Reviews of the Bartlett Energy Conference

Update [2005-9-27 10:59:52 by Super G]: Rep. Roscoe Barlett (R-MD) held a conference on peak oil last weekend. Excerpts from the conference were aired on C-SPAN last night. We were fortunate to have some TODers in attendance. Donal was nice enough to compile his observations in to a review, which you can check out below the fold (review compiled from comments here).

JLA, we are still waiting for you! Email your review to support at theoildrum dot com.

Original Post: The footage from Bartlett's conference this past weekend is on tonight at 6:31am EDT on is 1:14 minutes long.

here's the schedule (thanks fatbear for the catch...):

Review by Donal

I attended Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's 2005 Energy Conference Monday morning, which was taped for later broadcast on C-Span. As the Federal News Service will provide a transcript in about a day, I will try to be descriptive rather than narrative.

We had three Peak Oil Awareness meetup members there, Phil from DC, Kevin from Chantilly and me from Frederick. I noticed quite a few men with grey ponytails. As JLA noted, there was a range from business suits to casual to decidedly earth-crunch granola.

As one of the first 200 attendees, I got a chit to take an Oil Age poster after the conference. Rep. Bartlett said posters were available to teachers and professors for free.

Rep. Bartlett appeared very intelligent and well-informed about the subject of Peak Oil, comfortably rattling off facts and figures. In a short Powerpoint intro, he noted that even before the peak there will be a periods where demand exceeds supply. Bartlett claimed that Hubbert had predicted the US peak dead-on for 1970, but I thought that Hubbert offered a multi-year window for the peak. He likened our situation to that of the Apollo XIII mission in that we have to do everything right, very quickly.

Ken Deffeyes showed up with a cold and a box of tissues. He's a bit obese, with rumpled white hair, rumpled white shirt and suspenders. As JLA noted, Deffeyes' presentation offered little new information for those of us who have followed The Oil Drum, Energy Bulletin, etc., but he spoke very well and knows his laugh lines, such as presenting this list of industries to be hurt by costly energy:

  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Aviation
  • ...
  • Zymurgy
Deffeyes told us to expect some sort of rationing, whether by Price (high price limits use), by Inconvenience (fixed price but low availability) or by Gov't Coupons. He mentioned DME, DiMethyl Ether, made from coal, now used as a safer propellant in aerosol sprays. Dimethyl ether is a clean-burning alternative to various fossil fuels and can be made from natural gas, coal, or biomass.

Matt Simmons is a fairly short man with a very ruddy face. Looking a bit tired, he wore a nondescript navy jacket, blue shirt and red tie. He mentioned that he was coauthoring an OpEd piece with Stewart Udall called 50 Years of Energy Mistakes. Simmons described having recently been on a panel with Dr Sadad al-Husseini. Instead of attacking the Saudis, Simmons talked about rig damage while Dr. Sadad gamely presented a best-case scenario for 25 MBD in 2025 (!). Simmons thought that Dr. Sadad offered about as much subtle warning of peak oil as he could, given that he wanted to continue living in Saudi Arabia.

Simmons said that we are in serious trouble right now because, "we are out of drilling rigs." He noted that Rita was still Cat 5 when she hit the GoMex platforms. We have been getting bad info, like using 3D seismic to "prove" reserves, and making bad decisions like drawing down our reserves in expectation of J.I.T. (just-in-time) oil deliveries. Simmons recommended that we demand a full accounting of Energy Data and go to an Energy War Footing.

Richard Heinberg was comparatively natty in a tan suit, dark blue shirt and brown/purple tie. He noted that the Hirsch report was "not being discussed" in official circles. He thinks Katrina and Rita have catapulted us into a bumpy plateau instead of a clear peak. He favors adoption of the Oil Depletion Protocol to control volatile prices and head off conflicts. While Heinberg was discussing the ODP, Simmons and Deffeyes were whispering, smiling ruefully and shaking their heads. They could have been talking about anything, but I wondered if they thought the ODP was a just a pipe dream.

Rep. Bartlett ended the first session by thanking local politicos Shank, Bartlett (his son), Krebs, Cooper, etc., for attending. He noted that one barrel of oil was the equivalent of 12 men working for a year, but that gas was still cheaper than bottled water.

