Peak oil

Remembering "Peak Oil" Madness

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The peak oil mirage recedes further

In the quaint old days of the Aughts, the streets were clotted with peak oil prophets shouting that the end of civilization was nigh—the world's oil wells were fast running dry. Here's a 2007 representative quotation from a CNN report:

The world has reached the point of maximum oil output and production levels will halve by 2030—a situation that will eventually lead to war and disaster, a report claims.

The German-based Energy Watch Group released a report Tuesday saying the world's oil production peaked in 2006 and from now on will drop by around 3 percent a year. It says that by as early as 2030, the global availability of oil will be half of what it was at its peak.

What a difference a few years makes. The end is no longer nigh notes an item on future oil production in the winter issue of Harvard's Belfer Center newsletter:

Oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries    at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020—possibly prompting a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices.

This was the conclusion reached by Belfer Center researcher Leonardo Maugeri following his field-by-field analysis of the world's major oil formations and exploration projects….

Contrary to some predictions that world oil production has peaked or will soon do so, Maugeri projects that output should grow from the current 93 million barrels per day to 110 million barrels per day by 2020, the biggest jump in any decade since the 1980s. What's more, he says, this increase represents less than 40 percent of the new oil production under development globally.

For more background tracing peak oil soothsaying see also, my columns, Peak Oil Panic (2006), and Political Peak Oil (2007), and blogpost, Peak Oil Revisited, (2009).

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76 responses to “Remembering "Peak Oil" Madness

  1. Government will just have to regulate it out of existence.

    1. Like coal.

      1. A far better alternative to oil and coal polluting human beings out of existence.

    2. If only the US government would stick to what they do best – blow trillions of dollars on military equipment with borrowed money.

  2. Combined with a lot of users switching to fracked gas, energy could be incredibly cheap in the future.

    Assuming the government doesn’t fuck it up, which it will.

    1. I think, at this point, libertarians should just propose BuSab during the next stimulus and really test whether the statists will vote for any government expansion that “creates” jobs.

      1. Now there is some checks and balances.

    2. What are you saying they are going to switch to fracked gas from?

  3. We’ll never hit Peak Stupid.

    1. They just tapped another well in D.C.!

      1. God help us, they’re all gushers up there.

    2. Not as long as Chony Krugnuts and Shrieking Idiot are still alive, at least.

    3. We’ll never hit Peak Stupid.

      “If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead – and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.”

    4. The comments on this blog are proof of that.

  4. Oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020?possibly prompting a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices.

    Good to know. While the entire nation was screaming “Recovery” we here on the West Coast have been suffering under $4+ a gallon prices which dropped only recently.

    1. California pays higher gas taxes which makes their pump prices higher, but the price of California gasoline still goes up and down with the prices in the rest of the country.

  5. Is that “Palin’s Buttplug” under a sheet in that Peak Oil graphic?

    1. shrike| 4.18.08 @ 4:11PM

      Peak Oil is a fact, unless you claim that oil “spontaneously generates” – which puts you in the Young Earth Creationist nut sub-class. (the GOP would have sufficed)…..

      Its just a matter of “when”.

      and

      shrike| 4.18.08 @ 4:19PM

      Let’s put it this way, MikeP.

      Cheap Oil is a relic.

      last one:

      shrike| 4.18.08 @ 4:35PM

      Pinette.

      Oil production will struggle along at +/- 10% of capicity.

      Demand is only going up!

      I am not a “dieoff” guy – I am an investor.

      Bush shitting on the dollar, war x 2, and demand means that crude is headed higher.

      1. Ahahahahaha, hasn’t he been talking up “$50 a barrel” oil lately or was that another troll?

        1. That’s especially rich, given his

          BushObama shitting on the dollar, war x 2, and demand means that crude is headed higher.

          To be fair, I don’t know that demand is really doing much, given our stagcession, but dollar debasement is much worse, and the Mideast much more unstable, than it was under Chimpy.

          1. If Bush was ChimpyMcHitlerBurton, does that make Obama JugheadMcStalinDra?

      2. I haven’t figured out how much of the current price of oil since the 80’s (roughly when I started caring) is inflation. But I think it’s “a fair bit”.

        I watch the price of a barrel of oil v gold. silver, other commodities.

        It hasn’t tracked…

        Poor shriek 🙂

      3. The problem is, saying that peak oil is inevitable is a cop-out statement in that it’s technically true, but disingenuous.

        Of course it will happen eventually, but you know damn well that when you’re fear-mongering about it, you don’t mean “sometime in the 24th century”.

