Whatever happened to fears over “peak oil”?

By Michael Lynch, Forbes

Very few people realize that the entire concerns about peak oil were based on misinformation or junk science.

A decade ago, the media was filled with stories about peak oil, numerous books were published on the subject (such as Half Gone and $20 a Gallon!), and even the Simpsons mentioned it in an episode about doomsday preppers.  Now, the topic is largely forgotten and the flavor of the month is peak oil demand.  Anyone concerned about the quality of research that works its way into the public debate should be curious about how so many were so wrong for so long.  (Buy my book for the full story.)

First and foremost, realize that in the 1970s, numerous analysts and institutions made similar arguments, arguing that geological scarcity was responsible for higher prices not the two disruptions of production in 1973 and 1979.  Indeed, in the months before oil prices collapsed in 1986, the consensus was that prices were too low and had to rise to make upstream investment profitable, despite the fact that OPEC production was collapsing (down from 30 mb/d in 1980 to 15 in 1985).  You would think that this would make people more skeptical about claims that geological scarcity was responsible when the shutdown of Venezuelan production and the second Gulf War cut off Iraqi supplies sent prices higher starting in 2003.

Such was not the case.  In fact, on September 21, 2004 the Wall Street Journal published a front-page story “As Prices Soar, Doomsayers Provoke Debate on Oil’s Future,” quoting the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak oil as saying “Holy Mother!  The good ol’ moment’s arrived!”  Oddly, the article didn’t mention the alternative explanation for high prices, namely the loss of production from Venezuela and Iraq, about 1 billion barrels up to the article’s publication.

The current era of peak oil warnings started twenty years ago, when Scientific American published an article by two retired geologists called “The End of Cheap Oil,” which presented the idea that world oil production would soon peak while demand kept rising, creating economic shock waves and even ‘the end of civilization’ as one co-author said subsequently.  Since the oil price collapsed to $12 a barrel that year, most paid little heed at first, but as oil prices began to rise five years later, attention soared.

Few realize the debate began a year earlier, in the pages of the Oil & Gas Journal, where members of the opposing camps put forth their views.  Colin Campbell, who later became founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (and coauthored the 1998 Scientific American article), wrote an article titled “Better Understanding Urged for Rapidly Depleting Reserves” in which he warned “there is comparatively little left to find” and “the world’s political, economic, and political stability, which relies on an abundant supply of cheap oil, is in serious jeopardy.”  His core argument was that the amount of recoverable crude oil, which he put at 1.8 trillion barrels, was smaller than most realized, because of misreporting and misinterpretation of the data.

The contrary view was put forth in the same journal in an article by M. A. Adelman and this author, noting past pessimism:  “For many years now, nearly every forecast has been: an early peak, then in 3-5 years decline in virtually every place but the Persian Gulf.”  And “The oil industry has always been in a tug-of-war between depletion and knowledge. It takes endless effort and investment to renew and expand reserves. But resource limits are a phantom….Repeatedly, the forecasts are revised with a higher and later peak….These estimates of declining reserves and production are incurably wrong because they treat as a quantity what is really a dynamic process driven by growing knowledge.”

Since then, the peak oil advocates have repeatedly increased their estimates of recoverable resources (Campbell’s went from 1.575 to 1.9 trillion) and pushed the date of the peak further out, exactly as Adelman and Lynch argued, while trying to argue that the increase in oil supply was ‘unconventional’ oil which they were not analyzing.  Of course, they tend not to mention that their 1998 article claimed “But the industry will be hard-pressed for the time and money needed to ramp up production of unconventional oil quickly enough.”  Similarly, many argue that the growth has been from NGLs or shale, not conventional oil, but the figure below refutes that.

World Petroleum Supply THE AUTHOR; DATA FROM BP AND EIA.

The general view of the issue is that shale oil saved us from peak oil, and the issue has largely disappeared from the media, to be replaced by warnings of peak oil demand, but there are still articles about peak cobalt, peak cocoa and similar scares.  Rather the way your local news station constantly reports on some new threat to the public (germs in airplane bathroom sink water, dangers from household cleaning products, etc. ad infinitum).

Unfortunately, very few people realize that the entire concerns about peak oil were based on misinformation or junk science.  Specifically, the research was not scientific at all but statistical analysis so badly done that it wouldn’t pass a first-year college course.  The work by Campbell and Laherrere relied on the basic idea that geology determined production trends, and thus trends could be safely extrapolated based on the bell curve model.  If production was declining, that is.  Economics didn’t matter because ‘you have to find oil before you can produce it’ and if it’s there, it will be produced.  Technology could not improve recovery because “Technology cannot change the geology of the reservoir, but technology (in particular horizontal drilling) can help to produce faster, but no more…”  (Jean Laherrere)

The majority of this is nonsense.  Production usually doesn’t follow a bell curve, and when it does, it is the result of the effects of exponential growth and decline.  (Many repeated the claim that geology meant oil production in a region had to follow a bell curve without actually checking the data.)  Instead, changes in oil prices, fiscal terms, and access to resource basins cause production to fluctuate all the time—and often surpass the supposed ‘peak’ level that peak oil advocates identify.

Many of the arguments reflected their authors’ ignorance of either the industry or forecasting.  Simmons claimed that hearing the Saudi oil company used ‘fuzzy logic’ to model reservoirs convinced him they had problems, since he’d never heard of it.  (It’s just a decades-old programming method.)  Joe Romm said “Steep falls in oil production means the world now needed to replace an amount of oil output equivalent to Saudi Arabia’s production every two years, Merrill Lynch said in a research report.”

Apparently, he didn’t know that Jimmy Carter, in his 1977 speech on the energy crisis, said, “…just to stay even we need the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every nine months, or a new Saudi Arabia every three years. Obviously, this cannot continue.”

Thus, the publications and predictions have by and large not come true—often rather spectacularly.  Russia was said to be unable to surpass 8 mb/d, and when they did, 9 mb/d, and when they reached 10 mb/d, a quick collapse was predicted.  Production there is over 11 mb/d and still increasing.  And a 2005 book describing the imminent collapse of Saudi production, presaging world production collapse, was not only riddled with errors but has proven wholly invalid.  The Saudis have experienced no production difficulties, indeed had to cut back to support prices; and world production has grown by about 15 mb/d since the 2005 peak prediction by that author and others.

Arguments made by knowledgeable resource economists have explained the historical pattern, such as the 1997 article by Adelman and Lynch.  The petroleum resource base is huge, at least ten times what is described by peak oil advocates, and price spikes reflect temporary supply disruptions or the removal of some of the ‘cheap’ resource from the accessible portion of supply by resource nationalism.  Peak oil advocates were following the long-standing neo-Malthusian practice of interpreting short-term problems as permanent and insoluble, just as was done in the 1970s.

Tellingly, those believing in peak oil often displayed a certainty that was totally unwarranted, given the complexity of the issue.

Full story here


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“the peak oil advocates have repeatedly increased their estimates of recoverable resources”

yep……and if you open up the places where drilling is banned…you can probably double it

I can’t recall a basin where drilling is banned and resources are even 5% of current remainin reserves. What do you have in mind?

As regards the post, Watts is wrong, in the sense that we have already found and are depleting the easy to get conventional oil, deep water is almost all drilled out, the heavy oil is included in current reserves (and it’s probably overrated), and the light oil from “shales” requires high prices, and has a limited future.

Right now, this month, we are seeing oil prices rebound nicely, but I’m not seeing a push to fill the gap created by Trumps sanctions on Iran, the Libya cuts, and Venezuela’s ongoing meltdown. OPEC nations other than Saudi Arabia lack spare capacity, and consumption has been running way above production. So for those of us in the oil business this is kind of a new situation, prices in real terms are more than double prices we saw 20 years ago, but we have limited places to drill, other than Texas, and a bit in Oklahoma, North Dakota and maybe Louisiana.

The same applies in most countries I know of. We can’t pick up rigs at prices twice-thrice as high as the prices we saw in 1998, there’s no new technology, no magic potion, no wizardry to allow us to get more oil out forever. We need much higher prices, and as we raise what we charge poor countries won’t be able to afford it. So there’s a limit. And we are approaching a time when oil production won’t rise anymore.

Kalifornia Kook

Dang, that is inconvenient! Saudi Arabia just announced today that they’re going to raise production by 2 million bpd after discussions with Trump. So your third paragraph just became overcome by events.
But at least we can see that you are clearly aligned with the Malthusians: it’s all over but the shouting. We are almost out of oil. Ignore all the newly discovered oil fields, the new technologies.
On the other hand, I would like to see more investment and building of nuclear power plants. Unfortunately many, like you, I suspect, don’t want that source of energy either. It’s evil. It’s dangerous (except when compared to solar, wind, oil, coal… the others). We can’t have it, as it will make life easier for all. We can’t have that.


I suspect we could safely construct a safe reactor in one-third of the time (or less) if we just got the damn regulators out of the way. As with a permit to drill an oil well, it should be required to apply for permit only once, and that review should be completed in 90 days. Yes, I know reactors are more complicated, but if the government reviewers can’t do it, I want to know what it would take to get there. More reviewers? Better reviewers? Just different reviewers without an agenda? Quit reviewing parts that don’t need reviewed ? Does any of this require legislation (I seriously doubt it)? What?


What it would take is to get rid of the Nuclear Regulatory Commision, get rid of the cap on losses, and let the insurance industry insure nuke plants. Somehow I think that UL would make d*md sure that combustible insulations weren’t in plenums, that tags didn’t cover critical meters, that backup power systems weren’t built at sea level in a place where tsunami occur, you know, the tough stuff.

Back in the 1980’s Reason magazine did a fantastic article on nukes and the NRC. Complete with photos from control rooms showing beer taps used to differentiate control levers and “Important” tags covering meters.

” let the insurance industry insure nuke plants”
Price Anderson exists because the private insurance industry would not insure a nuclear power plant in the past. Based on the Chernobyl and Fukishima events, private insurance would not even THINK about writing a policy today.

Alan Tomalty

There is a 50 year supply of oil 60 year supply of NGLs and a 160 year supply of coal. As soon as a commodity gets scarce, the price skyrockets and consumers or producers switch to something else or use less and at the same time the producers look for more and find more and then produce more and the price goes back down. Oil is made mostly from microscopic bacteria.
Even the most die hard Malthusian admits the world will never run out of bacteria. I had a good laugh at your post. I am sorry but 30 years of global warming scare stories has destroyed my patience with alarmists of any kind.

Leo Smith

so nice to see the laws oft thermodynamics completely ignored in your post as well as any understanding of what ‘peak oil’ is actually supposed to mean..

That a post worthy in its illogic and factual inaccuracies as any climate denying alarmist rant about rising temperatures or renewable energy gets upvotes is a sign that the anti AGW camp is now just as infested with hand wavey nonsense as the alarmist camp.

To create oil requires energy. More energy than you get out. Bacteria may create it ut they need energy to do so. Energy from te sun. The conversion efficiency of organic life to stored energy is about 0.01% that of a solar panel. In short if you want to turn sunlight into oil you would be better off building solar panels and driving a synthetic fuel plant from them.

IIRC human fuel consumption represents a burn rate if about 1% of the total solar energy falling on the planet. Nuclear energy and a bit of stored geothermal and orbital energy (tidal) apart this is the source of all energy on the planet. Today’s fossil fuel is yesterdays incident sunlight.

Ergo fossil fuel is not renewable at the rate we are currently burning it, In fact no fuel is.

The fact is that even nuclear fuels will peak. Probably around 10, 000 years. Or population will. Simply put, to live as we do, at current population levels, our energy per capita exceeds the total incident sunlight that is harvestable, even in theory.

There is not enough renewable (sunlight) energy. We are living off an energy bank built up over millions of years.

Just because peak oilers and Malthusians have cried wolf twice, does not mean the problem does not exist.

We have lived our lives during a period of massive consumption of stored energy.

We think it is the normal state. It is not. It is a historical blip. Nuclear fuel can extended it perhaps 10-50,000 years , but it will still be a blip.

Life on this planet is surfing an entropy wave The original low entropy created by the Big Bang represents a wave rolling up the beach of time, upon which life has found a niche, for a while. Eventually the universe will die a heat death am all life will cease.

Million of years of sunlight are represented by the oil in the ground, that has allowed us just 100 years of glorious luxury, when energy was simply not a problem. It cannot last.

British coal built an Empire, British Coal and the Empire peaked during WWII.

Both are gone, now

Just because you are all right so far, like the man falling past the office window of the 30th floor, doesn’t mean you will be all right forever.

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Nuclear fission can keep the ball in the air perhaps 10,000 more years and fusion longer than that, but even these are not infinite.

Fossil fuel?

Has peaked already in may parts of the world. Perhaps fracking will extend its life a lot, but not indefinitely.

That’s all correct… But current proved oil reserves are equivalent to 30-40 years of consumption. The proved reserve volume is only a fraction of the oil that will be recovered from existing fields.

So, a 50-yr current supply of oil doesn’t approach any thermodynamic boundaries.

The Earth made a lot of oil, particularly during the Cretaceous. It’s still making oil, albeit at a much, much slower rate than we are producing it.


The problem with Climate Modeling is exactly the same with the Big Bang – an endemic belief in entropy. Entropy-in-Entropy-out, not exactly Garbage-in-Garbage-out but close, is built into the models with no scientific proof whatsoever, just an inane religious belief. Newton’s clockwork universe that Leibniz roundly ridiculed, because of the maths – even Newton admitted it.
So the fall-back of of the Malthusian mob is the BB – a theory from a Jesuit priest Lamaitre. Wow!


And we can always drill the coal instead, or is that mixing up the hymnals?

To a certain extent this is shouting past each other, I think. There is a finite amount of oil in the sense that Earth contains only X amount, which is reduced further if we set some economical point for it, but if oil reaches the point where it costs X00 per barrel to obtain it, we’ll develop substitutes or replacements. The idea that this is impossible to do is, I would say, the real article of faith.

Give that man a cigar… We have a winner.


Drilling is banned offshore for Florida and much of the US east and west coast. Alaska’s North Shore is all but banned.

Deep water is almost drilled out? Where did you get that crazy notion from?

