World Oil Exports: A Comprehensive Projection

[editor's note, by Prof. Goose] This is a guest post by lads.

This article is a first simplistic (but comprehensive) assessment of World Oil Exports, here defined has the total amount of liquid hydrocarbons that are surpluses in producing countries. This assessment is made by projecting in to the future fixed change rates that reflect current trends in liquids production and consumption in countries where presently the difference between the two is positive. The outcome of this assessment is worrisome.


Although the debate is growing around the point in time when global oil production starts to decline permanently, for countries or regions where oil production is null or very low, the amount of oil available for trade in the market is a much more relevant issue. Such is the case of the European Union; with oil consumption topping 14.5 Mb/d, only two of its member states figure in the exporting countries list, and both with marginal numbers. More than worrying with a Peak Oil date, importing countries should worry on the future availability of tradable oil.

It is therefore of the highest importance for importing countries to know in advance the amount of oil available to the market, and from which countries/regions it may come, in order to prepare correctly for the future.

This assessment uses as data sources the Statistical Review of World Energy, published yearly by BP, and the monthly newsletter published by ASPO, where assessments for future oil production are available for more than 40 individual countries. Future oil consumption and production is projected using static change rates for the period starting in 2006 and finishing in 2020. These rates are determined by current trends and by reserves/future discovery assessments made by Colin Campbell and published in the ASPO's newsletters.

In this text the word "oil" is used for simplicity as synonym of liquid hydrocarbons, for the past data on consumption and production used includes Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

Oil Exporters

Oil exporting countries are defined as having in 2005 an oil production greater than oil consumption, thus resulting in a surplus. Using the data published by BP on its Statistical Review of World Energy of 2006, the following countries are identified: Saudi Arabia,

Former Soviet Union (where individual data is available for Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan), Norway, Venezuela, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, México, Algeria, Qatar, Canada, Malaysia, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt and United Kingdom.

Due to lack of data for consumption, Angola, Nigeria and Iraq are left out of this first assessment. This issue will be revisited in the concluding stages of this article.

Figure 1 shows how these exporting countries rank in the world oil market.

Figure 1 - Oil producing countries identified for 2005. The "Others" slot contains all countries producing less than 400 Kb/d.

The statistical review contains historical data from 1965 to present, which is worth observing:

Figure 2 - Past oil exports from countries where data on consumption is also available.

The well know energy crisis of the past appear in an interesting fashion: the major declines in exports come after the events that generated it. Such might be a sign of a market ruled more from the Demand side than from the Supply side. That situation is likely to reverse as the peak in world oil production is approached.

The early 1980s are years of marked difficulties for exporters, on both wealthy sides of the Atlantic internal production backed off demand (Alaska and North Sea). Exporting numbers of the 1970s are only surpassed in the mid 1990s. This fall on oil demand can be a reasonable explanation for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Future Oil Production

Future oil production is projected applying the decline/growth rates identified by Colin Campbell to the data published by BP. In most cases the numbers of each source for daily production do not match, Campbell's assessments focus on Conventional Oil, while BP's historical data on "All Liquids" (a somewhat loose definition which includes Liquefied Natural Gas and other non-specified liquids). Still these differences are usually small, requiring special treatment only in three cases.

Following is a list of the countries assessed. Next to the country name is the year of original assessment by Colin Campbell and in quote the author's view at the time. A brief explanation of the rate used for projection then follows.

Saudi Arabia - 2006

Production stands at 9 Mb/d giving a low depletion rate of 1.9%,, which itself is reason to doubt the higher official reserve estimates The country is endeavouring to offset the natural decline of its aging fields by infill drilling as well as advanced horizontal drilling to tap the less productive zones in the reservoir. A tar-seal on the eastern flank of Ghawar, deprives it of a natural water drive, meaning that massive amounts of water have to be injected. It is also bringing on new much smaller fields, including offshore extensions. While the country claims to be able to increase production to 12 Mb/d, it is here thought more likely that it will be hard pressed to hold present production, which is here modeled to remain about flat for another twenty years before decline sets in at about 3% a year. It may not be able even to do that.