        1. We’re also going to run into peak sunlight.

        2. Peak Oil is absolutely meaningless. If in the next 30 years someone managed to develop / discover something better than oil, then we’d probably just let that shit sit in the ground. So, did we hit “Peak” then or what?

          I don’t understand Peak Oil at all.

          1. Peak oil is the Rapture for enviromentalists. The only thing that could be better would be a day when Tuvalu or Nauru or Fiji sink beneath the waves.

            1. Environmentalists are not the people being vocal about peak oil. It is scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Disagree with them at your peril.

          2. I don’t understand Peak Oil at all.

            It’s just the modern re-enactment of the Neolithic Peak Flint.

            1. Yes, we all know the stone age ended because we ran out of rocks.

              1. The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of rocks, but the Oil Age will end because we ran out of oil. What exactly is the analogy?

            2. It is OK to claim that we will find a replacement for oil. But it would be more reassuring if you could point to what that was. And even more reassuring if you could show how that replacement would happen in the limited years left before the peak.

              1. People will figure something out. And if they don’t, not my problem. Statist solutions are the worst option. Energy is not an entitlement.

                1. I guess your idea is to wait as long as possible to start the “figure something out”.

              2. If we knew that, then it would have already happened. You do not know what now will be abundant and energy efficient enough to replace oil/

                1. What if there is no replacement other than electric trains? Should we wait until oil peaks to start building them?

          3. Peak oil refers to when you can no longer produce as much oil as you used to. And never will again. And for a good example of Peak World Oil look at Peak US Oil. United States oil production peaked in 1970. That was before we built the Alaskan pipeline.

            I repeat – US Oil production peaked in 1970. And before someone claims that is because Democrats won’t allow drilling someplace, it peaked in 1970 during a Republican administration that was followed by 6 more Republican administrations.

        3. you don’t mean “sometime in the 24th century”.

          PEAK DILITHIUM!

        4. Take the peak oil predictions of the U.S. government. It is still less than three decades away. And remember that the U.S. government predicted US peak in 1991. It peaked in 1970. They were wrong by over two decades in the past, but we were able to substitute foreign oil. When foreign oil peaks, we will have nothing to bail us out.

          With the government saying oil will peak in less than three decades, how long should we wait to take action? Should we keep dumping trillions on the Military-Industrial Complex for another 25 years and then switch to electric trains?

      4. “Peak Oil is a fact, unless you claim that oil “spontaneously generates” – which puts you in the Young Earth Creationist nut sub-class. (the GOP would have sufficed)…..

        Its just a matter of “when”.

        Is someone really disputing that quote? Randian – give us your argument as to why that above quote is incorrect.

        1. Judging by the number of posts you’ve made after almost everyone else has stopped reading this thread, you’re really fanatical about oil, aren’t you? Go stick some up your ass.

          1. I still have one dimwit reading my posts. And thanks kiddo.

  6. I’m more concerned about the Earth hitting Peak Temperature. Cause…glacial melting and teh carbons.

    On the other hand, I shall enjoy my beachfront property in Kansas.

    1. I went to the beach yesterday by Lake Michigan near Chicago. To cold to go swimming but a very nice walk.

      1. Yeah well don’t bring your prized miniature Bull Terrier….cuz Chicagos Elmer Dunphys are out hunting!

        http://www.myfoxchicago.com/st…..-exclusive

        1. So, what else is new.

          From the article

          Residents are also upset, not just because police shot a puppy they all knew, but also because the shooting occurred not far from a preschool, on a street where pedestrians including children could have been hurt.

          They also say that after shooting the dog, the officer put his gun back in his holster, and calmly finished writing the ticket for their van.

        2. While FOX 32’s Larry Yellen was interviewing the dog’s owners, two police officers drove by the home. 90 minutes later, they came back, asked why Phillips why he had contacted the media and gave him a ticket for not keeping Colonel on a leash.

          “They were giving us a ticket, three days after the fact,” says Phillips. “So I think they’re probably trying to cover their rear ends.”

          They also say that after shooting the dog, the officer put his gun back in his holster, and calmly finished writing the ticket for their van.

          RAGE. TAKING. OVER.

          Fuck the Chicago PD.

          1. Wow. It’s like they just don’t give a shit.

  7. Peak Retard is also quite a ways off.

    1. Its a renewable resource.

      “Tard all you want. We’ll make more!”