The Peak Oilers are a lot like climate alarmists. In there case, every time oil prices go up, they start telling people how smart they are. When prices go down, they start mumbling about it’s gonna happen someday.

Where do I get my information? I’ve been in the oil business since 1975. Offshore Florida doesn’t have much oil. The same applies to the East Coast. It’s called the Alaska North Slope. And that’s got significant potential, but not nearly as much as the fields that have already been produced and are on their last legs. So you see, what they told you isn’t really so.

Offshore Florida has very significant crude oil potential.
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The first offshore discovery in the Jurassic Norphlet sandstone was made by Mobil Oil Company in 1979. As of 2010, Norphlet fields in the Mobile Bay area had produced 4.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas. Chevron and Murphy Oil made a Norphlet discovery in Federal waters of Destin Dome area offshore Florida in 1985; however the State of Florida prevented them from developing it. A total of three wells were drilled. The subsequent moratorium has prevented the development of this field for 32 years. The leases (Destin Dome blocks 56 and 57) are still held through a “suspension of operations” (SOO) agreement until 2022.

Shell extended the Norphlet play out into deepwater with its Shiloh discovery in 2003. Shiloh turned out to be non-commercial; but Shell followed it up with a series of commercial oil discoveries they are currently developing. As you can see on the map. Most of the Norphlet play is “off limits.”


The US East Coast is an almost total unknown. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) 2014 estimate of technically recoverable hydrocarbon potential to be 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 38 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas.

While much of this is rank frontier exploration, the northern boundary of the US Atlantic OCS is adjacent to Canada’s very active Scotia Basin.
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Canada’s total offshore Atlantic production is about “180,000 barrels of oil per day and 150 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.” Unlike the US Federal and State governments, Canada has been actively marketing its Atlantic offshore hydrocarbon potential.


If fully opened up, ANWR and the Alaska OCS could bring North Slope production up to 3 million bbl/d, 50% higher than the peak production of Prudhoe Bay.
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The Norphlet has never been a significant reservoir, and we know that it is buried very deep. Producing it in Mobile Bay in shallow water was very difficult because it has a lot of H2S, and it just can’t be developed in deeper offshore far from land unless prices go above $120 per barrel. The issue always rolls around to price, we need very high prices to get at the low quality prospects we have left. And poor countries won’t be able to pay them.

4.5 TCF is not insignificant. It’s nearly 800 million BOE.

Shell’s deepwater Norphlet discoveries are oil and run right up to the CGOM/EGOM boundary.

Shell Offshore Inc. reported its sixth oil discovery in the Norphlet geologic play in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico.
Drilled to a total vertical depth of 29,000 ft, the Dover well encountered 800 net ft of pay in the Jurrassic Norphlet. The well is in 7,500 ft of water about 170 miles offshore southeast of New Orleans on Mississippi Canyon Block 612. Shell is the sole interest holder.
The discovery lies 13 miles from the Appomattox host platform and is considered an attractive potential tieback, the company said. The Appomattox host platform is on location in the gulf and is expected to start production before yearend 2019.

The Appomattox facility is expected to peak at 175,000 boe/d and has a breakeven price of less than $50/bbl.


Most of this play is in the EGOM. And the Norphlet is only one of about a dozen plays in the EGOM.

That forecast is baloney. You are layering undiscovered fields on top of each other as if you knew with full certainty the oil is there. And it’s an old graph, doesn’t take into account what has happened since it was prepared. What you got there is a cornucopian version of Mann’s hockey stick

The Appomattox platform is under construction The six discoveries have already been drilled and booked. Shell will initially bring Appomattox and Vicksburg on production next year.

Shell wouldn’t have done all this without a 90% certainty that the project is economically viable. From Mars to Auger to Perdido to Appomattox, Shell has been, by far, the leader in deepwater exploration and exploitation in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Appomattox platform has actually been completed and left Ingleside in May…


Appomattox/Vicksburg is almost as big as the entire Mobile Bay Norphlet play, except it’s oil…

Discovery and reserves

The Appomatox field was discovered in March 2010 by drilling the discovery well at Mississippi Canyon block 392. The well was drilled to a depth of 7,643m (25,077ft) and encountered approximately 162m (530ft) of oil pay.

It was followed by drilling an appraisal sidetrack well that same year to a depth of 7,910m (25,950ft), which encountered approximately 116m (380ft) of oil pay. The field was further appraised in February 2012 by drilling an appraisal well in Mississippi Canyon block 348, at a water depth of approximately 7,257ft and to a total depth of 25,851ft. The well encountered approximately 150ft of oil pay.

The Vicksburg field was discovered in July 2013 by a discovery well at Mississippi Canyon Block 393 that was drilled at a water depth of 2,269m (7,446ft), to a total depth of 8,042m (26,385ft). The discovery well encountered more than 152m (500ft) of net oil pay.

The two fields are together estimated to hold recoverable reserves amounting to 650 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) approximately.


And Shell has four other Norphlet discoveries that could be subsea tiebacks to Appomattox.

Most of the wells were drilled more than 2 years ago, so the logs are in Lexco’s OWL database. There are hundreds of feet of pay in the Norphlet section.

don k

“Drilling is banned offshore for Florida and much of the US east and west coast. Alaska’s North Shore is all but banned.”

Mostly not so Mark. Drilling is banned off Florida (because the local Republican politicians want to stay elected. And there is some oil there. Likely not huge amounts however unless the geology is unaccountably different from the rest of the Gulf. Drilling is no longer banned along the EC, but AFAIK, the same formations on shore have never produced a single barrel of oil or cubic foot of natural gas along the coast from Key West to the Canadian borders. There is some petroleum production (Canadian) from the Grand Banks and it is thought/hoped that the deep waters of the outer continental shelf might have similar geology. However, at this point the resource is as nebulous as the Green River Oil Shale.

There’s surely some oil in the Santa Barbara channel. Not so sure about the Catalina Channel. (Rather deep water. Difficult geology. No particular reason to extrapolate the very rich LA Basin fields into the channel),

Production from the GOM has been pretty constant near 1.6 mbpd for 20 years. Problem is that the easy, cheap, near shore oil is gone. Drilling in the GOM requires multiyear, multi-billion dollar investment. Here’s the EIA take — https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=35732 (up a smidge short term)

Unless Arctic ice actually does disappear, oil off the North slope not reachable by slant drilling from shore is likely to be expensive.

Overall, I’m sort of with Fernando. A substantial amount of new petroleum needs to come on line every year to replace depletion in existing resources. Like Lewis Carrol’s Red Queen, we need to run as fast as we can just to stay even.

(NOTE. At sustained petroleum prices above about $100 a barrel, Coal to Liquid (CTL) becomes economic and peak oil probably loses its relevance. But CTL requires huge investments)>

Gulf of Mexico production is just now recovering from Obama-era damage…

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Production from the Federal waters of the GOM will likely exceed 2 million bbl/d within a few years.

Much of the downturn in production from 2010-2015 was due to the unlawful moratorium and permitorium.

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What you label as Obama damage is the aftermath of the Macondo well blowout. Given BP’s lousy behavior, it was needed to reorganize and change policies to make sure it didn’t happen again. I’m willing to bet you $1000 and give you 2 to 1 odds the US Gulf of Mexico OCS, that is all federal waters, will not reach 2 mmbopd ever. But we need a year for payof, say average production for 2021?

The unlawful moratorium applied to the 99% of GOM players who aren’t BP. It delayed dozens of deepwater projects, particularly the recent ultradeepwater Lower Tertiary discoveries, which have only recently begun to come online.

Prior to the unlawful moratorium MMS (now BOEM) was forecasting 1.8 mmbbl/d by 2013 based on committed development projects.

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Those projects are just now reaching full production and more discoveries have been made. BOEM is forecasting 1.9 mmbbl/d by 2020.

GOM production is probably 400,000 bbl/d lower than it would have been without the moratorium and subsequent permitorium… both of which have been in the rearview mirror since 20 January 2017.

Clyde Spencer

While economics dictates CTL, the thing that you don’t mention is that as the raw materials increase in price, the end products increase in price — inflation.


Well said Mark W .
We have a columnist Gwyn Dywer or some name that is syndicated to New Zealand News Papers.He is a real plonker and he has been preaching peak oil and peak for every other commodity for the last 25 years .
Some one should ram the graph featured above on oil production don his throat .These people preach these things is and have no accountability and the public believe because they saw it in the paper .
We have another columnist a clown Tom Occonor ( NZ based ) who wrote in this Saturdays paper that oil was finished and we all had to go to solar but he forgot to mention that the sun does not shine at night and not much during the winter .
He then went on to attack our hydro stations on the Waikato river and stated that the mighty Waikato had been reduced to a stream .The same amount of water still flows down the river but heavy rainfall events are controlled and drastic flooding is all but a thing of the past .
And living in New Zealand with our anti nuclear stance we will be the last developed country to embrace nuclear power .
To top all this off our Government through the Greens have put a stop to further oil exploration in New Zealand coastal waters .A sort of ostrich approach .Put your head in the sand.


Gwynne Dyer is a complete, utter and total ignoramus, who should be ignored, with extreme prejudice.



“we have limited places to drill, other than Texas, and a bit in Oklahoma, North Dakota and maybe Louisiana.”

How about the eastern Gulf, the East Coast Shelf and the North Slope? Or New Mexico and Colorado for that matter.


They just found a new elephant field in Guyana. Khazak field discovered not long ago. Western Argentina is massive.

Western Argentina isn’t an oil basin. I could give you a run down of Argentina’s geology and potential if you wish. The Guyana fields discovered by Exxon are pretty decent….but what gas been found in the last decade is peanuts compared to yearly production. We just fail to find oil as fast as its getting produced. Understand now?


Vaca Muerta in Argentina is believed to have potential similar to the Permian Basin in Texas. It is receiving billions of dollars in new investments. Unfortunately, policy uncertainty will probably keep it from reaching its potential.

Yeah well, and some believe that oil comes from the center of the earth. Have you seen the Vaca Muerta well logs? I have. The Vaca Muerta, at best, is a Baken. And investing billions isn’t a big deal when wells cost $10 million a pop. That’s 100 wells, that’s 50 million barrels. Not exactly a game changer. To get serious in Argentina the investment has to be in the tens of billions of USD. And that takes us back to the problem we see everywhere: we need very high oil prices.

Mark Luhman

You don’t know much about the Baken do you. No they do not cost 10 million a pop. Not only that you are now able to drill multiple wells from a single pad and the rig walks from on hole to the other. The well presently are being drilled in on third the time it took five years ago. Drill crew are now three people. That all it takes to man the present drilling rigs. They have eliminate mud truck, slump pits and when they frack the pipe that water to the site. Add in they are two additional formation below the Baken a from on pad you can do a lot of drilling. Oh by the way the rig count will never again get over 100 in North Dakota it may not get over 50, but the rigs that are now there can do the work that three were need to do in the past. What you say about cost was also true in the eighties during the peak of drilling a well ran about two million, when the down turn happen that cost dropped to about six hundred thousand. From someone who lived in the Baken.

An Inquirer

Oil reserves were 640 billion barrels in 1980. Last I heard, proven reserves were over 1600 billion barrels.

They are a bit lower than that. One problem is the inclusion of NGL in those figures. And I’m sorry but ethane isn’t going to fuel your car, it’s used for plastics. We also see that Venezuela is booked with a gross exaggeration, they are booking about 160 billion barrels of heavy crude without meeting industry standards to call them booked proved reserves.

But you can figure out yourself how this works. Use let’s say 2.4 X 10^12 barrels. Take today’s production (since you include NGL then you can use 93 mmbopd. Increase that at 1% per year for say 30 years, to 125.5 million BOPD. That gives you a figure you can use to see how much has been used by 2048 (that’s 1.2 trillion barrels).

Next we have to see how much oil will be produced when we start declining. I suggest we use 4% decline. We will decline exponentially from 125.5 to 1 million barrels per day. That’s 1.14 trillion (10^12) barrels. So we continue increasing, reach 125.5 mmbopd, hold that for a bit of time, and decline gradually over many years.

You can play with the numbers all you want, but you will have to explain where you think the extra oil comes from. I can’t go beyond a figure which says we will not meet demand within a few decades . But I don’t believe in arm waving, magic technology, or that oil is sitting around waiting for us. A lot of what you read about the supposed huge potential for this or that is meaningless. The largest shale plays in the USA, Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford, together won’t reach 50 billion barrels. And we just used an extra 800 plus billion in the little estimate above. So where is the extra 750 billion coming from?

Phil Rae

Fully agreed on almost all your points, Michael. A figure of 10-16 trillion bbls was what we considered to be realistic in terms of oil resource in our 2010 book…although a significant portion of that is regarded as non-recoverable today ..and those numbers don’t take into account gas hydate of course, which represent an enormous additional resource of hydrocarbons. To date, the world has consumed a total of ~1 trillion bbls so there’s still plenty left. Great article!

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing

Let’s presume that there is a breakthrough in ceramic capacitor technology that drives all batteries out of the big storage scene, that nuclear power for electricity makes a huge comeback, and that electric cars are simply so nice everyone wants one. That means transport demand for oil will drop dramatically. It means the oil will last perhaps 1000 years at a constant rate of consumption, largely for plastic and fertiliser.

In about 1000 years coal will be running out, and that is definitely a fossil fuel.

If it turns out oil is manufactured endothermically in the deep earth by heat and pressure using known energy paths and inputs, it may turn out to be vastly more plenteous than currently imagined.

There are lots of things to worry about like permanently ending war and providing clean water and good education that require concerted global efforts. The globalists will eventually win but that doesn’t mean we won’t have democratic institutions or moral leadership. The future is not a projection from the past. It is what we will make of it.


If it turns out oil is manufactured endothermically in the deep earth by heat and pressure …

That’s called abiogenic petroleum. If that were true and useful, it would indeed be a game changer. However, if I may be so bold as to precis your first paragraph, the stone age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.


Oil is “manufactured” deep in the earth and natural gas as well.
The Russians have been using this knowledge as the basis of their
petroleum and gas exploration and production since the 1870’s.

It has worked well for them.

Robert W. Turner

That theory was disproved and abandoned (even by the Russians) decades ago.


The theory is not disproved and abandoned. There is evidence for it. There is also evidence for biogenisis. Most geologists don’t have the training in thermodynamics to study it properly.

