Remembering "Peak Oil" Madness


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).