Energy Independence and the Myth of Peak Oil

Comments (14)

  1. Tony says:

    “And Hubbert used it to predict that oil production would peak by the early 1970s.”

    Actually, he predicted in 1956 that US oil production would peak in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s time frame. Which the Oil companies vehemently denied. It peaked in 1970. So he was right, oil companies were wrong.

    In 1974 he predicted that global oil production would peak in 1995. But global both future global usage and reserves are harder to calculate than they were for the United States only.

    But it is ridiculous to call the peaking of global oil production a theory. Even the optimists, like the United States Geological Survey think it will peak. And surprisingly, given the horrible consequences of it, they seem unconcerned, even though their peak is well within the lifetime of most Americans living today – the early 2030’s.


    monk Reply:

    Also, in one interview, Hubbert said that global oil production would peak in 1995 + 10 years. He also got that right.


  2. Mike says:

    Right on, Tony. When Louis has to grossly misrepresent Hubbert’s actual statement in order to make his own (flimsy) case, he simply exposes the bankruptcy of his own thinking. Readers: Hubbert’s 1956 paper is here:

    He not only discusses, plainly and forthrightly, the vagueness of making future predictions, but his actual prediction for US–not world, Louis, US–production is accurate. And as data on reserves and production for the rest of the world is far vaguer than for the US, then, predictions for the whole world are accordingly harder to make.

    However, oil production hasn’t increased markedly since 2005, while prices have spiked and stayed high. Coal production and use has increased. Those are two pretty significant signs that Hubbert was in fact correct.

    Louis, I encourage you do do some research on this. Your knowledge is insufficient.


  3. Antonio says:

    Hubbert was wrong when he predicted US oil would peak in 1965. US oil would have never peaked around 1971 if not for US government freakout over the Santa Barbara offshore spill. The regulation tsunami suppressed the industry for decades.


  4. says:

    Let’s be careful not to confuse total energy with oil. Oil is used is something like 90% of US transportation needs. Switching to natural gas or coal-to-liquids would require enormous capital costs in transforming our existing vehicle fleet AND significant additional cost per unit of fuel energy. We now produce little more than half of the liquid based energy in the US that we produced in 1970. So our dependence on imported oil is not going to change significantly in the near future.


  5. jkuper says:

    Wow Louis, do you even care about your readership or your own reputation? You can’t even cite correctly what Hubbard actually predicted in the 1950’s and then you use your own misinformed (or outright lying) statement to say that Hubbard was wrong.

    I don’t know if you are simply ignorant regarding his prediction or if you intentionally misstated it but it undermines the entire article. Of course, denying peak oil is a pretty dumb position to take in the first place. In it’s most simplest terms peak oil is merely the observation that oil is a finite resource and that when oil production is graphed that there will be a a year in which production will max out. It doesn’t say that oil is running out when you hit the peak. It doesn’t say that the economy will crash after the peak (there is wide disagreement within the peak oil community on what the likely effect will be).

    So unless you believe that oil is infinite and that oil production, when plotted on a graph, will have some other likely shape other than a bell curve, then you (as we should all be) are a peak oiler.

    Nothing personal but your readers deserve better.


  6. Brian Morrissey says:

    Production spiked and tapered off in 2008 because the available supply DID peak. The production of shale wasn’t ready for prime time. Now that the price is economical for a boom in Alberta and shale is taking the stage, you gloat. But without ONE mention of the words, “depletion rates.” Shale oil well depletion as much as 75% in the first year – meaning heavy drilling and capital investment for much lower flow than the days of Spindletop and Gawar.

    Nice job in putting the pacifier back in the baby’s mouth. But some oaf is still going to stumble into the room and turn on the light.


  7. Brian Morrissey says:

    How does a Chief Investment Strategist avoid mentioning the marginal price and return on investment – the return on investment! – of all this new production? You only have the word “price” in this article once. I guess I can’t fault you. Neither does the IEA report. Tell you what, I’ll book mark this, put a note in my calendar, and come back in 18 months and we’ll talk about how production and the economy is going. Ciao.