    2. Isn’t it stupid to talk about a finite exhaustible resource, one that we are highly dependent on, one that we are blowing through at record rates – peaking in production.

      Let’s be smart. Let’s drink some beer and bray about how much oil there is in the world. Let’s pretend too. Let’s pretend the United States didn’t peak in oil production in 1970. Let’s pretend that Mexico and the North Sea haven’t peaked. Let’s pretend water is oil.

  8. I’m more concerned about refining capacity than oil production.

  9. Libertarians will never truly be free until they stop being a front group for big oil.

    There is nothing libertarian about oil. There is nothing “free market” about oil. As an industry it is a hugely subsidized global cartel. As an energy source it is a disaster for the environment (what you guys call property or yet-unclaimed property).

    The IEA says production of conventional crude peaked in 2006. The most optimistic projections predict peak production around 2020. It’s quite rich to go around calling peak oil predictions alarmist when you guys are being absurdly, insanely pollyanish about every aspect of oil and environment.

    1. Failure to state an argument.

      1. I would have gone with “Too harpy-ie” myself.

      2. Funny from someone called Randian. Isn’t your preferred method to tell a long-winded fiction about a nonexistent universe and then say “and I mean it”?

      3. I guess you would have been happier if he had claimed oil wouldn’t peak until the 24th century like some other nattering nabob did.

    2. Excellent post. They are poking their heads in the sand pretending Peak Oil is hundreds of years away or that something will DEFINITELY appear to take it’s place before it does.

      “Hasn’t happened yet” Or “didn’t happen when some people predicted it would” is not a good argument for a finite exhaustible resource (on which our lifestyle heavily depends) not peaking in the near future.

  10. All of you chortling about how oil will never peak for hundreds of years need to check out when the OPTIMISTIC government analysts think oil will peak. It is less than three decades away. Are you all so old that you will be gone before then? Even before it peaks it will become more expensive as it becomes more harder to obtain a barrel of it – and because the CEOs have exported so many jobs to India and China – causing demand to soar even faster than the growing world population would have done on it’s own.

    As far as something magically appearing to bail us out – that would be a lot more likely if we admitted we have a problem rather than braying about how a finite exhaustible resource that we are so dependent on – won’t peak in production for centuries.

    1. *Yawn*. Markets, how do they work?

      1. It would actually entertain me very much to see people freak out about not being able to get something that doesn’t belong to them.

        1. You must like seeing the right wing fume about how Arab countries won’t sell them “their oil” as cheaply as they want it to be sold.

      2. When demand starts to exceed supply, prices go up. After your nap, check out this graph:

        http://media.treehugger.com/as…..-12423.jpg

    2. I don’t doubt the existence of peak oil. I doubt the existence of Peak Oil.

      To copy from the comment thread Randian referred to above…

      peak oil: The notion that oil is a limited resource and that therefore one day in the near or far future less oil will be produced than the day before.

      Peak Oil: The notion that peak oil will bring about the end of civilization as we know it.

      Peak Oil hysteria violates pretty much every economic precept you can name. Its most grievous error is in failing to understand that effects happen at the margins. The thought that a production peak would raise prices enough to collapse the entire economy depends on the fallacy that everyone will respond to a shock identically and equally. But — barring idiotic government action that forces everyone into such lockstep behavior — the reality is far different. Peak oil production means that oil production will decline in the future: It does not mean that it will instantaneously end. In actuality as prices rise, those at the high margin will move toward alternate sources of transportation energy, and those at the low margin will find alternatives to transportation. Those in the middle will suffer a higher price for oil, but will not suffer shortages.

      How does Peak Oil conflict with what is observed in society? Well, societies prefer not to collapse. Peak Oil effectively counts on them to collapse.

      1. You are making what is called a strawman argument. The vast majority of people talking about Peak Oil do not discuss society collapsing. They do discuss things getting worse.

        And you just outlined some of them getting worse. People having to take the bus to work rather than driving a car. People having to forego vacations due to the price of a plane flight going up above what they can afford.

        But oil is used to transport virtually all of our intranational freight. We have no electrified freight transport. We have no immediate plans for it. How long do you think it would take us to produce it?

        1. The vast majority of people talking about Peak Oil do not discuss society collapsing.

          Dude, click the links.

          But oil is used to transport virtually all of our intranational freight. We have no electrified freight transport. We have no immediate plans for it. How long do you think it would take us to produce it?