The “theory” has not been disproved. There’s just no evidence of any significant volume of crude oil on Earth that was formed from inorganic material. All geologists are well-versed in thermodynamics. It would be nearly impossible to get a B.Sc. in geology otherwise. And biogenesis has nothing to do with the formation of crude oil.

No they haven’t. That idea is bogus.


Clearly, simple hydrocarbons, eg methane and ethane, are made abiotically in our solar system, galaxy and the universe. Complex combos thereof, like petroleum, not so much.

If there be deep petroleum, it’s from microbes living in Earth’s crust, not from important abiotic sources.

Rich Davis

Wouldn’t the appropriate comparison be that the Stone Age didn’t end because of a drop in demand for stones?

Clyde Spencer

Actually, a drop in demand for stones is exactly why the Stone Age ended. Clearly, advancing technology is the game changer. Metals offered many significant advantages over stone. The boom in oil from ‘unconventional oil’ is the result of advances in drilling technology. The problem is, currently available ‘renewable’ energy sources are unreliable, noisy, eye-sores, with a longevity about half that life-span as coal-fired electric generators. The game changer is, potentially, thermonuclear fusion. Unfortunately, it has been forty years in the future ever since Project Sherwood. Until there is a demonstration that there has been a technological breakthrough in fusion, it is little more than wishful thinking that we can turn our backs on fossil fuels, with all their attendant problems.


Some clever Neolithic noticed that cooking meat cooked stones also. Free metal is cooked from stones. The demand for the right stones rocketed. To be precise we live in a stone age with much higher energy density (fire) methods. And actually we live in the same biosphere with much higher metabolic rates. So the “ages” do a qualitative phase change, impossible to imagine even shortly before with entropic beliefs.
Helium 3 in Lunar regolith will be cooked out (at -200deg) – the demand for regolith will rocket (pun intended). The energy density of He3 fuel methods is key. So we go from an Earthly stone age to a Lunar. Somehow I think that Neolithic would grin and understand.

Robert W. Turner

I’d say the Stone Age ended because max stone technology was reached — the stone forge — which allowed the melting down of certain “stones” into even more useful products. This happened after thousands of years of innovating new ways to use stones. And just like stones were a bridge to bronze, fossil fuels are just a bridge to … ?

Leo Smith

?…nuclear power.


We use a lot of stone. If you count the gravel we use in concrete, my wild ass guess is that we used more stone in the 20th century than in all the previous history of mankind. link I think it’s accurate to say that there has not been a drop in demand for stones. 🙂

Clyde Spencer

Yes, but we don’t use it in the same way that people in the Stone Age used stone. They made tools out of stone. That is an important distinction.

Old skeptic

…and the oil age will not end because we have run out of oil. Supposedly said by the Saudi oil minister Sheik Yamani many years ago.


I believe it was Sheik Yabouti that said that.


Do you mean Sheik Yerbouti?

Leo Smith

and all that does is make it unrenewable because there is a limit to how much geothermal energy the plane t contains and how fast it can replace oil

I mean its all as silly as saying ‘that growing biomass will replace fossil fuel’.

Sure biomass is renewable, but how fast?

Even if oil IS abiotic, its obvious we are using it faster than its being replaced

But seriously. Belief in Cornucopianism is as silly as Belief in man made climate change. The facts do not support AGW, The facts do support peak oil.

All we are arguing about is the timescale.

Clyde Spencer

A lot of assumptions that are difficult to distinguish from wishful thinking.

Those figures are meaningless, because most nations can’t afford to pay the huge prices we need to get even 15%.


The oil scare and the CO2 scare are both based on the assumption of “everything else remains unchanged”, coupled with the fact that bad news sells newspapers. Good news does not.

Thus the public tends to only hear one side of the story. The side that favors doom and gloom, and that story fails to consider any information that would tend to disprove the story.

Pseudo science is the same. It looks for examples that confirm as proof rather than examples that contradict. True science looks for the examples that contradict. If even a single contradiction is found, science tells us the idea is false.

Pseudo science tells us an idea is true because there are more examples that prove it true than there are examples that prove it false. As Einstein said, why does it take 100? One would be enough.

The “oil scare” is based on the fact that we can’t find new fields at the rate needed to replace what we produce. All we can do is try to squeeze a bit more oil out of old fields and lousy quality rocks. And that requires ever increasing prices.

Robert W. Turner

We can’t? The oil surplus would suggest otherwise. And what you call “lousy quality rocks”, others are producing billions of barrels from.

The “oil surplus” doesn’t contradict the fact that we aren’t finding new oil fields at a pace to replace what we produce. We are simply pounding fields harder. And yes, those are extremely low quality rocks, which explains why we have to fracture the bejeezus out of them, and why it takes tens of thousands of wells to get the oil out. Which by the way isn’t exactly what US refineries need (it’s too light).


We’ve been doing what you claim can’t be done for over 50 years.

No you haven’t.


They were right. We were running out of surface anticlines with seeps to drill. The bulk of additional production has always come from “unconventional” means, whether that be seismic data, offshore drilling, horizontal drilling, etc. If you couldn’t say exactly what advances would occur, they didn’t exist .

Robert W. Turner

Using seismic data and offshore drilling are not unconventional means. Unconventional refers to the completion (engineering the oil to the surface) of the well, not the finding of oil.

Clyde Spencer

But still, it was advances in exploration technology that allowed discovery and production to meet demands. Had computers not been invented, we would be missing more than just the internet!

Back in “the day,” seismic crews had a seismic computer… he was the guy who could do math… 😎


They were at the time. I used to give a nice talk on the Powder River Basin. First we drilled the surface anticlines, using the method of field mapping. We drilled them all, announced we had found all the oil and fired all the geologists. Then along came this new, unconventional tool, the “seismograph” Found the rest of the 4 way dip structures, fired all the geophysicists and moved on. Until a nice fat 100 million barrel sand bar was found, trapped in the unconventional manner, a stratigraphic trap! Found another 100 fields, all trapped without a conventional structure. Now they are drilling and fracking the source rocks. You can call it the first unconventional oil from the Powder River Basin, but in reality it is just the progression of technology, making the more difficult hydrocarbons available.

Kalifornia Kook

I really like your logic! Here in my household, we are facing starvation because the refrigerator is running low on food, and we don’t want to put in the effort to go to the grocery store. The easy food is disappearing. We are doomed.


Forget the grocery store. Sue the refrigerator manufacturer.


In the end this realization, that there is a humungous amount of petroleum left yet to “mine”, is really attractive news for the CO₂=death propagandists. Wonderful. It means that the upward trend of the upward growth of atmospheric CO₂ will continue unabated in the future, and any global warming trends can safely be attributed to this invisible gas for the rest of any living person’s reasonable lifetime.

As noted by others, if the magic wand of technology were to “solve” the “battery problem” for electric vehicles, and were the public to be so taken by the spectre of Global Stewing that they were to immediately begin authorizing build-up and build-out of fresh nuclear facilities, well … then and only then might oil use self-cap.

But that’s a long shot.

Because of batteries being chemical beasts. Energetic tho’ the reactants might be, there is only so much of both that one can squeeze into each tiny tin can that composes a big car battery like Tesla’s. Replacing one of the reactants with “air” seems to obviously fit the bill — nothing to contain, just drag in, use, and move on. Only that no one has hinted — even plausibly — in being able to commercially produce the magic X-air battery and have it work reversibly for more than a few rechargings. And they’re slow-to-recharge by comparison to existing tech to boot.

Will batteries magically be improved? Sure. But not an order of magnitude. Not a factor of 10×. Thus the “battery problem” is going to be with us a long time. And EVEN if one continues with the magic yew wand idea, even then there really isn’t an infrastructure growth plan in place that could even modestly handle the added load of hundreds-of-millions of cars being charged around the clock. The grid… wow. Its not just the grid that’d need deep reinforcement, but the generating capacity across nations as well.

Which then again forces consideration of “just how efficient is e-car transport”, end-to-end? I mean from the energy potential of the primary input fuels to the miles-on-the-freeway delivered energy in the vehicles.

Its not that good. Arguably better than an ICE engine, but with quite a few parasitic losses that are overlooked all the time and nearly impossible to rectify.

So we will have more petroleum!
And apparently a LOT of it!

Except if you are a CO₂ warmist.
Or maybe double-Yay for them too…
Powering pointless symposia, endless protests and too-good wankerism worldwide.


R. Shearer

Yeah, the peak oilers and warmers were often one in the same but they could not see the contradictory nature of their belief system. Now, at least, they can logically remove constraint on CO2 emissions, although they can and do still hold many incorrect beliefs.

I would really like to know when the next collapse in oil price will occur. I would ride oil long until that point and then reverse course. Does someone know this? Can someone actually make it happen? Is it even knowable?


God knows.

Leo Smith

Your Cornucopianism is just another belief system too.

At least there is some evidence for peak oil and peak population.

Both have happened locally, just not globally, yet.

Oil prices are going up now. Higher prices drive the industry to get more oil out. But we overshoot, this drives prices down, and we lay off personnel and start cannibilizing equipment. This leads to a slight shortage which drives prices up, and the cycle repeats. But every cycle the price goes up higher and thus today we use a price that in real terms is 2 1/2 times what we used in 1998 to justify investing. And 20 years from now it will be higher still. And this implies that eventually market players drop out, they can’t afford the price. And when they start dropping we reach peak oil. It’s going to happen. But it’s hard to say when. I think it will be after I’m dead.

Ian Macdonald

There is also a factor that batteries have in common with explosives and rockets, which is that they contain both fuel and oxidizer. That has fundamental implications for safety. No oxygen or ignition source is needed to start a conflagration, just a short circuit.

John from the EU

And a little bit of mechanical, heat or electrical stress would trigger such an event.

Terry Gednalske

I recently read a news item from Florida about a Tesla that crashed, going 116mph in a 60 mph zone. The vehicle was in flames when the emergency responders arrived. They put out the fire, but it reignited before they could clean up the scene. They extinguished the fire again, and transported what was left of the vehicle to a salvage yard, where the batteries ignited again, for the third time! Why are these things allowed on the public highways?


Car gas tanks are surrounded by 21% oxygen.


Strange fact: those who assume that oil extraction technology cannot change and that “non conventional oil” is a well defined concept (anything beyond what is mainstream oil extraction tech, or was mainstream some time in the past) also assume that battery technology has not almost peaked and will make huge progress in the few years in term of price, capacity, durability, and reliability in the temperature range adequate for all uses, even aviation!

Leo Smith

The only way those that assume that battery technology has not almost peaked will make a lot of money is if the democrats get back into power and throw money at them to make batteries that are just the same as the ones we have now.

Like windmills and steam turbines batteries were pretty much understood and their theoretical limits calculated over 100 years ago.

Your trusting faith that ‘stuff can be made better, because in my lifetime stuff has been made better’ is touching, but naive.

Actually lithium air might, and I stress might, just give us a one order of magnitude better battery which is just enough to replace fossil fuel transport.

http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Beyond_Fossil_Fuels.pdf is my summary of where I see we currently are and the options

Coach Springer

You say “those believing in peak oil often displayed” like they are gone. They are waiting.

I’m not into peak oil. I got started in the oil business in 1975, and have seen over the decades how it gradually became harder to find oil, to produce the oil we found, and to get more oil out of known accumulations. The information at hand shows that we simply can’t keep up with consumption over the long term.

One problem I have is that most of you don’t understand how we work on a worldwide basis. The oil being produced from really low quality rocks in Texas and North Dakota isn’t really a sign that everything is fine, it’s a sign that we are close to the end of the road, meaning that we just have to get paid much more for the oil we extract. A lot more. And at some point in time a fraction of the world population won’t be able to buy it.

Kalifornia Kook

You’re so right. Years ago, when oil was $120/bbl, a good friend of mine who worked deep water production assured me that $150 oil would occur that year. And that would only be the start of price increases. We were on our last legs. Production could only go down, prices up.
His company isn’t doing the booming business it was then. There is so much easier oil now without gong to deep water wells. That is still an important technology, but expensive.
When your job depends on it, oil is tight. When your job depends on it, CAGW is upon us. Some things never change.


Your point is well made.
Wjen oil gets more expensive, we will move on to something else.
My bet is ir will be accompanied by even more world prosperity.


When oil gets more expensive, oil that is too expensive to exploit now, will be exploited.

Yes, but the high price will discourage consumption and that’s when we may see vehicle size shrink. Your grandchildren may not want to drive an SUV when gasoline costs $20 a gallon.


Fernando L
You seem to have a lot to say but in most countries fuel petrol and diesel are taxed to the max by greedy politicians to pay for roading and now alternative transport .
Just look at Auckland New Zealand 11.5 cents a litre extra tax on all petrol and diesel sold in the Auckland area from to morrow on top of 85cents to $1 per litre on petrol already being paid by all consumers

Hunter, you may move on to something else, but poor countries won’t be able to afford it. You see, you guys tend to focus on your circumstances, and have difficulties visualizing what happens in say Indonesia, Pakistan, Jamaica, South Africa, etc. This means the “world prosperity” you anticipate will be less than you think. This will be reflected in lower worldwide GDP growth in the future, lower oil demand and I suppose a bit of war and starvation. That energy transition will be very hard on poor countries.

Leo Smith

That us the definition of peak oil


Fernando L

That’s a reasonable presentation of the situation I can respect.

And whilst I do respect it, I recall being told much the same in the 70’s when the oil price shot up. However, technology, and politics came to the rescue.

My problem is, that to labour under the misapprehension that renewables can come to our rescue is simply ludicrous. Not that I think for a moment you consider renewables viable..

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and in the same way, there is no such thing as free energy. Wind and solar farms gobble up valuable resources to manufacture and construct, much of it fossil fuels, as well as acres of land, for a tiny, unreliable return.

That return must be supported by conventional fossil fuel energy, or the supply would be unreliable and result in social chaos. But the fossil fuel power stations are disrupted by wind and solar when it’s working; power stations must operate at below peak efficiency, thereby wasting more valuable fossil fuel to achieve a specific outcome.

I think humankind realises fossil fuels are finite, we don’t need to be terrified into believing it. However, I think we also understand that life doesn’t simply cease to exist when a technology is exhausted or depleted, we have the imagination and abilities to move to something else.

