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Posts tagged “peak oil”

By Robert Rapier on Mar 28, 2017 with 58 responses

The Peak Oil Estimate You Won’t Believe: A Tale Of Two Sigmoids


Over the years, I have often pondered what the world’s ultimate oil production might be before it peaks and inevitably declines. I can recall around 2005-2007 on the website The Oil Drum, that there was a raging debate about just how close the world was to peak oil. Some insisted that it was happening right then. Others, like myself, were in the camp that we still had a few more years and a few more million barrels per day (BPD) of production to go. Those who thought the world would ever reach 100 million BPD were definitely in the minority.

Today I bring you a post from returning guest Todd “Ike” Kiefer who makes an oil production estimate that is far beyond anything I would have personally imagined. He takes on a topic that I have also addressed in the past – the accuracy of some of M. King Hubbert’s estimates. Some will dismiss Kiefer’s estimate out of hand, but I can say from experience that most who dismiss these estimates haven’t done any sort of rigorous estimates to come up with their own estimates. They will just say things like “keep dreaming.” That’s not a very helpful approach. If you disagree with the work, please critique the logic and the numbers.

Previously Mr. Kiefer wrote an article critical of the Navy’s efforts to promote biofuels in a periodical that is sent to Congress and top military leaders. The article was entitled Energy Insecurity: The False Promise of Liquid Biofuels (discussed here). He also wrote guest articles here in the past called EPA’s Sleight of Hand on Cellulosic Fuel Rule Change and A Critical Review of the 2015 Energy Balance for Corn Ethanol. His biography can be found at the end of the article. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 16, 2016 with 7 responses

Where Hubbert Went Really Wrong On Peak Oil

If you happen to be interested in the topic of “peak oil”, you almost certainly know the name M. King Hubbert. While you may know that Hubbert is widely credited with accurately predicting the peak of U.S. oil production, you may not know the full context of his predictions — which are legendary in peak oil circles.

The history of the scientific study of peak oil dates to the 1950s, when Hubbert, a Shell geophysicist, reported on studies he had undertaken regarding the production rates of oil and gas fields. In a 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels, Hubbert suggested that oil production in a particular region would approximate a bell curve, increasing exponentially during the early stages of production before eventually slowing, reaching a peak when approximately half of a field had been extracted, and then going into terminal production decline.

A peak in oil production, that is the maximum rate of production after which a field, country, or the world as a whole begins to decline is at the core of the peak oil issue. A country is said to have peaked, or reached peak oil after it becomes apparent that oil production in the region is steadily declining year after year. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Sep 17, 2015 with 54 responses

Peak Oil is a Function of Oil Price

The Origins of Peak Oil Awareness

The scientific study of peak oil began in the 1950′s, when Shell geophysicist M. King Hubbert reported on the evolution of production rates in oil and gas fields. In a 1956 paper Hubbert suggested that oil production in a particular region would approximate a bell curve, increasing exponentially during the early stages of production before eventually slowing, reaching a peak when approximately half of a field had been extracted, and then going into terminal production decline.

Hubbert applied his methodology to oil production for the Lower 48 US states and offshore areas. He estimated that the ultimate potential reserve of the Lower 48 US states and offshore areas was 150 billion barrels of oil. Based on that reserve estimate, the 6.6 million barrels per day (bpd) extraction rate in 1955, and the 52.5 billion barrels of oil that had been previously produced in the US, Hubbert’s base case estimate was that oil production in the US would reach maximum production in 1965. He also estimated that global oil production would peak around the year 2000 at a maximum production rate of 34 million bpd. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on May 9, 2014 with 44 responses

How Fossil Fuels Subsidize Us

Meet Nate Hagens

A good friend of mine said something to me the other day that I thought was profound. Nate Hagens is a former editor for The Oil Drum, and has written and lectured extensively on the risks of resource depletion. Nate holds a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. In his previous life Nate was a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers.

Today Nate sits on the Board of Directors of Bottleneck Foundation, Post Carbon Institute, Institute for Study of Energy and Our Future, and Institute for Integrated Economic Research — and he farms in Wisconsin. He described his personal journey from Wall Street to Wisconsin in one of the last articles ever published on The Oil Drum: Twenty (Important) Concepts I Wasn’t Taught in Business School.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies

We were discussing the topic of fossil fuel subsidies on Facebook. The background is that two years ago I wrote an article for Forbes called The Surprising Reason That Oil Subsidies Persist: Even Liberals Love Them. The article is neither a defense of subsidies, nor a dig at liberals, but it became the most highly read article ever on Forbes Energy Source. Today the article still generates some rabid comments, often by people who obviously didn’t take the time to read much beyond the title before offering their opinion on the article. I had just responded to a recent comment and posted that comment to Facebook, and thus began the discussion. CONTINUE»

By Lou Gagliardi on Feb 19, 2013 with 6 responses

Global Peak Oil Production — Where to Invest and Profit

Let’s build upon last week’s long-term bullish case for crude oil. Much has been said about, “Global Peak Oil” production in the last few years, and probably for good reason. We know that U.S. crude oil production peaked in the early 1970s just as Mr. King Hubbert predicted back in the late 1950s.

