon deposits contain methane and other high hydrogen components. The average hydrogen proportion is greater, the deeper the level from which the hydrocarbons are withdrawn, corresponding to a hydrogen loss during the upward migration of the fluids.
The overall conclusion is therefore that natural petroleum has detailed chemical features that are common to all, and that we must therefore consider that all derived from the same process. Moreover, most oils bear clear evidence of having had a deep origin, and a high temperature of formation.
Excerpts from the paper by P.N. Kropotkin, entitled “On the History of Science: Professor N.A. Kudryatsev (1893-1971) and the Development of the Theory of Origin of Oil and Gas”
Presented at a conference in Moscow in 1995, honoring Professor Kudryatsev’s contributions to the field. (William: See link for the presentation.)


The fossil fable violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
That’s a fact that people David Middleton and Fernado and Doug refuse to acknowledge – simply because it’s not a profitable fact.
The spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons that comprise natural petroleum have been analyzed by chemical thermodynamic-stability theory. The constraints imposed on chemical evolution by the second law of thermodynamics are briefly reviewed, and the effective prohibition of transformation, in the regime of temperatures and pressures characteristic of the near-surface crust of the Earth, of biological molecules into hydrocarbon molecules heavier than methane is recognized.
You can’t can’t convert decaying slime into petroleum without a source of energy. Petroleum has more energy than dead stuff. You can push sh*t uphill without a source of energy.
What is the balanced chemical equation that converts lipids, triglycerides, carbohydrates and proteins into hydrocarbon species?
I can tell you the equation for photosynthesis.
Why can’t fossil proponents do the same for petroleum?
Why must we have faith?
Verbage about alleged “biomarkers” and how kerogen equal biological (even though Comet Haley is 1/3 kerogen) has been debunked as many times at has been repeated. But religious people never let facts undermine the basis of their cult.
* * * *
The capital fact to note is that petroleum was born in the depths of the earth, and it is only there that we must seek its origin.
–Dmitri Ivanovitch Mendeléev, 1877
* * * *
Petroleum is a crucial feedstock for autotrophs that infest the planet from sediment to surface, from pole to pole…
“…methane is the primary food source for most microorganisms thriving in the ocean floor. ”
Methane Devourer Discovered In The Arctic, ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2006)
A chemotrophic ecosystem found beneath Antarctic Ice Shelf
“The input from natural marine oil seeps alone would be enough to cover all of the world’s oceans in a layer of oil 20 molecules thick. That the globe is not swamped with oil is testament to the efficiency and versatility of the networks of microorganisms that degrade hydrocarbons,”
-Marine microorganisms make a meal of oil (Jones DM, Röling WF, 2006)
Life comes from petroleum – not vice versa:
The biosphere is doomed when it runs out of petrol.

tony mcleod

You can’t can’t convert decaying slime into petroleum without a source of energy.
How about 20,000psi?

It’s not “decaying slime”. The trick is to bury it before it decays. Our friend forgot the planet gets hotter as we go down, pressures increase, and it’s fairly easy to turn fresh moose meat into oil, if we shred it, mix it with salt water and clay, add a pinch of Tabasco, and cook it slowly at 300 F and 15000 psi for 1 million years.


Peak Oil Indefinitely Postponed

Putting 20B barrels of oil in perspective, globally we use around 85M barrels per day and so 20B barrels represents 235 days of oil consumption. That’s not exactly cause for “Indefinitely Postponed” celebrations.


No, democracy is postponed in Venezuela. How much oil does it have under rational investment and development conditions?


What does this to do with the find of 20B barrels?
Political strife is very real and impacts oil production. You cant just wave it away unless you’re prepared to take the oil by force.
“You heard me, I would take the oil, I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.” – Donald Trump.
Is this the future of oil?


Gotta watch Venezuela. China may have it’s eyes on that little parcel of the Americas. The Monroe Doctrine still has some weight, doesn’t it?

I watch Venezuela. The outside power controlling Venezuela is Cuba. This is an inconvenient truth the USA media doesn’t care to discuss. I suppose because they don’t want to rile up Obama’s move to get friendly with Raúl Castro. I’m still trying to figure out why the GOP neocons decided to hand over 40 million into slavery in Cuba and Venezuela. Maybe they are too focused on their Arab terrorism wackamole problems and think communists are ok dudes?


The resource is in Venezuela but not tapped. That is the relevant issue for global Peak Oil theory and discussion. The same could be said of offshore oil in the Gulf of Mexico on the Mexican side of international line extending into deep water but not drilled or tested.


Indefinite does not mean permanent. A better synonym would be indeterminate.

Geoff Derrick

Geoff the Geo, Brisbane
As a sceptical geologist this post by David Middleton and the comments generated makes the heart and mind soar to stellar levels. Hydrocarbons also have a role to play in base metal generation. At the Century zinc deposit, the second largest Zn deposit in the world 250km N of Mt Isa, open pit mining since 1990 has now exhausted this amazing deposit. The mineralised shale containing fine-grained grey sphalerite (ZnFe sulphide) and some Pb and Ag is highly laminated and looks like it formed on the seafloor.
However, it actually formed at depths from 500m to a km or so below the surface, as heated basinal brines rich in chlorides and base metals migrated up fault zones into a subsurface basin containing organic-rich shales. The warm hydrothermal fluids raised rock temperatures to the ‘oil window’ and generated hydrocarbons in the shale, which then migrated out of the source area, leaving significant permeability in the buried strata sufficient for the zinc and Pb and Ag to be deposited in its place, as the oxidised ore fluid was reduced by the carbon-rich shales. The deposit so formed contained 120 million tonnes @ 10% Zn, 1.5% Pb and 36g/t Ag, and although now closed, its legacy has been enormous wealth creation, infrastructure and skills development in a remote part of northern Australia.

Michael Clayton

Technology has speeded up depletion rates but found ways to get access to 20x more of the thin layer of oil. But since 1859 we have found oil to be located in very narrow layer due to “cooking” recipe that makes sludge vs oil vs gas. Cost goes up as “conventional” oil reserves are depleted of course. Hubbert was right about conventional oil using existing technology and peak conventional production in US did peak in 1970s using known technology.
Horizontal drillng plus high pressure fracing have us another half century of moderate cost oil…say $35 per barrel at current dollar value. And unconventional oil from offshore or shales is great extender but at $60 or more. So at $150 a barrel another half century perhaps. Its all about costs vs market demand.
But as alternative energy sources become cheaper (and many are already very cheap) oil like coal may not be sought just as whale oil is no longer sought. I am only 80 and the entire oil industry so far is less than 200 years old while humans have tried to keep warm or cook food for at least 10 or 100 centuries while oil was forming for 1000 or more centuries. Sssslllooowwww.
But why should WE worry. Life is short.

Being and Time

20 billion barrels equals about 235 days of global consumption. That’s a strange definition of “indefinite.”