So we began to adopt nuclear power. Entirely reasonable, an emerging technology way back when, but minority groups condemned it from a position of fear and ignorance.

And this is the conundrum; we in the west began to listen to these minority groups, despite us being a democracy where the majority vote is sacrosanct. And I suffered it, watching with dismay as the CND camps, of unwashed anarchists, camped outside Faslane, the UK’s nuclear submarine base, protesting against our nuclear deterrent.

Which is fine, I don’t care if some unwashed, ignorant toerag want’s to bring their children up as feral brats. What I do object to is our governments listening to these types, and allowing the cancer to spread, thanks to their policy of appeasement.

We aren’t in the age of global warming, climate change, or any other name you care to give the phenomenon. We’re in the age of the minority group trampling over democracy because our democratic governments are too scared to fight back, for the majority.

Socialism is a consequence, creeping steadily forth as the desires of the individual overturn the will of the electorate. As a consequence, energy is grossly misused, technology is stifled. £300 Bn of taxpayers money will have been spent on climate ‘issues’ by the UK government, by 2050, doubtless 50% of it going in profit to rent seekers.

That money could be spent on new fission, or fusion technology, instead of being spunked on a technology abandoned in the 19th Century because it was only useful for grinding wheat to make artisan breads.

The threat to humanity isn’t from global warming, nuclear war, or a global pandemic; well, it is, in that socialism, and the rise of the minority pressure and lobby groups, are a modern day pandemic in the west, right now.

AGW is simply a manifestation of minority groupthink, which employs the most effective marketing campaign known to man, word of mouth.

Sorry. Rant over, and apologies for meandering off topic.

Hotscot I only got into the oil business in the 1970’s. So I wasn’t predicting anything. My first sense that something was wrong was around 1988, when I started advising an exploration VP in a large multinational. This gave me access to very good information. And I could see our exploration results were really bad. This made me ask myself if possibly all major oil companies were doing a poor job? So I convinced the boss to commission a rather comprehensive study of industry oil exploration results over the previous ten years. As it turned out they were lousy.

That drove a significant reduction in our exploration budget, which was over dimensioned, and the high grading of personnel (we laid off a fraction of the staff). We also made other moves to get our hands on oil reserves, such as buying heavy oil properties, getting into the former Soviet Union, and other deals like that.

Since then we have seen oil prices go up nicely (today they are about 2 1/2 times what we used to run economics 20 years ago). The higher oil prices have enabled drilling deep water, developing heavy oils, and going after really low quality rocks using horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing. But we are already seeing the end of the road in deep water, (the wells getting drilled now produce less than half of what we used to drill 20 years ago).

Another point you may not understand is that most oil companies would rather not discuss too much that they are gradually producing less oil. This they cover up by labeling gas production in “barrels of oil equivalent”. But methane isn’t crude oil. Neither is NGL, which they also use to cover up what’s going on.


Fernando L

Fair point, and I must defer to your knowledge of the industry as I haven’t a clue how it works.

What I will remark on, is that the oil companies producing less oil, may not be their preferred discussion however, they are largely legally obliged to present governments with reports. And of course, as inefficient, and incompetent as they are, governments do undertake their own investigations.

I think we’re all aware oil will dry up, when is the point. Or possibly, how much will we use in the future?

So yes, it’s happening, but perhaps disguised by this CO2 wild goose chase which is consuming more resources than it’s saving.

As I said, far better spending the vast amounts of money wasted on it on new fission energy, at the very least. With the money wasted so far on climate change, Europe could have an entire fleet of cheap, possibly modular reactors by now, but for green minority pressure.

And when’s all said and done, progress has been stifled by the green blob, if for no other reason, but for nuclear power alone.

Hotscot, we turn in reserves and production figures to justify why they are considered proved. Shell screwed up booking gas for their fields a few years back, this led to stricter SEC requirements, we pushed back a bit because it was eating a lot of manpower to keep them happy, and some of their rules were USA centric and stank. The USA has the Energy Information Agency, they tend to make mistakes. Because there’s a lot of politics involved in this game, nobody shows all their cards.

You can see what goes on here, there’s a hard push to sell that oil wil be enough for a very long time, when it’s evident it won’t. The reason why they do it? I think it’s because they realize that renewables and nuclear are like a reserve extender, they help us meet demand without going as high, which of course allows oil and gas to last longer. I think there’s going to be an energy transition and it’s not a bad idea to develop alternatives. To me it’s not a global warming issue, it’s a security issue. Plus I think the Saudis are religious fanatics and that country can go unstable any time.

We book reserves under under very strict SEC rules. The current rules have been in place for at least a decade.


Anyone with any experience in the industry would know this.

Current rules have been in place for just under a decade, December 2008.


David Middleton

Obliged for the intervention.

I don’t see the oil, gas, coal etc. businesses as some out of control cowboy.

Some localised shenanigans perhaps, but ultimately, wholesale lying about a finite resource is counter productive.

They lie about peak oil, oil runs out, where are their profits? If we’re not all dead, shareholders would be crawling all over these companies with law suits. Because it’s their money that’s at stake.

socialism, on the other hand, would encourage lying because the state treats its ‘citizens’ like mushrooms.

Keep them in the dark and feed them shit.


And I suffered it, watching with dismay as the CND camps, of unwashed anarchists, camped outside Faslane, the UK’s nuclear submarine base, protesting against our nuclear deterrent.

All of Europe should thank all that’s holy for the UK’s and France’s nuclear deterrent. Without the US, it’s the only thing keeping Putin from rolling in and taking up residence. Americans tend to make fun of European defenses but, damn it, at least those two countries have the resources to stand up to tinpot dictators with nukes (cough…Iran…cough). Sweden and Germany and the Netherlands should acquire the gonads to do the same.



Damn, this is a difficult one.

The way I see it, Russia did what the west wanted and adopted Capitalism. They’re not good at Capitalism yet, but it took us a long time to get better at it, but somehow, they are still portrayed as the enemy.

As Putin rightly points out, it’s not America that’s ringed by Russian military bases on ‘friendly’ soil, it’s Russia ringed by American bases on friendly European soil.

I suspect not without reason, however, the comparison stands.

Nor was it Russia that tried to invade Germany in WW2, it was the other way around. Indeed, it was, arguably, Russia that ended WW2 and lost millions of people doing so.

So whilst I take your point, I remain unconvinced that Russia would, any more than any other country, march across European borders. The mineral reserves Russia has is enough to suggest it’s rather likely to be the other way round, which is perhaps why Putin is so protective of his country.

And whilst I’m at it, one of the safest places in the world is Faslane and the surrounding area. It’s one of the most strategically defended places on the planet, and in the even of a nuclear war, it wouldn’t be worth the price of a nuclear strike because all it’s submarines would be at sea.

If the object of the exercise was to cause death and terror, the strike would be on Glasgow city centre, not an empty submarine base.

But try telling that to the mad CND or SNP.


Stalin was planning to invade Germany, but Hitler beat him to the punch. The reason so many Red Army formations were overrun is because Stalin had them forward deployed, rather than in defensive and counter-attack positions.

You forget that Stalin jointly invaded Poland with Hitler, then overran the Baltic States and attacked Finland. Then, after the war, he again deployed his forces far forward, in attack positions against Western Europe.

Russia has repeatedly attacked the West, ever since Peter the Great raided the Swedish coast. It has occupied not just Berlin repeatedly, but Paris. The ever-victorious general Suvorov built his reputation fighting in northern Italy, and would have advanced to Paris, except that the French stopped the other Russian army, with which he was to cooperate, in SW Germany.

If Putin can dominate Europe with energy politics, he might be content. But nothing beats military occupation, as his adventures in the Crimea, Ukraine, Georgia and Syria show.


Your narrative is straight out of today’s fascist Bandera Kiev playbook, paid for by Obama’s Victoria Nuland, run by Christopher Steele’s MI6.
Trump will have a chat with Putin about some of this, and let Chatham house/CFR/RIIA have conniptions – who gives a damn.
As Trump said in Singapore, the past does not determine the Future.



“You forget that Stalin jointly invaded Poland with Hitler, then overran the Baltic States and attacked Finland.”

No, I didn’t. Russia became an ally and sacrificed millions to repel Hitler. Irrespective of Hitler beating them to the punch, the Russian people were instrumental in defeating Germany. Nor was Germany all about Hitler, no more than Britain was all about Churchill. They were rallying points, no more.

The Romans occupied most of Europe, how much of a military threat is Italy now?

“If Putin can dominate Europe with energy politics, he might be content. But nothing beats military occupation…….”

Except the EU, which is the ‘peaceful’ means by which German politicians seek to achieve what Hitler couldn’t.

Leo Smith

Um. Russia already DID walk across European borders and annex ALL the nations it crossed until stopped by the Allies in Germany.

And it didn’t then retreat and leave them to be free countries for the next 45 years.


Bandera again.


Leo Smith

My understanding is that Russia was gifted Eastern Europe by the allies. Any march was political.

Your analysis is pretty good. I worked and lived in Russia in the 1990s, and it seems to me US and European politicians are being quite obtuse when dealing with Russia. Par for the course.


“Without the US, it’s the only thing keeping Putin from rolling in and taking up residence.”

Why would Putin want to invade and occupy a continent full of Communists?




The same reason Stalin invaded and occupied Europe: power and territory to control. And he wants it back.

I would like to bring those who think this way back to reality, to the facts. To do so, I will recall once more Russia’s most recent history.

Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.
President Vladimir Putin (2005)

That said, I don’t think it’s the United States’ responsibility to interfere in relations between European nations, as we did many times last century.


Oil and Gas production is sorta like three phase electric supply.

The economy drives consumption, consumption drives prices, price drives exploration/production and production drives the economy and they are all 90 degrees out of phase by about 5 years. The system has positive feed back and will in time go into a runaway mode till it all blows up. All this enthusiasm, and we just felt the wells first KICK.


Shale wells have become a lot more productive as fracking has improved. Western Argentina has HUGE shale oil reserves. Apply the new tech to that field and they will become a major producer. The problem is politics.

I’d say the Vaca Muerta resources in Argentina won’t be as high as the Eagle Ford’s. That Argentina potential is oversold. I assume you can look up the names I used if you aren’t familiar with them. By the way, I happened to look at Vaca Muerta well data as early as 1979.


There is only one sign that gives us the full story on oil, and that is the price at the pump. That current price indicates that we have stacks of oil left.

Clyde Spencer

Either you weren’t around, or you have forgotten how quickly gasoline prices shot up during the two Arab oil embargoes in the ’70s. Oil prices have been quite volatile in recent decades because the supply and demand are so closely matched. A slight tightening of supply, as when an oil refinery closes for repair, is reflected immediately in a rise in price.

Tom Halla

Much of the “peak oil” and scarcity themes have been excuses for political interference in the supply, as with the 1970’s Middle East oil boycotts and price spikes. Currently, there is a political meltdown in Venezuela, formerly a major oil producer, and proxy wars between Iran and Saudi Arabia, both major producers.
Most of the problems are political, not technical per se.

Joe Chang

I assume that the main issue with “Peak Oil” theory is that the model might be somewhat correct if technology was static. I recall somewhere that economically recoverable was only a few percent of the total oil in a reservoir. Presumably, this fraction can increase both with technology and the value of oil, greatly complicating the peak oil model

The peak oil theory looks to me like an approach that tried to simplify a very complex problem. I dont adhere to the approach. I come at it as an engineer who has access to information and sees we are running out of room. One issue is the very high refinery run rate (about 81 mmbopd), and the fact that it’s increasing slowly but relentlessly. This means we have to work like crazy and charge ever increasing prices to keep refineries happy. And the price will soon, say within two-three decades be incredibly high.

When oil hit the $30 range I went out and bought a bunch of oil stocks. They say one isn’t supposed to expose a lot in the same area where one works, but I thought it was a slam dunk. Now I’ve unloaded a portion, but I think there’s more room for higher prices. Trump has really helped by putting sanctions on Iran, and if they work we may see prices go back to the $100 plus range, because we can’t replace what Iran produces (I don’t know who advises Trump but it looks to me the guy is a big dummy). Anyhow, I’m not touting oil stocks, the price is very volatile, but I think in the long term we are headed for $120 plus per barrel.

Clyde Spencer

To a certain extent the static technology is implied. King Hubbert used empirical data to develop the theory. At the time he did his work, conventional oil was the only real known economically viable source, and the exploration technology still hadn’t been significantly impacted by computers. The far-reaching impact of computers on exploration might just as well be viewed as equivalent to a breakthrough in fusion. It really is a different game.

That all just makes the total recoverable resource larger. It doesn’t really alter the underlying principle.

Clyde Spencer

It makes the total recoverable crude oil larger, but doesn’t change the recoverable conventional crude oil. The point being, definitions are important when discussing things.

The only thing that matters is the totally recoverable crude oil. Technically, the only thing that matters is the totally recoverable refinery feedstock. How it gets out of the ground isn’t really relevant to the Hubbert equation.

Bear in mind that economics determines what’s ultimately recoverable. We don’t even know what the OOIP is.

I prefer the dry analysis by Javier at judith curry over the speculation in the above posting
comment image

Robert W. Turner

The above is not speculation and if you were to do the same analysis Javier did using 1965-1975 you wouldn’t come to the same 2065 inflection point because an analysis of past data does not predict the future economics and production technology.

Thing is, there’s no future production technology we can see that makes a difference. And economics are driven by higher oil prices and lower costs. But costs are increasing, and this means we need much much higher oil prices. And these prices eventually exceed the ability to pay of poorer countries. It’s hard to say how the peak will come about…many of us think it will come when there’s a temporary drop in prices due to slight oversupply. The price drop leads to layoffs and budget cut backs, and when prices rise again (as they are doing now) we can’t run fast enough to ever get production back up. Some assume at that point nuclear power, natural gas, renewables, and coal will take up the slack. However natural gas is also running out, it’s just going to take decades until its price becomes unbearable.