In the second session, Donald Wulfinghoff, PE, of Wheaton MD, began by gesturing for someone to bring him a copy of this large "Energy Efficiency Manual" that he kept perched on the leading corner of the panelist table. He quickly noted that the book was for sale at (whoa, for $200!). He rushed through parts of a powerpoint presentation that was probably meant for a full hour or more.

Wulfinghoff first spoke about creating more efficiency in Transportation, noting that no new technology is needed. In order of importance (to him):

  1. Minimize Transportation - IOW live near work, go out less, live in small walkable communities, like Europe, and switch away from truck freight.
  2. Improve Vehicle Fuel Economy - He knows of 300 mpg prototypes; he thinks we should be able to get 100 mpg in safe, comfortable cars, but minimizing transportation is more important.
  3. Shift from Petroleum Fuels - He recommends that we use electric cars for short range commutes and Coal-to-Liquids fuels for emergencies, but thinks that minimizing transportation and achieving better fuel economy are more important.
He advises that we not be distracted by:
  • Mass Transit - a social program, not efficient transportation.
  • Hybrid Cars - a political solution.
  • Hydrogen Economy - a fantasy
  • Coal-derived fuels (why did he mention it above?)
  • Ethanol - not enough land to grow it
  • Telecommuting (was on his screen)
Dismissing Mass Transit got Wulfinghoff the second biggest boos of the conference. He moved on to discuss Buildings, which he logically divided into Houses and Non-residential buildings.

He claimed that new buildings offer the greatest opportunity to reduce energy use; once the concrete is set, it is hard to make improvements. Again, he said that no new technology is needed. He advised intelligent use of insulation, but made the strange claim that we usually put 3.5" in the walls and 24" in the attic (In this region, builders actually put only about 10" (R-30) of insulation in residential attics). He prefers 12" thick insulation in the walls both for better efficiency and to avoid dewpoint problems. (Any water vapor escaping a warm building will liquefy at a certain temperature, called the dewpoint. If that temperature occurs within the insulation layer, the insulation will gather moisture, and likely be ruined.) Besides the greater insulation, thicker walls will allow for earthquake-proof and hurricane-proof connections between walls and floors and walls and roofs.

He claimed that non-residential buildings are less efficient now than ever, largely due to large expanses of glass (I don't disagree). He advocated smaller, shaded windows. He wants to go back to task lighting, and institute room by room monitoring of energy use. He claims that energy-efficiency need not affect the interior layout and use of modern buildings. (But look at building layouts before cheap energy - they are all about natural light and ventilation for every important room.)

He is very much against modifying buildings to generate their own energy. He feels Pepco (Potomac Electric Power) knows far more about generating electricity efficiently than he does. He noted that building design professionals are not being taught energy-conscious design (At my school, many profs dismissed active solar as mere plumbing).

Wulfinghoff urged that we adopt these measures, "to maintain our standard of living." (Can we maintain our standard of living?) He said that except for the last fifty years, American life was characterized by "Thrift" and that we should return to that value. ($200 for a book?)

John Spears, CEM, of Gaithersburg MD, spoke of three oil problems: Running out of it, polluting ourselves with it, and that it is controlled by the few. He asked us to imagine the lecture hall as our universe. In one scenario we added lights, heat, etc., all powered by the infinite oil just outside the door. The we choked on the carbon monoxide. In the second scenario, we used more daylighting, natural ventilation, etc, and less oil.

In contrast to Wulfinghoff's reliance on Pepco, Spears recommends Grid-Tied Photovoltaic (PV) systems or Battery Backup PV systems providing the megawatts needed to power his passive solar designs. (Spears has architectural training, but his buildings look engineered rather than architecturally-designed.)

Spears thinks hydrogen will be a useful, trouble-free fuel. I assume that Wulfinghoff and Spears are accustomed to speaking to the energy-ignorant. They seemed genuinely surprised to hear opposition in the crowd. They wore standard dark business suits with red power ties, and were very well-groomed. Either of them could have been going to a client presentation.

In his khaki shirt and rust tie, short beard and glasses, soft-spoken John Howe sported the rumpled professor look. Unfortunately, he rambled all over the place, once smiling and admitting, "I tend to jump around here." As JLA noted, it was painful. I was afraid that people would laugh, and I don't think Howe deserves laughter.

Howe is giving away a book, The End of Fossil Energy, which you can get by emailing Howe at megalink dot net. He spoke of current delusions such as the Hydrogen Hype, because 97% of our hydrogen comes from NG, and Fool Cells, which got a laugh. He was the only presenter to remind us of Jevon's Paradox, which says that being energy efficient only increases consumption of energy.

