Skip to comments.'Peak oil' doomsayers fall silent as reserves grow ever larger
Posted on 04/12/2007 12:07:08 PM PDT by grundle
OTTAWA You will have noticed the marked decline these days in the number of "peak oil" people making cataclysmic pronouncements. Global oil production set records throughout 2006 -- for all-time highest production day, month, quarter and year. For the single-year record, production reached 31.3 Gb (billion barrels), an average of 85.2 million barrels a day. Affirming the trend, production set a new global single-day record before the end of January, 2007.
Along with record-setting production came record-setting increases in reserves -- moving "peak oil" deeper into the century and ultimately beyond.
The "peak oil" hypothesis, relentlessly propounded for decades, holds that the world has passed (or will momentarily pass) the highest point it can ever reach in oil production -- at the halfway mark in the depletion of global oil resources. It holds that this imminent peak necessarily marks the start of an irreversible decline in production. It holds, in other words, that the end of oil is nigh. The principal problem is that the hypothesis is demonstrably wrong -- and is vigorously proven wrong year after year.
In 1979, the "life-index" of global oil reserves was calculated as 35 years -- suggesting, superficially, that known oil reserves could support the current level of production only through 2007. In 2003, after decades of accelerated production, this index had risen to 40 years. It has now risen further to 45 years -- moving us safely through mid-century. Indeed, the record-setting oil production last year marked the umpteenth consecutive year that "peak oil" theorists have found it necessary once again to run the numbers and once again to postpone the end time of oil.
It was in 1989 that Colin Campbell, the prominent Irish champion of "peak oil," proclaimed that the global peak had already occurred -- a declaration he found it expedient, almost immediately, to amend; "peak oil," he said, would instead occur in 1995. He now opts for 2010. Yet global oil production, since 1989, has risen by 20 per cent (13.8 million barrels a day), global oil supply by 28 per cent (18.9 million barrels a day).
The production records set last year were significant for a number of other "peak oil" prophets, including Marion King Hubbert himself, the American geophysicist who devised "peak oil" analysis in the mid-fifties and who accurately predicted that U.S. oil production would peak in 1979. In 1956, he determined that global oil would peak "in about 50 years" -- in other words, 2006. At the pinnacle, he said, the world would consume 12 Gb of oil a year.
In 2004, Mr. Campbell increased this number, almost doubling it, to 23 Gb. For his part, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has held that oil would peak at 30 Gb -- a level exceeded last year.
Yet the world's most comprehensive measure of oil resources keeps right on growing -- higher, yes, but at a faster pace as well. TrendLines, the Canadian statistical research company, confirms this assertion in its February report on URR -- "ultimate recoverable reserves." In an analysis of optimum reserves, TrendLines concludes that the world's URR is now increasing, depending on the period you select for comparison, at twice or thrice its historical pace. From 1957 through 2006, it says, URR grew at an average annual rate of 2.4 per cent.
From 1979, it grew at an average annual rate of 4.2 per cent. From 2000, it grew at an average annual rate of 6 per cent. "Peak oil" prophet Mr. Campbell, TrendLines says, has underestimated the actual rise in URR by tenfold.
In 2000, the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) calculated that global URR would increase by 2.4 per cent a year for the foreseeable future -- rising from 1,669 billion barrels in 1995 to 3,345 billion barrels in 2025. (A billion barrels -- one Gb -- is roughly the amount of oil that the U.S. keeps in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.) "Peak oil" proponents dismissed the USGS analysis as impossibly optimistic. As with all apocalyptic manifestations, peaks must necessarily be imminent. Yet the forecast has proven significantly understated.
Driven by smart technology, global URR now increases each year at unprecedented rates. It has now (December, 2006) reached 3,288 Gb, not far off the USGS calculation for 2025. It increased last year by 114 Gb, compared with a historical annual average increase of 47 Gb. Sustained at this rate for another 20 years, the world's ultimately recoverable oil could increase by another two-thirds to 5,568 Gb, or three times the resource when "peak oil" proclamations began. Assuming consumption of 30 Gb a year, this URR could sustain production for something approaching 200 years. Once again, the end is not nigh.
There are a lot of places we haven’t even looked for oil. Who knows how much lies under Antarctica?
“The problem is that we hit peak-intelligence about 30 years ago.” Bill Wattenberg(only conservative KGO radio host)
200,000 holes drilled in USA vs 2000 drilled in Saudi Arabia.
Oil Shale included in this?
The reserves are not growing. The known reserves MIGHT be growing.
I should paste this article over at “The Oil Drum” site and stir the hornet’s nest. That mutual admiration society of doomers would hit the roof, er...peak of angst.
Oil today was created by a large biomass in ancient times, a VERY large biomass. This biomass was created by a large amount of co2 in the atmosphere, called today GLOBAL WARMING!!!
Al Gore is complaining about a system that has worked for millions of years.
Being dependent upon a nonrenewable resource which production is controlled by unstable, unfriendly govts for over 100 years is ridiculous in today’s fast-moving technological age.
“The reserves are not growing. The known reserves MIGHT be growing.”
I will have to do some digging to find the article, but the theory about oil being true fossil fuel is also on its way out. Oil is now being recovered in strata of the earth that have never been part of the surface. There is a new theory that holds oil may be a byproduct of processes going on near the mantle junction that are refilling old depleted oil fields. Too busy at work now, but I will post when I dig the story back up.
“Being dependent upon a nonrenewable resource which production is controlled by unstable, unfriendly govts for over 100 years is ridiculous in todays fast-moving technological age.”
As soon as that fast-moving technology produces energy/fuel as cheap as oil, oil will start to lose market share and disappear as a fuel. Of course, 25% of oil use is non-fuel in nature, so there will be demand for oil for quite some time yet.
“As soon as that fast-moving technology produces energy/fuel as cheap as oil, oil will start to lose market share and disappear as a fuel. Of course, 25% of oil use is non-fuel in nature, so there will be demand for oil for quite some time yet.”
How much oil is still used for providing electrical power? That’s what I’m pondering at the moment? Hopefully not too much... What I’d love to hear is that the only way to prevent global warming is to switch all our power generation to nuclear plants.
Reminder to self to check back.
Please, that ridiculous theory by Thomas Gold has been posted here regularly since this forum's inception. It's not true.
Reminds me of the only episode of “The Lone Gunmen” X-Files spinoff I watched.
Someone created a zero-point energy machine that could be used in cars or anywhere. The inventor died, but his surviving wife decided not to let the world have it because it would use plastics/oil to produce it.
I never could watch it after that.......
Of course. 95% of them don't understand the Peak Oil Hypothesis and when it didn't seem to be happening fast enough went chasing other rainbows. Of the critics, none understand the hypothesis, which some continue to demonstrate.
Very much so.
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