Clyde Spencer

Peak Oil did not predict that we were going to run out of oil. What it predicted is that the price would escalate after the peak was reached, because of its inherent volatility.
Eventually, the price would get so high that it would no longer make sense to burn it, and the production on the downside of the curve would have to be reserved for lubrication and plastics. In the meantime, as the price of oil increased, there would be rampant inflation, decreasing the standard of living, particularly for those with limited disposable income. An increase in the price of oil, making marginal sources economically possible, have undesired consequences.

Leo Smith

Exactly. ‘peak oil’ is not running out of oil. Its running out of oil that can be extracted and deployed with less (energy) cost than the next alternative.

Taking politics out of the equation New nuclear power at the socket should be less than 10c a kWh.

A gallon of gasoline has 35 kWh in it give or take. So if gasoline goes over $3.50 a gallon nuclear electricity is cheaper. In fact since gasoline engines are around 40% as efficient as a BEV, if gasoline goes over $1.40 a gallon, nuclear electricity is cheaper…if you have a zero cost battery!

What this means is that as oil prices climb, nuclear electricity starts to out compete it for many static applications. In France they do not use oil or gas for heating. They use nuclear electricity.

Currently nuclear electricity at the socket is probably higher than 10c. gasoline at the pump is around $2.50 or so

Which is why no new power stations run on oil.

They run on gas or coal.

We are in fact rapidly approaching oil prices that start to make nuclear power if it got be de politicized, seriously attractive.

The thrust of my thesis here http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Beyond_Fossil_Fuels.pdf was that at gasoline prices round three times what they are now, the economics of generating synthetic hydrocarbons instead of using batteries or fuel start to look sane.

To me the future is clear. There are two options. moving to nuclear power and all nuclear electric plus synthetic fuels for portable applications (unless lithium air batteries can be made to work), or a collapse to a new dark age dominated by green faith based politics, drastic population crash (99.9%) and a return to basic hunter gatherer lifestyles. That being all the average green is capable of.

Darwin will be tested again. Are modern metrosexual green libtards actually fit to survive?

My suspicion is that without the technology that they condemn, no is the short answer.

Rud Istvan

The Forbes article is uninformed. There is a distinction between conventional and unconventional crude oil. Unconventional is API<=10, porosity<5%, permeability 75% of all the TRR ever to be discovered (both conventional and unconventional) already has been. Covered in detail in ebook Gaias Limits, and again in several energy essays in ebook Blowing Smoke.
Don’t let a few year supply demand imbalance thanks to US shale fracking obscure the big picture.

Robert W. Turner

Try about 100 years of Gaias Limits type predictions of running out of crude oil and them always being wrong.

Rud is right. Basin after basin hit peak and started declining. And we haven’t been able to reverse the decline. Alaska North slope, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico conventional, Mexico, Trinidad Columbus basin, Australia Bass Strait, Angola, Tatarstan, Orenburg, China, and on and on.

Robert W. Turner

The big picture:
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A specific example:
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But you won’t find many basins getting the Permian or Williston performance (in other words you are doing what we call cherry picking). For example, take the North Sea. The oil fields in the Viking Graben have reached their peak a long time ago, and there’s no shale potential. The same applies to most other regions.

Let’s put it thus way, in the oil business we like to keep an eye on each other. We see what the others do, and if think it’s going to work for them we also move in. Sometimes we just buy them out. Other times we try to pick up acreage, sign deals, and so on. And you have to be in the business to understand that (for example) the Monterrey shale in California stinks, and that Permian definitely seems worthwhile (because Exxons XTO is moving in, and Exxon isn’t stupid). And we just aren’t seeing much action by big players making big moves into shale until the last twelve months. Which tells me they are betting on higher prices. Thing is, eventually the prices we need will get too high.

Leo Smith

Actually first of all, no one is taking about running out, except you. It’s a total straw man.

Peak oil is about it becoming so expensive that it ceases to be the fuel of choice.

Secondly oilfield after oilfield HAS become unproductive at sensible cost. And we are discovering fewer an fewer new ones, and even fracking can’t make oil economic beyond a certain point.

Peak oil in terns of crude is probably within the next few decades. Peak gas a bit longer, and peak coal a bit longer again.

peak renewables will be within a few decades as well, and peak uranium will be in a few thousand, unless peak population is also within a decade or two.

API gravity, permeability, porosity have nothing to do with whether or not oil is conventional or unconventional… And permeability can’t be measured as a percentage.

Crude oil is classified as light, medium, or heavy according to its measured API gravity.

-Light crude oil has an API gravity higher than 31.1° (i.e., less than 870 kg/m3)
-Medium oil has an API gravity between 22.3 and 31.1° (i.e., 870 to 920 kg/m3)
-Heavy crude oil has an API gravity below 22.3° (i.e., 920 to 1000 kg/m3)
-Extra heavy oil has an API gravity below 10.0° (i.e., greater than 1000 kg/m3)


<10° API = extra heavy crude oil.

Canada's oil sands and the Green River oil shale are examples of unconventional oil.

The oil of the Bakken, Eagle Ford and other shale plays is very conventional oil.

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Eagle Ford API gravity ranges from 30-45°. Liquids lighter than 45° are classified as natural gas condensate. The oil is conventional. The extraction process (massive frac jobs on horizontal wells in shale formations) is what’s unconventional.

Shale formations are porous, with porsoity ranging from <10% to 70%...


Unlike sandstone, shale is impermeable. Permeability (k) is measured in millidarcys (md).


You are wrong. I hate to disappoint you, but reading Wikipedia doesn’t get you even 5% of where you need to be.

Wikipedia isn’t wrong about API gravity.

Here’s an industry link for oil properties you may wish to use


Equinor… “All energy is equal” or some other nonsense. Formerly known as Statoil. Nothing in their assays of specific crudes contradicts the Wikipedia summary of API categories.

You really couldn’t make this up if you tried…

The board of directors of Statoil proposes to change the name of the company to Equinor. The name change supports the company’s strategy and development as a broad energy company.
The name Equinor is formed by combining “equi”, the starting point for words like equal, equality and equilibrium, and “nor”, signalling a company proud of its Norwegian origin, and who wants to use this actively in its positioning.

“The world is changing, and so is Statoil. The biggest transition our modern-day energy systems have ever seen is underway, and we aim to be at the forefront of this development. Our strategy remains firm. The name Equinor reflects ongoing changes and supports the always safe, high value and low carbon strategy we outlined last year,” says chair of the board in Statoil, Jon Erik Reinhardsen.


They put out a Youtube video to celebrate this nonsense, it drew howls of laughter throughout our office.

Here’s the Equinor table and Wikipedia summary sorted by API gravity…

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Now try to explain what’s wrong with the Wikipedia summary of API gravity categories.

By the way… I have been a geophysicist/geologist in the oil industry since 1981. From 2007-2012 I was VP of exploration for the E&P subsidiary of an offshore service company. I’ve worked the fracking Gulf of Mexico since 1988.

Nothing in either Wikipedia citation is wrong. The definition of darcy units and API gravity categories aren’t particularly complex… Although darcy units are kind of weird.

Clyde Spencer

I would beg to differ about the definition of conventional oil. In my book, conventional oil is that which has migrated from the source rock(s) and been trapped so that it can accumulate. The classic example would be Spindle Top. Unconventional oil is everything else. That is, shales that have to be fractured to increase permeability are not conventional. By your definition, the organics that are found in low porosity, low permeability limestones would be ‘conventional.’ I think that a useful definitional distinction would be those sources that either flow under pressure, or can be pumped, are conventional. Those that require fracturing and/or heating are unconventional.

Sounds reasonable. I would add chops (cold heavy oil production with sand), but I’m not100% sure. Most petroleum engineers don’t know how it works, and it’s mostly used in Canada, kind of an in between.


API 40.

I thought the deprecation of peak oil concerns was because the alarmists realized that if we were at or past peak oil, there wouldn’t be enough CO2 left to be an issue. Didn’t this get replaced with ocean acidification?


We still have the Arctic to open up for exploration. After that is the Antarctic.

Where in the Arctic are you thinking of?

Kalifornia Kook

I thought you said you were in the oil business. We shouldn’t have to tell you, and you could try using Google.

I was trying to make the point that you are unlikely to know much about Arctic potential. A lot of it is in ice infested waters, and I would not count on the Beaufort or the Kara being all open water in 2035.


The east and west coasts of the US are both off limits for political reasons, as well as the entire coastline of Florida.

Robert W. Turner

Economics didn’t matter because ‘you have to find oil before you can produce it’ and if it’s there, it will be produced.

Sounds like they either never worked in E&P or didn’t survive very long in the industry. I wish that were the case, because finding oil is actually rather easy, it’s bringing it to surface economically that is the hard part.

Actually, finding oil is getting incredibly hard. I think you must be referring to getting oil out of junk rock like the Bakken?

Robert W. Turner

Junk rock, is this some term that retired geologists used back when stratigraphy was described as “blue rock, grey rock, red rock, etc.”?

Junk rock is what I use when I write comments here, because the audience will get incredibly bored by six page comments describing the reason why the “shales” are considered junky rocks.

Sometimes just getting the well down is the hard part!

That reminds me of an old sying: “You can do anything on a cost-forward basis, including going broke.”

M___ S___

Another one of those “consensus science” certainties—all settled. Just as the food pyramid that, no doubt, enabled a lot of type 2 diabetics was settled science, and that a disease like malaria was caused by “bad air” (even giving the disease its name), and the whole DDT scare. These pontificating bullying folks are little different from witch doctors who blamed everything that happened to people angering the spirits.

It’s not “Consensus science” as far as i know. And i dont think im bullying anybody. And i dont appreciate being called a witch doctor.

Kalifornia Kook

Fortunately, you’re not bullying anyone. In a physical sense, you would need superior strength, or a gang to back you up. In this case, you need good arguments and data to back up your claims.
No, I’m not feeling very intimidated. A little amused. Not intimidated.


While we disagree on some things, I respect you in all things.
Your experience, in life and profession, that you gave shared ovrr the years makes it clear you are thoughtful and driven by your best judgement.

Is Oil a Finite resource and WIth an exponential increase in use at what point will that Finite resource run out.
There is good data suggesting that the cost of extracting oil has increased in terms of the amount of energy required to extract one barrel of oil. Back in the 60’s it was something like 100 to one and now it is down to around 16 to one.

If Oil is finite we will run out from known reserves this is thought to be some time around 2060.
Energy is absolutely vital to our technological civilisation, we should be planning for replacement of Oil now as it represents such a huge part of our present energy budget.

I highly recommend Dr Tim Morgans SEEDS Blog.


Kalifornia Kook

Hm. Roger says we’ll run out in about 2060, or about 40 years from now. There is that 40 year business horizon again. Funny how most companies stop looking for resources beyond that horizon. That’s because it would be an inefficient allocation of their financial resources. Not unlike finding the sock drawer full, but you check under the bed, the laundry room, the dirty clothes hamper, because… dang. Can’t come up with a reason.

Leo Smith

No we wont run out, the cost will simply rise so that we use something else (or die) instead

1885, the Pennsylvania State Geologist: ‘the amazing exhibition of oil’ was only a ‘temporary and vanishing phenomenon – one which young men will live to see come to its natural end.’

1885, John Archbold, partner in Standard Oil: “I’ll drink every gallon of oil found west of the Mississippi”

1920, US President Wilson: “There seemed to be no method by which we could assure ourselves of the necessary supply [of oil] at home and abroad.”

1941: US Dept. of the Interior: “American oil supplies will last only another 13 years.”

1978: Glenn Seaborg, chairman AEC: “We are living in the twilight of the petroleum age.”

Damn! Eventually you would think someone would be right.

PS. My very conservative estimate of TRR (as of last year) is just over 8 trillion barrels. I suspect if I did it over this year it would be higher. Then you have to add the oil and gas in international waters, which is probably huge (70% of the Earth) and eventually a legal way to lease international waters will be worked out.

Robert W. Turner

Yep, and yet today you still have charlatans repeating the same sentiment.


Someday, they will be right. Fortunately for us, for 100 years we’ve been very successful in pushing that someday back.
I have no idea when the date of peak oil will be. However the evidence shows that it is not close.

Leo Smith

depends on what ‘close’ means.Less than 100 years certainly unless we lose 90% of world population


Robert W. Turner

We could always go back to slaughtering whales.

I just found another 750,000 bbl. Better add that in… 😉

Kalifornia Kook

Andy – good start, and should be the first post. There are many more such silly predictions, and more being stated with surety and authority every year.
Eventually, they have to be right. At one time it was in my life time. My professors in college (1972) were quite pessimistic. No longer in my lifetime – without a medical breakthrough. But that would be unnatural – like fracking.


We need to set-aside oil reserves JUST to be used for production of … plastics. What would happen to the eco-zealot movement if … “the floating plastic patch -the size of Texas” … suddenly had no new plastic adding to its mass? How could Greenpeace raise $$$ from the Hollywooden elites … if there were no more “threat” from carbon-based giant molecules? Peak oil = peak eco-zealotry. What would happen if there was no more carbon to tax? THAT … is the TRUE disaster of “peak oil”.

Where to start?

Peak oil is real and irrelevant. Oil is a finite commodity. In general, global production will follow a logistic function. The ultimate peak production rate will occur sometime around when we’ve recovered half of the recoverable resource. The total recoverable resource is unknown, but very fracking YUGE. Much YUGER than Hubbert thought it was.

Here’s how Peak Oil works: As of the end of 2014, total US cumulative production was 212 Bbbl, proved reserves were 40 Bbbl and the estimated total undiscovered recoverable resource was 130 Bbbl. If that was the sum total of the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR), then US Peak Oil occurred in 2004…

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This doesn’t mean that the production rate literally peaked in 2004. It means that a hundred years from now, if you fit a logistic function to the data, the peak would be around 2004. However, proved reserves are a moving target because they only represent a fraction of the oil that is likely to be produced from existing fields. “Reserves” has a very specific legal definition. In the US, “reserves” generally means proved reserves (1P). In less regulated nations, “reserves” often includes probable (2P) and/or possible (3P) reserves. Most of the “off limits” areas would fall under “prospective resources”…

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In the US. “proved reserves” are the 1P number. This is the minimum volume of oil expected to be produced from a reservoir (>90% probability). Proved reserves go up all of the time without additional drilling because well performance converts 2P (50% probability) and some 3P (>10% probability) into 1P. Changing economic conditions can also move contingent resources into the 1P category.