Howe said we needed a real leader like Shackleton leading his men to Elephant Island, that rationing will be necessary to protect the poor, who can sell their stamps to the rich on the black market, and that we have to invest in solar and wind while we still can. He described his self-made solar NEV, an old golf cart with a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 15 mph. Originally a farmer, he also has a solar tractor, which charges itself enough to "work" about an hour or so per day.

In the Q&A, Bartlett was asked if Bush knew about this problem. He responded that the President was quite aware of peak oil, but that the urgent often overrides the important. Bartlett was also asked why the President sponsored such a useless Energy Bill, and responded simply that he had voted against it.

Asked about wasting investment in refineries, Simmons answered that they must be replaced because of their age - one that was built for Spindletop in 1906 is still running.

Asked about wasting investment in nuclear power instead of renewables, Bartlett held up some uranium pellets and said that he was getting mixed responses as to how much uranium was available. Deffeyes said that he had been involved in studies and that a lot had been discovered since then. The greatest booing was reserved for disagreements over nuclear power.

In response to question about population control, Rep. Bartlett recommended that folks watch Albert Bartlett's presentation on exponents to learn about the population problem. Someone said that industrial countries had controlled their populations and that education was the answer. Someone mentioned China's mess of a solution. John Howe suggested that, instead of discussing abortion, contraception, etc. and putting birth control on women, all men should be snipped after fathering their first child.

In answer to a question on Alaskan oil, Rep. Bartlett said he was opposed to drilling in ANWR (Simmons looked glum when he said that) because, "Why use up what we still have as quickly as we can?".

Afterwards, Kevin and I had a quick chat with Rep. Bartlett; we thanked him for getting the message out. I never got a chance to speak to Spears or Wulfinghoff.

Overall, the message of Rep. Bartlett and the first panel is very clear. We must prepare for change. As evidenced by the second panel, though, there is no clear agreement as to how to respond. Some believe the hydrogen hype, though most don't. Some expect a return to localized lifestyles; others think we can maintain our standard of living.

We'll see.

sched now on website
02:59 AM EDT
1:14 duration
Higher Gas Prices in the Wake of Katrina
U.S. House of Representatives, Bartlett, R. (R-MD)
Roscoe Bartlett , R-MD
Kenneth S. Deffeyes , Princeton University

The conference ran from 9:00 until sometime around 12:30 with a break, so they must be editing it down.
Also C-SPAN II (or 2) at 6:32AM tomorrow
I just checked the CSPAN schedule and couldn't find any Bartlett program at 2:59 am.

It does seem to be scheduled for 6:31 however, as fatbear said in his last comment:

Now the schedule has gone blank - C-SPAN has a big hole from 2:59AM to 7AM, and C-SPAN II (2) has no schedule at all!!

So, guess you're on your own....

The C-SPAN schedule is back online, and the time for the Bartlett broadcast is 6:31 EDT.  

In the wonderful set of comments posted on another thread (, did anyone else catch the report that Rep. Bartlett says President Bush knows about Peak Oil?

In the Q&A, Bartlett said that the President was quite aware of peak oil.  Barlett said he had voted against the Energy Bill.

Donal was the poster who said this.  It would be good to see verification on the video broadcast or on the transcript.  If Bartlett did indeed make this statement, it would be big news.

Thats not new news Bart.

And in truth its REALLY old news. hard to imagine Bush didnt know about Peak Oil afore sending 10s of thousands of troops to a little country on other side of planet called Iraq.

You're right, thelastsasquatch, Bartlett has spoken to Bush.  But at the time, "Bartlett declined to discuss or characterize any of his private conversation with the President, but said that he was very happy about the meeting."  I remember that Simmons has also spoken to Bush, but I don't recall him saying anything definitive about the content of their meeting.

As far as I know, this is the first time that anyone directly involved with the President has said that Bush knows about Peak Oil.

We can speculate all we want, but it becomes newsworthy when there are witnesses and public statements.  That's why I think it's a big deal.

The afternoon half of Bartlett's seminar just played out here on the West Coast

As the meet with Bush, I Bartlett said that the problem is one of "the urgent (hurricanes) pushing out the important (peak oil)". He seemed to indicate that Bush knew about PO but was always focusing on the more politically "urgent" topics rather than the more "important" long term crisises.

from :
Second Panel:  Sustainability - What Must We Do To Achieve A Soft Landing?