          And this is the kind of idiocy that people pushing Peak Oil spout. Shipping goods is pretty much the most efficient use of transportation fuel there is. Yet this is the one you worry about? Effects of resource depletion happen on the margin. Even if there is only half as much oil available in year X, trains and trucks will be getting it while the most sensible portions of the shipping network become electrified.

          Maybe I should have simply let Jordan’s brief version of my long comment stand alone.

          1. “Dude, click the links”

            Click on this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

            Note how economic collapse is not the focus of the article, or even a minor feature of the article. You should go there and update the article to reflect your opinion that Peak Oil is all about economic collapse. Use any links you want as references.

            “And this is the kind of idiocy that people pushing Peak Oil spout.”

            “Even if there is only half as much oil available in year X, trains and trucks will be getting it while the most sensible portions of the shipping network become electrified.”

            Yeah, just minor problems huh dude. Ration liquid fuel, and electrify “sensible portions”. Sounds like nothing to worry about at all.

            “Maybe I should have simply let Jordan’s brief version of my long comment stand alone.”

            I agree. A brief handwave is more effective in this case. Any recitation of the facts becomes problematic for the Everything Will Be Fine theory.

            1. You pointed me to a Wikipedia article on “peak oil”, not “Peak Oil”, and it still contained this quote from the DoE Hirsh report:

              The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.

              That’s two ‘unprecedented’s in two sentences!

              When I said click on the links, I meant links such as those that Ronald Bailey critiques in his referenced articles. But if you want concentrated links, a quick search yielded these. Note that these are about Peak Oil, not peak oil.

              Or you can simply go straight to the heart of the beast with the likes of this. Note that it, too, discusses “Peak Oil”, not Wikipedia’s “peak oil”.

              I found these by going back to my comments on the topic in this blog back in 2005. Maybe you weren’t around when Peak Oil was capitalized?

              1. So can I safely assume that Wikipedia has no entry for what your are defining as “Peak Oil”? And if they don’t have it, can we assume that it is only your personal opinion?

                But back to your comment about liking Jordan’s answer. He has no worries. But do you have no worries? You talk about rationing gas – making sure that freight transport gets it’s share. Sounds like something to worry about.

                You talk about electrifying part of the rail freight system. Is that an easy task, something we shouldn’t worry about? Where have we done it, how much did it cost, how long did it take?

                1. It’s not my opinion: It’s the opinion of the people who write the articles at those links. You will have to take it up with them why they haven’t authored the Wikipedia entry “Peak Oil (capitalized)”.

                  If you want some hysteria from the Times, you can see it here. The Gray Lady doesn’t capitalize.

                  You can see my opinion about that article in a comment thread here.

                2. I never said anything about rationing gas. The users who get it would pay higher prices for it, and those at the margins would find alternatives — as people at the margins always do. If rail transport is the most economically efficient user of fuel, then they will have fuel.

                  As for electrification of rail corridors, I am not an expert in that. Amazingly, I am not an expert in almost everything that people do. Yet somehow people do things that other people can take advantage of. Indeed, given how fuel efficient rail appears to be, maybe they won’t find it sensible to electrify.

                  Markets. How do they work?

  11. Yeah, doesnt seem like it was that long ago either dude.

    http://www.Anon-Hide.tk

  12. Maugeri’s data has been questioned here and in others:

    http://www.davidstrahan.com/blog/?p=1570

  13. I’ve come late to the peak oil party, just now starting to read the arguments for and against. One thing I’ve learned in all my years of reading opinion pieces, is that if one side of the argument consists entirely of name-calling, straw man arguments, and obvious nonsense, then that side is almost certainly wrong. And every argument I’ve seen against the peak oil contentions has been name-calling, straw man arguments, and obvious nonsense.

    This Bailey piece probably contains some nonsense (see Ralfy’s link above which pretty much neutralizes the Maugeri piece), but for the most part it is a straw man argument. Peak Oil is essentially about the “what” and not the “when”. Bailey implies it is all about the when (“peak oil doomsayers said the collapse starts next week!!”), shows some data that indicates that they were wrong about the when (the peak may not be until 2030 or even later!!) and then concludes that we can therefore ignore the peak oil topic entirely and move on.

    With the possible exception of “Is there a god?”, this is literally the most important topic in the world. It’s possible that humanity will avoid a complete catastrophe, but it’s far from a sure thing. There needs to be lots of serious discussion about it. But only one side is serious. The other side is all smug name-calling, and “we’ll be fine for another decade or two, so who cares?”. Anyone who has kids under age 30, or who has an empathy for human suffering (future AND present) needs to care A LOT.

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