As long as proved reserves and undiscovered resource potential remain steady or rise, each barrel of oil produced pushes Peak Oil further off into the future.

Most reserve additions don’t come from new discoveries. They come from reservoir management and field development operations.

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New discoveries are the brown curve at the bottom of the chart.

Recently Bloomberg put out a bar chart showing how the size of new oil discoveries has steadily shrunk over the past 70 years. Here’s that bar chart at the same scale as global crude oil production and reserve growth.

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There’s an old saying in the oil patch: “Big fields get bigger.” The biggest field in the world, Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar oil field was discovered in 1948. When first discovered, the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) was in the neighborhood of 60 Bbbl. It has produced over 65 Bbbl and it is estimated to have about 70 Bbbl remaining (EUR ~130 Bbbl). Half of Ghawar’s EUR was recognized at its discovery. Half of it, or more, will be the result of field development and reservoir management.

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Oil production of Saudi Arabia (total) and the Ghawar field and the percentage of water cut in Ghawar 1993-2003. Ghawar production accounts for over half of annual Saudi crude. Water cut is the ratio of water to total liquids production from an oil field; in water-driven mature reservoirs water cut can reach up to 80-90 %. (Modified after A.M. Afifi, 2004 AAPG Distinguished Lecture; total oil production from BP Statistical Review of World Energy)


People will often babble about conventional vs unconventional oil… This simply demonstrates an ignorance of the use of the word unconventional. Oil produced from shale is conventional oil. The boom in US oil production is due to oil produced from shale. The oil is conventional. The extraction process (massive frac jobs on horizontal wells in shale formations) is what’s unconventional.

“Oil shales” are unconventional oil, solid kerogen… This has not played a role in the boom in US oil production. If it ever becomes economically feasible to tap the unconventional oil of the Green River formation, Peak Oil will be put off “to infinity and beyond”…

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And… There is no evidence whatsoever that crude oil is produced in the mantle from inorganic material… And it wouldn’t matter if it was.

John Garrett

David Middleton—
Thanks for the well-informed and nicely illustrated post.
I find it all-but-impossible to believe that humanity will ever discover another Ghawar.

There’s always Titan… Or the Permian Basin…


Is Ghawar truly a single field? Or is it more analogous to a basin?

John Garrett

Fair question. I have never tried to pass myself off as a petroleum geologist. I’m strictly a geologist wannabe (i.e., without all the hard work and hard-won experience!)

Having said that, I think it is safe to say that Abqaiq is no Shedgum, ‘Ain Dar or North Uthmaniyah.

It took me more years than I am prepared to confess to finally comprehend that “prices make reserves.” Though not a Boone Pickens fan, I give him credit for the simple yet accurate insight that, “The solution to high prices is… high prices.”

I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to (and I’ll believe it when I see it) having a look at ARAMCO’s SEC/SPE-compliant reserve disclosure.

Cheers & regards.

It was kind of a rhetorical question. People often refer to the Bakken and Eagle Ford as “fields.” I tend to think of them as “plays.” But, the thing about shale plays, is that the play and the field are kind of interchangeable. I mostly work Plio-Pleistocene and Miocene plays in the Gulf of Mexico, where there are many very distinctly separate fields.

Robert W. Turner

I call them resource plays. Confusing a resource play like the Bakken with something like dewatering the midcontinent Mississippian didn’t work out so well for some people.

Yep…Not all resource plays were created equally.

Bill Treuren

The price is everything. Cars have probably reduced their fuel consumption by 50% on a like for like basis in the last 20 years and that is also a response to higher prices.

When people talk about the cost of oil and its impact on our lifestyle including the poor I always consider that we drive cars with a full cost of at least $1/Mile and the fuel as in Oil is $2/gal so in a 30mpg car we have a cost of oil at yes 7% of the full running cost.
Some cars cost less per Mile and oil may go to $200/bbl but there will be no mobile car crushers with rows waiting for their turn when oil is $200/bbl.

Cars will end up at 60mpg or equivalent, fuel may end up being gas or electric via some technology but the heads in the oil industry will be most concerned about alternatives energy at $200/bbl rather than geology.
I liked the story about concrete being the extension of the stone age, but but worked by metal ages that followed.

Leo Smith

The price is everything. Cars have probably reduced their fuel consumption by 50% on a like for like basis in the last 20 years and that is also a response to higher prices.

Not really, In my youth (1965) economical cars driven carefully could reach 50mpg, but the norm was 25-40. It is little different today, although the speeds are a bit higher.

Maybe we have gone from 25% efficiency to 40% efficiency but thats about it, and cars are lighter and stronger and have less drag due to aero knowledge materials tech, but we load em up with more other tech.

In the same way that computers are not getting much better any more, cars and airplanes aren’t either, we are reaching the top of the S curves on so many technologies.


I don’t know what else has been lumped into the field, but the main reservoir, the Arab-D is continuous across the structure. When it was first found, they thought it was several fields until it was realized they were all under the same structural closure, with remarkably good connection.. Producing by flowing through 9 5/8″ casing, they could see the pressure effects of new wells miles away.

I always found it amusing when Deffeye’s wrote in his book “Beyond Oil”, that he was maybe the first person to have thin sections of the Arab-D from Ghawar outside of Saudi. My wife worked that reservoir for years, in London and Houston.

I think it will the Permian Basin will significantly outproduce it in the end.

I probably phrased my question bass-akwards. With the exploitation of the shale formations (the source rocks) of the Permian Basin… Has it become one big field? In shale resource plays, does the distinction between field and play cease to be meaningful?

Robert W. Turner

And it is well demonstrated that as the price of gasoline/diesel goes up, the consumer simply switches to more efficient means of using it. This switch is almost immediate because the means to switch to more efficient transportation is already readily available.

The fact that consumers make the choice to prioritize comfort and luxury over spending less on transportation fuel is a clear indication that the current cost of the fuel is not close to an inflection point where an alternative fuel would become more cost effective.

Leo Smith

No. That s completely wring. I heat my house with kerosene and drive using diesel Both are 30% more expensive tan few years ago. I cannot use less, and I have no other options.

I just eat less and drink less instead


Natural gas condensates? How are they produced?

How is condensate produced? Carefully.

1. n. [Geology]

A low-density, high-API gravity liquid hydrocarbon phase that generally occurs in association with natural gas. Its presence as a liquid phase depends on temperature and pressure conditions in the reservoir allowing condensation of liquid from vapor. The production of condensate reservoirs can be complicated because of the pressure sensitivity of some condensates: During production, there is a risk of the condensate changing from gas to liquid if the reservoir pressure drops below the dew point during production. Reservoir pressure can be maintained by fluid injection if gas production is preferable to liquid production. Gas produced in association with condensate is called wet gas. The API gravity of condensate is typically 50 degrees to 120 degrees.

See: dry gas, field, fluid contact, retrograde condensation

Condensate forms the same way that crude oil and thermogenic natural gas form. Natural gas condensate occurs in thermogenic wet gas reservoirs with a thermal maturity between crude oil and dry natural gas.

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There is a 34-year trend of decreasing rate of change in oil production.

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Peak oil is just a question of time, and when it happens you will be the last one to know.

We won’t know we’ve hit Peak Oil until we are decades past it.


Common people won’t be told, that’s for sure. Some people have very good access to information.


David Middleton

“The boom in US oil production is due to oil produced from shale. The oil is conventional. The extraction process (massive frac jobs on horizontal wells in shale formations) is what’s unconventional.”

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but the day an unconventional technology is used, doesn’t it then become conventional?

It’s not really unconventional technology. It’s conventional technology being employed in an unconventional manner… But… Yeah… Lateral wells and massive frac jobs on shale formations has become rather conventional.


One very important difference is the cost of the barrel of oil extracted. It is not the same cost for a barrel of oil produced in Saudi Arabia, that in East Siberia, Eagle Ford, deep ocean, or the Arctic. The oil might be there but we won’t be able to get the same economic benefit from it. The more costly the oil, the closer it will bring us to peak oil.

Leo Smith

Worse still, if it ever takes more energy to extract, than it produces, its use as a primary fuel is effectively zero. It becomes at best a way of taking another energy source – nuclear powered fracking? – to produce something of less energy content but still useful as a portable battery so to speak, Until it costs more than synthetic fuel when it is simply not worth extracting at all.

We don’t spend Btu to drill and produce wells. Nor, do we get paid for our production with Btu. The transactions are in US dollars.

Clyde Spencer

Yes, and that is why subsidies for any kind of energy source complicates the picture. However, I believe that Leo is absolutely right. Long-term, a society cannot expend more energy to produce energy than it gets back from it — unless the government is willing to change the unit of money to tree leaves with pictures or Arthur Dent printed on them.

At $3/mcf and $70/bbl… I can burn gas to produce oil at an EROEI of 1:1 and make nearly a 4:1 simple ROI.

We use the term unconventional because the rocks are lousy, require extreme measures to get the oil out…and the oil is extra light, very rich in light ends. As a matter of fact, some shale plays are failing because the rock isn’t overpressured enough and the oil isn’t extra light, has too little gas, which means the viscosity and energy won’t be good enough, and recovery per well is just too low to justify drilling a well. The US shales are exceptional, just like Ghawar and Samotlor are exceptional. But they aren’t Ghawar nor Samotlor.


Fernando L

“We use the term unconventional because the rocks are lousy, require extreme measures to get the oil out”

So it’s extreme technology, not unconventional?

Hotscot, the rocks have very low flow capacity. The value is so low that the hydrocarbons are usually overpressured (meaning the pressure is above the pressure they would have given a normal gradient). The reservoir usually lacks a geometrical shape we call a trap, the rock layers should be in a gentle slope with very few large natural faults. What stops the oil from leaking out in spite of being at high pressure is the very nature of the rocks, which won’t allow the oil to flow up along the slope. It also helps to have a very impermeable top seal. The crude has to have low viscosity, and this means it has to be light to flow properly. The rock layer in which it is trapped is not pure shale rock, it has to have a mix of carbonate or other rocks to makes it brittle. It has to be brittle so it breaks nicely when we fracture it.

This type of rock can be where oil was generated in nearby conventional fields, so one place to look for candidates is brittle shales with thin carbonate interbedded or mixed in. In the old days we used to call some of these rocks “hot limes” because they show up real good in a gamma ray detector. Unfortunately some of these “shales” have decent flow capacity, are in faulted zones, and they don’t have high pressure. Others have heavier oils and barely produce. The circumstances we see in the USA are extraordinary, and they aren’t necessarily repeated elsewhere. They are definitely unconventional conditions which require a very expensive mile plus long horizontal well fractured with say 30 fractures.


Fernando L

Isn’t an unconventional technology, unconventional, until it’s routinely used?

And is a mile long horizontal, land based well, fractured with, say 30 fractures, more expensive than a sea based well?

Clyde Spencer

I have been using the term “conventional” in the context of what King Hubbert was familiar with when he developed his Peak Oil theory. In the 1950s, other sources of oil were known, but the technology didn’t allow economic recovery. The genius of Hubbert’s insight was that for the first time he demonstrated that petroleum was finite and the prediction of exhaustion was within the ability of Man. While he didn’t envision the technological changes that have occurred since the 1950s, he did predict the first peak shown by Middleton’s graph. And, after the first peak, we started importing ever larger proportions of foreign oil (largely from the Middle East, which is why the Arab Oil embargo was so disruptive.). But, the important thing was that Hubbert showed that we would be up to our armpits in something resembling asphalt unless the industry changed the way it was doing things and invested more heavily in exploration, and took advantage of cutting-edge technology in both exploration and production. But, it all boils down to what those who have a dog in the fight are willing to agree to with regards to definitions. I would prefer to call post-Hubbert era production as unconventional because it relies so heavily on modern technology, particularly computers for seismic imaging, and even computers to guide horizontal drilling. We are producing the same commodity, but in very different ways. Had the computer not been invented, we would be living in a post-Peak world.


Looked at longer-term, world crude production increased from 10 million barrels per day in 1950 to 98 mbd in 2017.

Even should production rate of increase keep declining at the same rate, our consumption of it might slow.

Nadie sabe.

J Carlos

Oil is abiotic. We will never run out.

Leo Smith

So what even if you are right?

Stone never ran out, Bronze never ran out..

by there was peak stone tools and peak bronze just the same


What happened to Peak Oil? It is here, and it is real – look at the production figures. See the peak?

What can happen locally, can happen globally. Oil is a finite resource – it can, will, and must have a peak – eventually.


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Exactly. And we are seeing similar performance all over the place.


The worrying thing about current easy oil production, is that it means we are the last technical civilisation to live on this planet. If we fail, and go back to the Stone Age, no future generation could ever replicate what we have done, over the last 300 years.


Because a technical civilisation is based on easily available fuels – wood, then coal, then oil, then gas, then nuclear. If we fail, a new nascent civilisation 500 years from now will not have any access to cheap energy sources, and so cannot ever make the transition into a technical civilisation.

We are it – the last technical civilisation on the planet. As I understand fossil fuel production, it could only develop fuel-strata because of a lack of fungi that could break down lignin. And so vast beds of woody matter built up. So even if the Earth lay barren for another 500 million years hence, it would not build new strata of fossil fuels for a future people to use. So we are it – the last technical civilisation.

And we have depleated all those easy sources of fuel in just 300 years. 100 million years if energy, gone in a trice. People here say there is no such thing as Peak Oil. But what if the Romans had invented the technical civilisation in AD50, and had been using all the world’s fossil fuels since then? Do you really think we would not have passed Peak Fossil Fuel by now? Really?

Why do people still have such short horizons? Do you really only hope for Western civilisation to last another 100 years? Is that the limit of your horizon? Where are the grand philosophers of old, eh?



Coal continued to form after the evolution of lignin-consuming white rot fungi during the Carboniferous, but at a lower rate.

However, this doesn’t apply to petroleum, as witness for example the mighty Permian Basin deposits.

Petroleum comes not from land plants, but mainly from oceanic microbes and larger unicells (protists).

don k

“Petroleum comes not from land plants, but mainly from oceanic microbes and larger unicells (protists).”