10:30am - Donald Wulfinghoff:  The Key - Energy Efficiency

10:50am - John Spears:  What Does Sustainability Look Like?

 11:10am - John Howe:  Understanding the Challenge - Critical Priorities

11:30 - 11:50 - Q&A, Roundtable Discussion - Policy Options

[Moderated by Congressman Bartlett]

 11:50 - 12:00 - Concluding Remarks by Congressman Bartlett

John Howe & his solar tractor:

Howe claims he'll send you a free copy of his book if you just email him a request, see

Wulfinghoff's site:

Correction: first line should say As for the meeting with Bush, I heard Bartlett say ...
I was intrigued by the solar tractor. It's referred to as "10HP", but this doesn't look right (or only for short stints of the battery). Looks like he's got about 3 m^2 of PVs. Solar constant is around 1300 W/m^2 for vertical sun at the top of the atmosphere. Let's say around 1 KW/m^2 in practice at moderate latitudes at noon. Let's say 12% efficiency PVs. So he's got about 360 watts of power - when it's sunny and the middle of the day with the sun overhead. That's 0.4 horsepower (according to these nice tables). He'd be much better off with a 1.0 horsepower horse. Looks like the solar tractor is a completely bogus PR stunt.
D'oh. I forgot to convert for PDT and missed all but the last two or three minutes.

It will replay on C-SPAN3 Sep 27, 12:01 PM EDT (That's 09:01 PDT.)

There are streams on the C-Span website, but no C-Span3 channel on DirecTV.

Super G:
I'm sorry, but I'm a bit behind in writing a proposal today (in part because I skipped work yesterday morning to drive out to Frederick for this conference) and have a class tonight.  

Donal has provided an excellent summary, and I am not sure that I have much to add.  But, for what it's worth, here are a few thoughts:

  • For clarification, the 25mbd figure that Dr. Sadad projected was for all of OPEC, not the world.  

  • As Donal points out, it is amazing how little consensus there is EVEN AMONG ALTERNATIVE E/SUSTAINABILITY EXPERTS on what does and does not make sense.  We all need to question our assumptions and biases when evaluating strategies for mitigating peak oil.  For example, the need for mass transit is practically sacrosanct among urban planners such as myself.  However, in terms of BTUs per passenger-mile, many systems are not as efficient as one would expect relative to passenger cars.  How much can this be improved?  Should the argument for mass transit be based more on the efficiency gains of compact, mixed land uses and equity rather than transportation energy efficiency?  etc., etc., ...

  •  Simmons kind of jumped when Deffeyes described Heinberg, who was sitting next to Simmons, as a radical social critic.  Sometimes I wonder whether Simmons wishes he had stuck to investment banking.  

  • It was a bit surreal observing the birkenstock crowd at a Republican sponsored conference.  How long can the love fest between these strange bedfellows last?  My guess is until there is consensus on peak oil and we start to get serious about mitigation strategies.

The transcript is up, but only for paying customers.

Thanks to Donal for his excellent review; as an avid people watcher I thought I would add a bit of what I observed.

There were about 200 people and at least half were professional suit and ties from the DC political world. In attendance were three state legislators from the local area. Bartlett's staff were professional and effective. Some lobbyists present, most apparently sent by their higher ups to observe and report. An extensive amount of hair creame on the males, big hair on the women; as an observation. They listened politely and attentively; body language said that the material was new for many of them.  Out in the smoking area very little of their between session conversation was on the topic, quite a bit of light hearted disparaging comment including one of "I guess this is where they want us to drink the cool-aid." A very "Republican" crowd among the "Suits" so I gather that Bartlett has been button-holing his fellows to listen-up. For that he should be credited.

Although the public crowd seemed very Peak Oil aware, I would not call them a pony-tail and granola set, but then at my age I do know what that crowd looks like! There was one (1) ponytail in attendance (this is a people watchers report, after all)  I was struck by the apparent social diversity of the public side of the attendees. Two arrived by bicycle.

It appeared that this may have been planned as a full day seminar, then compressed to under 3 hours of actual talk time. The presentations were very rushed. If I was unfamiliar with the topic, it would have been difficult to understand the thrust of the Peak Oil arguement. In all, disappointing and a disservice on Bartlett's part to his DC based observers, for whose benefit I believe the conference was held. Limiting the presentations to the big three would have been much more effective.