But, is peak global oil production just around the corner?

Energy industry analysts believe that global oil production will peak sometime between 2015 and 2025. That sounds like a fairly broad range. However, the reality is that it’s a fairly short timeframe in geologic time that does not even register a notch, and it’s rapidly coming upon us.

(Read More: Five Misconceptions About Peak Oil)

I’m not a forecaster, but I have studied oil supply and demand for the last 20 years, and I do believe that global crude oil production has reached a plateau, and may very well peak sooner than we think.

global wellhead production

Why? For one thing, on average, the global natural decline rate of producing wells is roughly 7% plus or minus 1% or 2%. That means production has to grow at least 8% a year to register a net positive increase.


By Robert Rapier on Jan 22, 2013 with 12 responses

The Amazing Reversal of the US Oil Industry

A few years ago, I made the observation that the best thing that could happen to mitigate against some of the potentially severe consequences of peak oil was for oil prices to rise, and remain high in the years before oil production peaked. That would have the effect of encouraging conservation, as people adapted to a world in which oil is no longer cheap. High oil prices would also incentivize oil production, which would have the effect of preventing steep declines in global oil production — which some had predicted would lead to severe economic crisis or possibly economic collapse.

We have certainly seen both conservation and increased oil production, but I have been really surprised by some of the details of how it has happened.

For example, as oil prices raced to $100, consumption in the US and Europe declined as I expected. But consumption in all developing regions increased sharply — so much so that the net impact was for global consumption to increase.

(Read More: Petroleum Demand in Developing Countries)

I didn’t expect this; rather I expected that we would see oil consumption decline across the board.


By Robert Rapier on Sep 30, 2012 with 22 responses

Hofmeister: A Difficult Decade Ahead For Oil Prices and Supplies

Potential for Expansion of Global Oil Production

I, along with my editor Sam Avro, recently conducted a broad-ranging interview with John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil. The topics touched upon included future oil supplies and prices, climate change, U.S. energy policy, and topics familiar to R-Squared Energy readers such at Peak Lite and the Long Recession.

I will present this interview in a series of stories covering some of the various topics. In this first story, I will discuss Mr. Hofmeister’s detailed answer to the question, “What do you feel is the potential for expanding global oil production, and the time frames?”

Readers my recall that I have put forth a pair of hypothesis with respect to future oil production and prices. One is called Peak Lite. (See also: Five Misconceptions About Peak Oil)


By CER News Desk on Sep 6, 2012 with 2 responses

Saudi Arabia May Run Out of Oil to Export by 2030

Saudi Arabia’s per capita oil consumption is higher than the U.S. and most developed countries

Long known as perhaps the most oil-rich country in the world, Saudi Arabia’s dwindling crude oil deposits could see that nation become an oil importer in less than 20 years, according to a a report compiled by Citigroup Inc.

With the country’s peak rates of electricity production growing at up to eight percent per year and with oil and its derivatives used to generate about 50 percent of the power used by its own citizens, the bank warns that Saudi Arabia could find itself without the crude oil needed to keep its young and relatively wealthy population stocked with energy, forcing it to import the fuel from other nations as soon as the year 2030.


By Robert Rapier on Aug 23, 2012 with 9 responses

Interview On My Energy Positions After ASPO 2011

Following last year’s ASPO conference, I was interviewed by Aaron Wissner of Local Future, which is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to issues of energy, the environment, and sustainability. Aaron just made that interview available, and instead of an R-Squared Energy TV episode this week, I thought I would share this interview with readers.

Among other things, we discuss:

  • The reasons that I became interested in energy issues
  • My Long Recession hypothesis
  • The relationship between oil prices and recession
  • The importance of taking control of your personal energy consumption
  • Why lower oil consumption in the U.S. didn’t lead to lower oil prices
  • The climate change challenge


By Robert Rapier on Jul 12, 2012 with 10 responses

Enough Oil to Fry the Planet? — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 25

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I discuss the recently released paper by former Eni executive Leonardo Maugeri — in which he suggests global oil supplies will increase by 17 million barrels per day by the end of the decade — as well as George Monbiot’s highly publicized reaction to the report.