That’s conventional wisdom, plausible, and — I think — largely true. On the other hand, the thought has crossed my mind that the anoxic zones on continental shelves — much deplored by environmentalists — are probably the precursor of the next geologic era’s tight oil shales. Although the current organic contribution may be largely human created, I would think those zones long predate human civilization and contain organic material from a wide variety of sources washed downstream by floods and eventually deposited offshore.


I did say “mainly”. Can’t rule out some contributions besides marine microbes.


That we are reliant on FFs now doesn’t mean that we always will be, anymore than we were restricted to water and muscle power in the past.

The world could get all its electrical power from fission energy right now, it it were willing to do so. What the future holds, who can say?

When and if FFs ever do run out, we’re liable to have new sources of energy by then. If not, then we can mine Titan.


” Do you really only hope for Western civilisation to last another 100 years?”

No, of course not. I want it to end right now. /sarc

Enough with the fearmongering already. When the price of oil climbs it signals to the producers that they should start searching more of it. Why? Because it’s expensive, meaning it’s valuable. While at the same time it signals to the consumers that we should start conserving oil. Why? Because it’s expensive. At the same time it encourages people to find alternative energy sources. Why? Because there is money to be made. So, unless communists come to power and tear down markets, the issue will fix itself. The markets are infinitely better at solving things than any top down central planning solution. Oil will not run out instantly, and civilization will not collapse instantly. There is no need for “oh the civilization is gonna fall unless we act NOW.” What exactly are you suggesting anyway? All I see is just bunch of empty talk and fearmongering. And coal and oil are not depleted. There are no evidence of that.

People like you somehow think that humanity is stagnant. Never innovates, never comes up with anything new, never solves any problems. Only problem with that thinking is that recent history of 300 years completely contradicts it. You forget that people have been saying the exact same thing you are saying for over hundred years. Coal, oil, and pretty much every other resource has just been about to ran out, and doom was always around the corner. For some reason humans are naturally pessimistic, and doomsday predictions have always been popular.

I have read estimates that current fossil fuel reserves could last for hundreds or even thousands of years. Again, if and when they start to run out innovation and markets will solve it, as long as people are left free to think and innovate.

When the price of oil goes up, and we try to find more but we fail at it, and you use less because it’s getting too expensive, then we will have gone over the hump and peak oil will have happened. The issue isn’t really about whether you’ll be able to get gasoline. The issue is that gasoline will be so expensive the typical driver in Indonesia and Pakistan will rather ride a bike.

Clyde Spencer

I think that you need to give some thought to where money comes from. It isn’t just a matter of printing more paper. That leads to inflation. The modern world (at least in industrialized countries) is serviced by slaves that don’t eat when they aren’t working, and eat petroleum when they are working. If it becomes too expensive to feed those slaves, you will have to retire some of them — i.e. reduce your standard of living. To live more than a subsistence life style, there needs to be an affordable supply of energy. And, the way to make it affordable for a large number of people is to have energy sources that require very little energy to produce them.

don k

“As I understand fossil fuel production, it could only develop fuel-strata because of a lack of fungi that could break down lignin. And so vast beds of woody matter built up. So even if the Earth lay barren for another 500 million years hence, it would not build new strata of fossil fuels for a future people to use”

Probably not. Peat continues to form in swampy environments and even today it’s a significant energy source in some places — e.g. Finland. I think there’s a pretty complete sequence from piles of dead leaves and windfall twigs through peat, lignite, bituminous coal, to anthracite..



“If we fail, and go back to the Stone Age, no future generation could ever replicate what we have done, over the last 300 years.”

Wind turbines are taking us back to the stone age anyway.

And I think the point is, that man is inventive and adaptable. Somehow, having hacked down half the trees on the planet (please don’t quote me on that, it’s an expression) for firewood, we reached peak firewood, then some bright spark discovered coal burns even better than wood, but everyone thought it was just a dirty rock. And it was expensive, until it was industrialised.

Then we discovered oil, and coal had an economic threat, but it was expensive, until it was industrialised.

Then we discovered nuclear, and the world was cleaner, but it was expensive until it was industrialised. And of course the greens have outlawed it with fears of death, despite it being the safest means of power generation mankind has ever discovered.

Then we discovered wind turbines (again) which are expensive, inefficient, and dirty, which is why we started burning stuff in the first place.

Are you absolutely certain there’s not another technology (other than elusive fusion) that can provide reliable energy again?

I know of at least one. But it’s expensive.

Clyde Spencer

While I tend to agree with you, I would suggest an alternative view. We will never completely exhaust fossil fuels, just severely deplete their abundance. So, it would be possible to duplicate the technology of today. They just wouldn’t be able to feed, clothe, and house as many people as now.

Bill Powers

Peak Oil and Peak Oil Demand are courses taught in Political Science and Philosophy Curriculum and should not be confused with real science courses. Prerequisite curriculum courses include: Organizing for donations, Anarchy for amateurs, Protest Sign Messaging, Marching for fun and profit…to graduate courses in: Protesting for maximum damage, How to politically strangle economies, Redirecting taxes to improve leaderships personal investment portfolios…I could go on and on as It is a lengthy curriculum with maximum Safe Zone protection.

Peak oil is the subject of study inside oil companies. But we won’t tell you much about what goes on.

Bill Powers

Get back to me when you master the concept of sarcasm.

Hubbert, 1956 is not locked in Shell’s vault.


Hilarious – sounds like a chapter of Oxford’s Gene Sharp Color Revolutions.


In 1943 Navy Secretary Frank Knox warned that at wartime consumption rates we’d run dry of oil by 1957; at peacetime rates 1963.

I think it works sort of like when you put your expensive camera close to chimps at the zoo, so you can take close ups. You can visit the zoo and take lots of pictures until one day a chimp grabs the camera, breaks the strap, and takes your photograph.


Too many continue to listen to Dr. Paul Erlichman and his ilk who are still on a payroll 50 years after their doom-and-gloom predictions which then were but 5 years away. Then ten years. Then 20 and 30. Now maybe at the end of the century. Time to fire them all!



Do you know how hard it was for me to hit the + button under the word “Ehrlich”?

don k

“and thus trends could be safely extrapolated based on the bell curve model.”

That’s the Hubbert Curve and it has a long and fascinating history. I don’t have time right now to write a 3000 word essay. Suffice it to say that when it was set forth by M King Hubbert in 1956 it was a hell of a step forward from what they were using to mis-estimate future petroleum resources. Nonetheless, it really only works well under rather restricted circumstances which tend to be the exception rather than the rule. I doubt that Hubbert — who was a very bright guy — would approve of most of the use of his curve, and he’d probably prefer they’d put someone else’s name on it.

William Astley

There are methane (CH4) seeps all over the ocean floor which supports the assertion that the source of hydrocarbons on the earth’s surface and the reason why 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water (the solar wind strips water out of the atmosphere so if there was no new source of CH4 into the atmosphere the earth would be a desert), is deep core CH4 that is extruded from the core as it solidifies.

(What I am saying above was discussed at the Sloan Deep earth conference.)

The super high-pressure liquid CH4 that is extruded from the core, is the source of the force that moves the ocean floor underneath the continents and that splits apart the continents.

P.S. The reason it took 30 years for the tectonic plate theory to be accepted is a back of the envelope calculation unequivocally supports the assertion that convection motion in the mantel cannot possibly explain the motion of the plates and cannot explain basic geological phenomena such as mountains or plateaus.

“Around the end of the first decade of dominance by plate tectonics, in 1975, the situation was described this way:

“In recent years, the kinematics of continental drift and sea-floor spreading have been successfully described by the theory of plate tectonics. However, rather little is known about the driving mechanisms of plate tectonics, although various types of forces have been suggested”14.

Seven years later, in 1982, the assessment was: “At the present time the geometry of plate movements is largely understood, but the driving mechanism of plate tectonics remains elusive”3.

By 1995 we find that: “In spite of all the mysteries this picture of moving tectonic plates has solved, it has a central, unsolved mystery of its own: What drives the plates in the first place? ‘[That] has got to be one of the more fundamental problems in plate tectonics,’ notes geodynamicist Richard O’Connell of Harvard University. ‘It’s interesting it has stayed around so long’ “25.

In 2002 it could be said that: “Although the concept of plates moving on Earth’s surface is universally accepted, it is less clear which forces cause that motion. Understanding the mechanism of plate tectonics is one of the most important problems in the geosciences”8.

A 2004 paper noted that “considerable debate remains about the driving forces of the tectonic plates and their relative contribution”40. “Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift died in 1926, primarily because no one could suggest an acceptable driving mechanism. In an ironical twist, continental drift (now generalized to plate tectonics) is almost universally accepted, but we still do not understand the driving mechanism in anything other than the most general terms”2.”

The oldest section of ocean floor is 200 million years old. A portion of the CH4 is left at the continental edge which explains why there are chains of mountains all on the edge of the continents.

The deep core source of CH4 explains why there is more carbon in Methane hydrates on the ocean floor than there are liquid hydrocarbon reserves and why the upper ocean is saturated with CH4.

Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern US Atlantic margin
Methane emissions from the sea floor affect methane inputs into the atmosphere1, ocean acidification and de-oxygenation2, 3, the distribution of chemosynthetic communities and energy resources. Global methane flux from seabed cold seeps has only been estimated for continental shelves4, at 8 to 65 Tg CH4 yr−1, yet other parts of marine continental margins are also emitting methane.

The US Atlantic margin has not been considered an area of widespread seepage, with only three methane seeps recognized seaward of the shelf break. However, massive upper-slope seepage related to gas hydrate degradation has been predicted for the southern part of this margin5, even though this process has previously only been recognized in the Arctic2, 6, 7.

Here we use multibeam water-column backscatter data that cover 94,000 km2 of sea floor to identify about 570 gas plumes at water depths between 50 and 1,700 m between Cape Hatteras and Georges Bank on the northern US Atlantic passive margin. About 440 seeps originate at water depths that bracket the up dip limit for methane hydrate stability.

Contemporary upper-slope seepage there may be triggered by ongoing warming of intermediate waters, but authigenic carbonates observed imply that emissions have continued for more than 1,000 years at some seeps. Extrapolating the upper-slope seep density on this margin to the global passive margin system, we suggest that tens of thousands of seeps could be discoverable.



There are mountain chains on the edges of continents because of subduction.

No CH4 need apply for that particular job.

William Astley

There was been an unexplained 200% increase in mid-ocean seismic activity period B for the entire planet as compared to period A. The changes in mid-ocean seismic activity highly correlated with the temperature changes in the period.

The earth’s mid-seismic activity has abruptly dropped back down to the lower activity in period B.

Period A: 1979 to 1995

Period B :1996 to 2016 (More than 200% increase in mid-ocean seismic activity)

The observed changes in mid-ocean seismic activity are orders of magnitude too large and too fast for all of the current geological mechanisms to explain. The observations are a hard paradox. (No possible alternatives, the solution is forced from the observations).

The assumed energy input for the mantel and core (radioactivity, material phase change, reactions) cannot physically change in that time scale/entire planet and even if they did change could not appreciably change temperatures to affect mid-ocean seismic activity for the entire planet.

It is physical impossible for the current standard geological model (and its assumptions) to explain the sudden and astonishingly large increase and decrease in mid-ocean seismic activity.

As noted in the paper below, increase in mid-ocean seismic activity closely correlates with ocean temperature changes for the entire period.


Two previous studies, The Correlation of Seismic Activity and Recent Global Warming (CSARGW) and the Correlation of Seismic Activity and Recent Global Warming: 2016 Update (CSARGW16), documented a high correlation between mid-ocean seismic activity and global temperatures from 1979 to 2016 [1,2]. As detailed in those studies, increasing seismic activity in these submarine volcanic complexes is a proxy indicator of heightened underwater geothermal flux, a forcing mechanism that destabilizes the overlying water column.

This forcing accelerates the thermohaline circulation while enhancing thermobaric convection [3-6]. This, in turn, results in increased heat transport into the Arctic (i.e., the “Arctic Amplification”), a prominent feature of earth’s recent warming [7-9]. .

there is a 95% probability that global temperatures in 2019 will decline by 0.47°C ± 0.21°C from their 2016 peak. In other words, there is a 95% probability that 2019 temperatures will drop to levels not seen since the mid-1990s.

This new data changes this discussion. The new data supports the assertions discussed at the Sloan Deep earth conference that the earth’s liquid core which is roughly the size of the moon, contains liquid CH4 in solution with nickel and iron is correct.

It is known that there must be significant percentage of light elements in the liquid core of the earth based on analysis of the velocity and timing of seismic wave movement through the earth.

As the liquid core is at saturation in terms of its ability to hold CH4, liquid CH4 is extruded at super high pressures when the liquid core solidifies.

The liquid core of the planet is believed to have started to crystallize roughly a billion years ago.

The extruded super high-pressure liquid CH4 that is released from the liquid core of the earth when it crystallizes is the explanation for many of the massive hydrocarbon deposits on the earth and is explanation massive methyl hydrate deposits on the ocean floor and why there is bubbling CH4 vents all over the ocean floor.

The super high-pressure liquid CH4 that is released from the earth’s core is the force that drives the tectonic plate movement.

The force to push the liquid CH4 to the surface of the planet is always there. How much mid-ocean seismic activity occurs is dependent on the rate of crystallization of the liquid core of the planet.

Prior to the observation that the mid-ocean earthquakes increased by 200%, the standard belief was that it is not physically possible for the frequency of earthquakes to increase by 200% for a long-term period.

It was believed that earthquake occurrence was/should be statistical (random, chaos).

Because: There is no mechanism could suddenly change to increase heating in the earth.

And even if there was a mechanism to increase heating in the earth: the heating would be regional, not for the whole earth.

And lastly even if there was a means to increase heating of the earth, heating changes to the earth due to the mass of the earth, would be very, very slow and changes would occur over long periods of time, not a ramp up of two years.


When and if crude prices return to high levels, coal to liquid fuel conversion becomes economical.


“Whatever happened to fears over “peak oil”?”

They peaked.


what does this have to do with the central point of this web site? “peak oil” was dubunked 20+ years ago. that fact has nothing to do with climate change.


I don’t know if people here have taken a good look at the BP statistical review of World energy 2018. It projects Peak Oil in 2021. A mere 3 years away.