A word about two of the presenters. I have followed Simmonds since he first began posting to his corporate site; and the rising sense of urgency is palpable. He is very worried and I think basically shares the view of many here that we are in for a catastrophe that it is already too late to fully avoid.

Howe was in fact very rambling, if still charming. He made the only comment that generated a spontaneous interuptive applause from the attendees when he began a sentence with "If we rely upon market signals it will be too late..."  My only question was addressed to Howe, and I asked him to comment on the work of Jay Hanson and the possibility of a Global "Die-Off." The question never got to Bartlett (who was presenting the questions from written slips) as I observed it thrown in the trash by his aide in attendance. Afterwards Howe said to me that "Those of us who have followed this for years know that it is already far too late. Perhaps if we had started twenty five years ago."

I keep seeing apologists for the "system" rather than people with courage to rebel against the system.

Howe was the only one who had enough courage to say the "markets" solution was bullshit and it is too late to wait for the markets to adopt and that we need to go to rationing immediately. Congressman Bartlett made the excuse that PO is merely "important" rather than "urgent" and that politicians are forced by the system to attend to the "urgent" (hurricanes) while ignoring the "important" (imminent collapse of our way of life).

I for one do not accept these half-laughed-away giggle excuses. (Hee Hee hee.) If Bartlett is representing the best intersts of his voters (Maryland) rather than his own best interests (getting financial support from the party for re-election), then he would stand up to the powers-in-office and call them out on the mat rather than making excuses for them. What good is winning the next election when there will be no "public" to serve after the imminent collapse. Katrina shows us how close to the edge we are. Katrina was a dodged bullet to the head because the full script of the "Oil Storm" movie did not play out. It was too close for comfort. The party games need to end.

As for Republicans versus Democrats, and our different ways of dressing and swaggering about, I don't think Mother Nature gives a hoot.

Actually, I think of Katrina/Rita as a leg wound.  It only aches a bit now, but it will hurt a lot when we get up and try to put some weight on it.  We'll be limping this winter and for a while after that.
I was there too, and I would like to echo these comments.

I agree it was rushed.  Many of the talks were designed to be an hour, and these guys were just pushing through as quickly as they could.

I didn't listen to the folks in the lobby inbetween sessions - I got stuck in a long line for the mens room.  The people I did speak with were for the most part already quite familiar with the topic.  I did talk to one guy I know for whom this was all new, but he seemed pretty open-minded about it all.

The problem is that PO is a large subject, and it takes a while to get your head around all of the different aspects of it.  For many people the initial response is likely to be one of denial.  What makes it worse is that you have the Cornocopians running around telling people just to hang tight and do nothing, which just serves to muddy the waters.

I was meaning to ask Bartlett whether there are other members of Congress who share his views, but I didn't think to write it down on one of those little cards.

On Hubbert and 1970:  Hubbert passed out a pre-print, marked "Subject to Correction," at the regional American Petroleum Institute conference in San Antonio in 1956.  His presentation was on March 8, 1956.  Hubbert and his wife had been in Europe much of 1955, and he only got the formal invitation to present in December 1955, after bumping into someone at another conference in Denver.  So, even with help from other Shell staff, he had to put together a paper hurriedly, addressing not just oil but natural gas, coal, and nuclear.

What Hubbert had to work with, for U.S. oil (meaning, in 1956, the Lower 48 states as Alaska and Hawaii had not yet joined the union), is shown at the top of pdf page 5 of a recent paper by Stanford physicist Amos Nur.  It shows a shaded area with extraction data through 1954.

Hubbert also had an estimate of the expected Lower 48 ultimate, which he tweaked to get 150 billion barrels (150 Gb).  There was not a lot of analysis that went into it.  But going back to the Nur graph, we see that Nur, just like Hubbert in 1956, has it marked off in rectangular grids.  The Y axis is in Gb/year, and the X axis is in years.  Multiplying them cancels out the year unit, producing Gb.  So any particular area of the graph (e.g., one rectangle, or the area underneath the upslope of the extraction-rate line) is a quantity of oil in Gb.  One rectangle is 25 Gb, and if the supposition was that there 150 Gb was the ultimate total extraction quantity, then only 150 Gb could fit underneath the line as it proceeded into the future.  That is, only the equivalent of six rectangles could fit underneath it.