  8. Spec says:

    Let us do a thought experiment. Let’s say that the dirt beneath you and the oceans and the mountains and EVERYTHING is made of oil. Would we hit peak oil eventually then? Yes. Of course, the earth is a sphere and sphere has a finite volume, thus even if everything were made of oil, you’d eventually run out. The only question is when will it happen.


  9. ant says:

    Arguing the futility of exponential growth in the light of finite resources to an economist is like teaching a dog about quantum physics.


  10. em says:

    I feel like peak oil dooms dayers tend to bring up the exponential growth in oil consumption that exceeds production. I feel like this article could use some data on global consumption verses production increases in-order to full address the peak oil argument. The chart on US consumption as a % of production seems to address energy independence rather than availability over all. I would like to see production and consumption as separate values in a side by side comparison which demonstrates the curve of each.


  11. Bill Johnson says:

    The same folks that deny this problem will say, “Now’s not the time for recriminations” when fossil fuel production falls off.


  12. Schuyler Hupp says:

    As a scientific theory, Peak Oil is very robust. It rests upon a great deal of hard data, with a long history of successful predictions. But giving credance to Peak Oil on theoretical grounds is not necessary. That a finite resource will eventually become exhausted over time if it is consumed at a steady or even increasing rate is axiomatic; it is a simple fact. Those who actually understand the concept of Peak Oil would also know that long before such resources as oil or coal for example, actually “run out”, they will become uneconomical. Where the real debate comes in is in trying to predict exactly when a particular finite mineral resource (e.g. oil, coal, copper, phosphorus, etc. ) will reach that threshold of becoming uneconomical to produce. Estimating conservatively, that Peak Oil might come sooner than later, is to everyone’s benefit in the long run, since it would allow for a smoother transition from one resource base to the next, along with related technologies and infrastructures. Aside from the present wide scale lack of requisite knowledge and understanding, a big problem with Peak Oil is that people are not naturally inclined toward long term economic planning, but rather they are more concerned with the short term implications, that a transition away from oil, for example, would require abandoning current investments in favor of developing new ones. Such a transition, away from oil in favor of something more sustainable, would require creativity, adaptation, hard work, and would possibly result in a great deal of wealth and influence changing hands. So aside from simple ignorance, the psychology of prior investment is a big part of the challenge. There are other concepts that are evern more essential, in relation to long term economic health than Peak Oil, such as the fact that energy is the most essential ingredient of any economy, that net benefit or Energy Return On Energy Invested is the most important aspect of energy resources, or that economies are a subset of natural systems, and so on. Peak Oil is real, and it is a subset of the most important thing of all, with regard to human prosperity: Energy.


  13. Jim Kay says:

    It is by chance that I discovered this 2012 article only recently. I’m not an energy expert and I’m not an economist, nor am I a technology expert. The Louis Basenese article simply does not grasp some key notions of Dr. Hubbert’s Peak Oil premise, one of them being that oil is a finite resource. To read, in the article, that the world oil supply is not being depleted upon its being extracted and used up, is the “dumbest” thing I have ever seen in an article—in a purportedly credible publication, written by a purportedly learned person—it is sharply reminiscent of other people saying that global warming is also a myth.

    I would hate to think that the author was trying to present himself as being more erudite than Dr. Hubbert, or that he was in need of being a sensationalist. In either case, he has failed, miserably.

    If we can accept the article’s Yogi Berra quote, which suggests that what one thinks is not as significant as what one does, the motivations for the author having said such foolishness, are not important. Dr. Hubbert expressed his thoughts clearly. Even a barnyard turkey can clearly grasp the significance of what was being said: it is readily apparent that Mr. Basenese could not.

    It is, therefore, not unreasonable to suggest that if Louis Baseneser wishes to recoup his lost credibility, he should brush-up on his English, especially in the realm of reading-comprehension, and then publicly apologize to Dr. Hubbert’s memory.


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