I guess that qualifies as fears over Peak Oil by one of the most respected energy reports in the world. And BP is an oil company. They should know their trade.


Great! Then we’ll soon know whether BP’s guess will prove as wrong as all the others over the past century.

It all depends upon assumptions. Should crude return to $150 per barrel, as ten years ago, then no way will it peak in 2021.

BP didn’t project peak anything in 2021.


Starting first with consumption, oil demand grew by 1.7 Mb/d – similar to that seen in 2016 and significantly greater than the 10-year average of around 1.1 Mb/d. To put the recent strength of oil demand in context, average growth over the past five years is at its highest level since the height of the commodity super-cycle in 2006/7. This was despite all the talk of peak oil demand, increasing car efficiency, growth of electrical vehicles. All of those factors are real and are happening, but persistently low oil prices can have a very powerful offsetting effect.



Sorry, I thought the projection was from BP. The data for the projection is from BP. The projection is from an economics professor at the University of Utah.

Over 1/3 of global oil production is coming from post-peak producing countries. Only 9 large producers haven’t reached peak oil, and their combined production is a little less of 2/3. The decline rate of post-peak producers is being compensated by pre-peak producers, that also provide the growth in production. As the amount to be compensated grows due to depletion, and the demand for increase in production grows, the day when the capacity of pre-peak producers to increase their production won’t be sufficient to compensate both production decline by post-peak producers and global demand growth is approaching fast.

Using Hubbert linearization for producers that have a production that fits with confidence a Hubbert curve, and using BP 2018 reserves to estimate RRR and URR for the rest gives an estimate for Peak Oil in 2021.

Professor Minqi Li of economics



Peak oil is and always has been a huge joke, demonstrating a complete and utter ignorance of organic chemistry. Oil is simply a hydrocarbon of various lengths. Almost everything you use and eat is potential oil. Anything paper, plastic, organic can be turned into syngas and reconstructed to become a hydrocarbon fuel. The Fischer Tropsch Process is how it is done today at a commercially viable scale. It is the way SASOL made jet fuel in South Africa, and the NAZIs did in WWII.

Leo Smith

complete straw man.

Demonstrating a complete and utter ignorance of thermodynamics.

where is the energy going to come from to convert all this stuff into low entropy hydrocarbons?

Peak pixie dust.


With the thermodynamics of the PBMR – synthetic fuels are no problem with that kind of technology. Why try wind turbine thermodynamics ?

“Where oil is first found is in the minds of men” – Wallace Pratt, petroleum geologist, 1885-1981
The minds of men are still finding oil. The amount remaining is unknown and incalculable. Think about the problem. What are the unknowns?

1. The total amount of organic material produced on earth since more than 3.5 billion years ago.
2. The amount of that material that was buried in the ground and preserved until 1857 when the first oil well was drilled at Bend, northeast of Bucharest, on the Romanian side of the Carpathians.
3. The amount of hydrocarbons generated from the organic material.
4. The amount of oil and organic material destroyed by bacteria, weathering, ultra-deep burial, fires, etc., etc., etc.
5. The amount of organic material converted to oil and oil equivalents of gas.
6. What technology will be developed to recover the 80 percent of discovered oil not now producible.
7. The location, geometries, rock characteristics, of all reservoirs on earth from the surface to basement.

The interested student can complete the list, and then determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I still plan to discover a few billion of barrels of oil myself. That will be considerably easier than determining the amount of remaining oil reserves on earth.

Gotta love Wallace Pratt… but, a few billion bbl might be setting your sites a bit high.

William Astley

The following is an excerpt from Thomas Gold’s book the Deep Hot Biosphere which that outlines some of the observations which supports an abiogenic origin (non-biological, primeval origin), for petroleum and natural gas.

(1) 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.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) 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.

(5) 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.


The disciples of Gold’s one book show up here regularly. They have not found any oil, or read anything else as near as I can tell, but they are fervent if nothing else. The irony is that the current production boom is very well explained by the application of biotic origin, and exceedingly difficult to explain if all the hydrocarbon had to somehow come out of a deep source and selectively work its way into those organic shales. So be it: true believers will rave on.


Gold really did stir up a hornet’s nest. Oil was not his only focus, only part of really broad physics approach. His opposition to Lamaitre’s Big Bang for example.
The list of publications is wide ranging. This real is science at work.
“In short, Gold said about the origin of natural hydrocarbons (petroleum and natural gas): Hydrocarbons are not biology reworked by geology (as the traditional view would hold), but rather geology reworked by biology.”
He pulled the carpet out from under the peak oil crowd .


There should be an analysis of the involvement of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other green activists in the promulgation of this myth, and what political and regulatory benefits were obtained for the “cause” because of this process. Only then can those actions be identified, unwound and reversed.

Greenpeace was founded in 1969.

M. King Hubbert, a geologist with Shell, published his Peak Oil concept in 1956.

Clyde Spencer

Wasn’t Hubbert a geophysicist? He is also known for his work in scaling.

Back then, there was a serious distinction… but I think Hubbert’s title was something like Chief Consultant Geologist.

Hubbert’s title on his 1956 paper was Chief Consultant (General Geology)…


Clyde Spencer

Yes, but we all know that geologists aren’t good at math and Hubbert was! 🙂

According to Wikipedia, he worked as both a geologist and geophysicist, He taught geophysics at Columbia University.

Leo Smith

Nevertheless there is a finite amount of oil in the ground, ad the energy taken to extract it gets higher as you extract more of it.

Put those together and peak oil is inevitable some day.

Just that no one knows when that day will come

Reginald Vernon Reynolds

In the early 70s during the (manufactured) energy crisis Time Magazine ran an edition with the cover reading “No Oil by 1980”, what little respect I had for the mag or environmentalists went quickly down hill from there. They have never been right about anything since but that doesn’t deter them from printing and spouting ‘doom and gloom’ nonsense.


peak oil got a huge new car sales market for 4cyl toy cars
ozone got global salees of new household appliances and aircon in vehicles also
neither claim was truthful
ditto the warmist guff
ditto the overpop tale
Im sick of hearing “its the wolf its the wolf”
those responsible should have been named shamed and jailed


Has anybody noticed the little oil side-business in Helium? Where is that coming from in so-called biogenic petroleum with no known metabolic pathway?
Or are we to believe biogenic hydrocarbon is settled consensus?

Helium is the product of radioactive decay. Almost all natural gas which overlies granitoid basement has at least a trace of helium. Very few natural gas fields have commercial helium concentrations.
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Generally, helium is only trapped in gas resvervoirs which overlie granitoid rocks and are trapped by salt and/or anhydrite, which are among the few rock types capable of trapping helium.
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Dr. Strangelove

Automakers are so worried about peak oil they brought back the ’60s muscle cars

2017 Dodge Challenger SRT
supercharged 6.2-liter V-8
707 hp

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>>Simmons claimed that hearing the Saudi oil company used ‘fuzzy logic’ to model reservoirs convinced him they had problems, since he’d never heard of it.<<

OMG! How do these people get published?


@Dave said- Matt Simmons doesn’t know jack schist about reservoir engineering.
*I beg to differ. It seem Matt did his homework properly according to this excerpt from energy skeptic …
As Matthew Simmons searched for clues to the truth of the Saudi situation, he immersed himself in the minutiae of oil geology. He realized that data about Saudi fields might be found in the files of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Oil engineers, like most professional groups, have regular conferences at which they discuss papers that delve into the work they do. The papers, which focus on particular wells that highlight a problem or a solution to a problem, are presented and debated at the conferences and published by the S.P.E. — and then forgotten.
Before Simmons poked around, no one had taken the time to pull together the S.P.E. papers that involved Saudi oil fields and review them en masse. Simmons found more than 200 such papers and studied them carefully. Although the papers cover only a portion of the kingdom’s wells and date back, in some cases, several decades, they constitute perhaps the best public data about the condition and prospects of Saudi reservoirs.
Ghawar is the treasure of the Saudi treasure chest. It is the largest oil field in the world and has produced, in the past 50 years, about 55 billion barrels of oil, which amounts to more than half of Saudi production in that period. The field currently produces more than five million barrels a day, which is about half of the kingdom’s output. If Ghawar is facing problems, then so is Saudi Arabia and the entire world.
Simmons found that the Saudis are using increasingly large amounts of water to force oil out of Ghawar. Most of the wells are concentrated in the northern portion of the 174-mile-long field. That might seem like good news — when the north runs low, the Saudis need only to drill wells in the south. But in fact it is bad news, Simmons concluded, because the southern portions of Ghawar are geologically more difficult to draw oil from. ”Someday (and perhaps that day will be soon), the remarkably high well flow rates at Ghawar’s northern end will fade, as reservoir pressures finally plummet,” Simmons writes in his book. ”Then, Saudi Arabian oil output will clearly have peaked. The death of this great king” — meaning Ghawar — ”leaves no field of vaguely comparable stature in the line of succession. Twilight at Ghawar is fast approaching.” He goes on: ”The geological phenomena and natural driving forces that created the Saudi oil miracle are conspiring now in normal and predictable ways to bring it to its conclusion, in a time frame potentially far shorter than officialdom would have us believe.” Simmons concludes, ”Saudi Arabia clearly seems to be nearing or at its peak output and cannot materially grow its oil production.”
Minister of Future

Like I said, Matt Simmons doesn’t know Jack Schist about reservoir engineering.

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Oil production of Saudi Arabia (total) and the Ghawar field and the percentage of water cut in Ghawar 1993-2003. Ghawar production accounts for over half of annual Saudi crude. Water cut is the ratio of water to total liquids production from an oil field; in water-driven mature reservoirs water cut can reach up to 80-90 %. (Modified after A.M. Afifi, 2004 AAPG Distinguished Lecture; total oil production from BP Statistical Review of World Energy)


Data on Ghawar reported in the past issues of Oil & Gas Journal indicate that when Ghawar came on stream in 1951 it produced 126,000 bopd but production steadily rose with a major boost soon after the 1973 oil shock so that the field’s 1975 output was 4.2 MMbopd; this reached a maximum production of 5.7 MMbopd in 1981. From 1982-1990, the Saudis lowered their oil production for market considerations (most notably the oil crash of 1985) and thus Ghawar’s production was 2.5 to 3 MMbopd during that decade. A senior geologist with Saudi Aramco, A. M. Afifi, in his 2004 AAPG Distinguished Lecture, reported production values of 4.6-5.2 MMbopd for Ghawar from 1993 through 2003. These data indicate that 50-65% of Saudi Aramco’s oil production has traditionally come from Ghawar. Apparently, one half of Ghawar’s production (2.0 to 2.7 MMbopd) comes from the Ain Dar and Shedgum areas, while Uthmaniyah provides 1 MMbopd, and another million barrels or so comes from Hawiyah and Haradh combined.


1993-2003 Ghawar production 4.6-5.2 mmbo/d, water cut 25-35%

2006 Twilight in the Desert

2017 Ghawar production 5.8 mmbo/d

Ghawar is about half-depleted… Only another 75 billion bbl left to go.

The giant Ghawar field is the world’s largest oil field in terms of production and total remaining reserves. The Ghawar field has an estimated remaining proved oil reserves of 75 billion barrels,[8] more than the reserves of all but seven other countries.


Peak Gwahar may be at hand… And it’s just as irrelevant as Peak Oil.


Simmons found that the Saudis are using increasingly large amounts of water to force oil out of Ghawar.

No schist Sherlock. That’s how waterfloods work.

Waterfloods work by replacing voidage…

The principal reason for waterflooding an oil reservoir is to increase the oil-production rate and, ultimately, the oil recovery. This is accomplished by “voidage replacement”—injection of water to increase the reservoir pressure to its initial level and maintain it near that pressure. The water displaces oil from the pore spaces, but the efficiency of such displacement depends on many factors (e.g., oil viscosity and rock characteristics). In oil fields such as Wilmington (California, US) and Ekofisk (North Sea), voidage replacement also has been used to mitigate additional surface subsidence. In these cases, the high porosity of the unconsolidated sandstones of the Wilmington oil field’s reservoirs and of the soft chalk reservoir rock in the Ekofisk oil field had compacted significantly when the reservoir pressure was drawn down during primary production.



I have a ‘peak oil’ anecdote to add.

During the Deepwater Horizon event I discovered live feeds of video from the underwater ROV’s doing the physical labor on the seafloor. The feeds were hosted on a website called “The Oil Drum”. I was fascinated with the feeds and spent a lot of time watching. Whenst the capping was complete and the feeds stopped I finally looked around the site. It was a peak oil crowd old enough to have their own estimates repeatedly surpassed. The peak oil sceptics politely facted them into lethargy. The proprietor of the forum froze it in place a year or so later and left it up for posterity.

Reply to Leo Smith,
I’d add Earths kinetic energy to the list of harvestable sources. The rotational energy can be harvested by tethered satellites. See ‘NASA STS-75’ for more info.
When the rotation slows enough to make a day a year we can exploit the difference between day and night sides. When we start harvesting orbital energy we will also move closer to the source.
We live on a ball of molten metal so large the center is solid due to gravity. We can and do harvest some of that energy. What would happen if the insulating crust were not there? It is at risk of occasional piercing.

All use of stored energy adds heat to something.
I am NOT of the opinion that we should ‘bury ourselves in the wreckage of our future’ though.
Exploitation of stored energy appears to happen along with voluntary population decline among free men. The sooner we have a large majority of free men with a basic education, clean water, and electricity on the planet the better. I advocate exploiting stored energy to achieve that goal.


The proprietor of the forum froze it in place a year or so later and left it up for posterity.

Fortunately, LLOG didn’t… https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/10/20/deepwater-horizon-epillog/

Thomas Johnson

I have commented elsewhere about peak oil. I learned about peak oil in the 9th grade, some 64 years ago. All the oil fields have been discovered at that time, and we would soon run out of fuel. This would lead to nuclear winter when the bombs fell. That was what was in the texts then.
Pres Obama told us there was no more oil and we would have to go renewable. Oops. Now we are exporting oil.
Every time someone declares something OVER it turns out not to be over.
That has been happening for a very long time.


eddie willers

Peak oil was predicted not long after Drake sunk his well in Pennsylvania. As Dave Barry sez, “I am not making that up”.