U.S. and Texas oil in 1956 were in their heyday.  The Railroad Commission of Texas was the OPEC of its era.  Pretty much everybody else seemed to think U.S. Lower 48 oil was still plentiful.  For instance, from Nur we can see that only about two rectangles of the estimated six had been consumed, over 95 years of oil industry history.  There were still four rectangles to go, and a lot of history.  Not that much more thought, apparently, was given to the topic.

Hubbert's analysis was that to fit the equivalent of six rectangles under the line, the line had to take a downturn in the near future.  Consequently he drew a bell curve, albeit I think without ever calling it that, saying simply that however the line progressed, it couldn't resemble anything too different from his drawing, if only 150 Gb were to snuggle under it.

From the 150 Gb, he got a peak year of (i.e., bell curve maxing out and topping out in) 1965.

But the San Antonio paper was a preprint, and in the next six weeks Hubbert was apprised of a January 1956 federal-government publication containing a paper by Wallace Pratt, then of Carlsbad, New Mexico.  Pratt for his paper had surveyed 25 industry experts, and among other questions sought estimates of the Lower 48 ultimate.  From 22 replies, the highest figure he got was 200 Gb, from the prestigious Dallas firm of DeGolyer and McNaughton.  (Everette DeGolyer is mentioned early on in Simmons' book.  FDR sent DeGolyer to Saudi Arabia during WWII to assess that country's oil potential.  DeGolyer was a big donor to Southern Methodist University, and the main library there is named after him.  The company he and Lewis McNaughton founded is still in business and still prestigious.)  A like number of 200 Gb came from a 1952 book by another author who Pratt mentioned but had not included in the survey.  The upshot was that Hubbert and Pratt traded correspondence, more about Pratt advising Hubbert not to go out on such a prognosticatopm limb (where other pessimists had gone before, very wrongly) than about the 200 Gb.  However, by mid-April Hubbert had revised his graph and sent it to Pratt.  The revision drew two bell curves, one for 150 Gb and the other for 200 Gb.  That was what Shell published, with some editorial changes, in June 1956.  The 200 Gb estimate produced a peak year of 1970.  The publshed version, in turn, was duplicated (I think) in an American Petroleum Institute annual publication, called Drilling and Production Practice, which came out at or slightly after the end of 1956.  So it likewise had two graphs rather than one, and that and/or the June 1956 publication were what most people had access to, as opposed to the preprint before its correction.

The June 1956 Shell version is online.  See Figure 21 on pdf page 32.

Thus Hubbert predicted that, at the outside, the rate of Lower 48 oil extraction would hit a maximum (i.e., a peak, or "Hubbert Peak") in 1970.  That was precisely on the money, with the caveat that it was the outside chronological end of a range that had a 1965 peak year on the other end.  Even so, with the two graphs, the 1970 was prescient enough to make Hubbert eventually famous.

Partly the prognostication fame came from Hubbert sticking to his guns.  After 1956, the main way of challenging his analysis was to conclude that the 200 Gb was just wrong.  Other estimates came out, progressively going higher and higher, fracturing a relative industry consensus that had been reflected in the Pratt survey results.

A separate analysis, friendly to Hubbert's, came out in February between Pratt's January paper and Hubbert's March presentation in San Antonio.  It was by Joseph E. Pogue and Kenneth E. Hill of Chase Manhattan.  Hubbert later in 1956 exchanged correspondence with both of them, as well, and it may (emphasis, may) have been Hill who gave Hubbert the idea for more complicated mathematical tinkering looking at data for cumulative extraction, proven reserves, and discovery.  Discovery, with barrels per year as the Y axis unit, was not a smooth line, so Hubbert converted the Y axis to cumulative barrels of discovery.  This produced an S curve, and one looked for a flattening as it proceeded, suggesting approximately where the upper cumulative limit, or ultimate, would be.  Extraction graphed the same way would be a similar S curve with a time lag.  As Campbell or Laherrere would say today, you can't extract what hasn't been discovered.  The one follows the other.

The more complicated math led to a series of papers, apparently begun with one Hubbert presented at a conference in Midland, Texas, in 1958 (which I have not yet located), and followed by another he presented in Dallas in 1959 (which had an error Hubbert had to advise people of and correct).  Eventually he got a chance to write the energy portion of a natural resources study by the National Academy of Sciences for President Kennedy.  His analysis, while more mathematical than that of 1956, suggested a Lower 48 ultimate comfortably in the 150 Gb to 200 Gb range, validating 1956.

It got published in 1962, but not before an estimate of 590 Gb emanated from the U.S. Geological Survey, influenced heavily by Vincent McKelvey who some years later became USGS director.  There was scientific politicking, maybe even backstabbing, and given the discrepancy between Hubbert's number and the much larger USGS number, Hubbert's paper didn't get a chance to make a public splash all on its own.  For President Kennedy purposes, it got downplayed, and thus a second Hubbert message, attempting to tell the country that we needed to get busy contemplating an energy transition to something else, ended up again diluted.  McKelvey and Hubbert exchanged correspondence on the discrepancy in 1962, McKelvey eventually deciding they needed to agree to disagree.  Over the years he grew more adversarial, essentially a Hubbert nemesis on the topic.  Hubbert retired from Shell in Houston in 1964, and went to work for the USGS, where he was given other assignments besides estimating oil quantities.

He continued publishing outside the USGS, in journals, and already by the end of 1962, in National Academy of Sciences circles, was challenging the methodology that produced the adversarial 590 Gb, which was based on barrels of discoveries per feet of well drilling.  This led to a 1967 Hubbert paper showing that discoveries per foot were declining.  By even more complicated mathematics than 1962, he arrived back within the original 150 Gb to 200 Gb range.

The U.S. peaked in 1970.  The USGS only minimally backed down from its estimated ultimate, and even then not until 1974.  It backed down more in 1975, after coming under fire from a new National Academy of Sciences referee attempt.  Eventually, with the advent of the Carter Administration, McKelvey was forced to resign.

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under President Kennedy, began figuring out in 1971 that he had been misled by his subordinates, including the USGS, while secretary in the 1960s.  He consequently befriended Hubbert, who previously as secretary he hadn't even known was his employee.  Udall published a book, The Energy Balloon, in 1974 contemporaneous with the first energy crisis.  He did some public blistering of the "boomer geologists" and the "paper discoveries" of oil that had led the country astray and allowed it to get blindsided from an energy policy standpoint.

Hubbert brought much of his math and analytical evolution all together in a lengthy Congressional publication, prepared for Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, in 1974.  That in turn got expanded in a 1980 paper, published in 1982, that was the full culmination of Hubbert's evolving prognostication methodology.  (We are talking lots of equations.)  It takes some effort to get hold of, usually requiring an interlibrary loan and a microfilm viewer/printer.

Prudhoe Bay was discovered in 1968, and resultant oil began to flow through the Alaskan pipeline in 1977.  The Alaskan oil extraction rate peaked in 1988, I think.  The U.S. all-time maximum, even with Alaska and Hawaii added as the 49th and 50th states, remained at 1970, although 1985 got reasonably close to 1970.  But Alaska helped, as did Mexican oil, as did North Sea oil, etc., such that the OPEC nations had to impose quotas to avoid gluts.  That situation, and Hubbert's death in 1989, created a bit of a peak-oil lull before various successors (Buzz Ivanhoe, Joseph Riva, Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrere, Brian Fleay, Walter Youngquist, Richard Duncan, Kenneth Deffeyes, Matthew Simmons) created analytical momentum looking beyond a U.S. peak toward a world peak.  The Internet, beginning with Jay Hanson's dieoff website and energyresources list, as well as the website of Ron Swenson and Francis de Winter, began to popularize the topic, as did Richard Heinberg's publication of The Party's Over.

Attempting there a short history.  A better one may be forthcoming soon, from a welcome collaborative effort between Matthew Simmons and Stewart Udall.

CKuykendall, great summary.  Maybe this should be the start of a new thread.  I'd hate to see this history get lost in obscurity here at the tail end of a discussion.

PG, HO, other masters of TOD, what do you think?

I've tried researching Hubbert on the web before, and there is not that much biographical material.  It would be nice to see links to reminiscences and papers.  I think, for example, Prof. Nur at Stanford did some writing about Hubbert.

Thanks CKuykendall, most excellent and well written post! I would like to second Bart's suggestion for the creation of a thread, perhaps archival, on this subject. I too have tried to research Hubbert and there is a dearth of information. Understanding the history of how we missed the early warning signs may help us understand how to act from here on out.