Sweet Oil production in Saudi Arabia has likely peaked leaving the country in some sort of momentarily difficulties to replace past production rates with sour crude. The declared recoverable reserves stand at 270 Gb, a number hardly with geological meaning, given that original oil in place is declared to be 720 Gb. Including the 105 Gb already produced; that would imply a mean recovery rate of over 50% for the entire country. The current assessment by Colin Campbell stays around 160 Gb, which is probably optimistic for it implies a mean recovery of 37%, roughly meaning the successful application of tertiary recovery methods for the entire country. Still this last estimate is used which make it plausible for Saudi Arabia to continue producing liquid hydrocarbons at rates in excess of 11 Mb/d.

Russian Federation - 2003

Accordingly, we may expect a second peak around 2010.

It is clear that the reserve estimates of around 50 Gb as reported by the Oil & Gas Journal were far too low. Exactly how far is difficult to know, but we tentatively favour an figure of about 60 Gb, still giving a fairly low depletion rate of 3%, which is one argument against higher estimates.

Production rose steeply up to 2005 and stalled there after; a peak is still expected circa 2010 at 10 Mb/d.

Kazakhstan - 2005

Insufficient is known about the country to make a very reliable assessment but the indications are that about 37 Gb have been discovered, of which only 6.6 have been produced. Future discovery is here assessed at about 8 Gb, giving a rounded total of 45 Gb. With such substantial reserves, the country has little incentive to explore for more. If this is approximately correct, it might be reasonable to model production rising to about 1.4 Mb/d by 2010 followed by a plateau to the onset of decline around 2030.

This projection is kept without change.

Azerbaijan -2004

Production is currently running at about 300 kb/d at far below capacity pending the construction of the new export pipeline when it may triple. The midpoint of depletion is forecast for around 2015, when production would decline at about 2.5% a year.

This projection is kept without change.

Norway - 2003

Oil production commenced in 1971 and has grown steadily to just over 3 Mb/d. Some 16 Gb have been produced, which is close to half the total discovered. Peak production was passed in 2001 (barring any shortlived surge from new small developments), and will be followed by a relatively high decline of almost 7% a year.

From 2004 to 2005 the depletion rate for Norway was actually 7%.

Venezuela - 2006

On this basis, the depletion rate of Regular Conventional production stands at no more than 2%, suggesting that even the present reserve assessment may be too generous. It is here assumed that production can be held at 1.8 Mb/d until around say 2015 before a gentle decline sets in. As already mentioned, the East Venezuela Basin has substantial reserves of Non-Conventional heavy oil, lying at depths of between 500 and 1500m.(...) Production commenced in 1990 and has risen to about 650 000 kb/d. It is assumed here that production will be flat to 2015 rising thereafter at 3% to peak in 2030 before declining at 2% a year.

This projection is kept without change.

Iran - 2003

(...) production could in resource terms rise to a second peak in 2009 at almost 5 Mb/d before commencing its terminal decline at 2.6% a year, but operational and investment constraints may prevent such a level being reached in practice, with 3-4 Mb/d peak being perhaps more likely .

Production rose to 4 Mb/d in 2004 and stalled beyond that. Based on the same resource base this daily production could be maintained up to 2020. Like Saudi Arabia, Iran's declared recoverable reserves (130 Gb) have been under great criticism. While Colin Campbell's estimates sit around 70 Gb, Samsam Bakhtiari, a retired head-man of the Iranian Oil Company, declared this year that recoverable reserves stay around 40 Gb. The projection here used can be considered fairly optimistic.

Abu Dhabi (UAE) - 2004

Oil production stands at 1.8 Mb/d, and is here assumed to remain flat at that level to the depletion

midpoint in 2026, declining at about 2% a year thereafter to about 1 Mb/d by 2050.

Assessment not available for states other than Abu Dhabi. Production for UAE has in fact been flattening in the last years, making Colin Campbell's assessment quite plausible.

Kuwait - 2004

Kuwait's production is expected to rise from a present 1.8 Mb/d to a second peak (depletion midpoint) at 2.7 Mb/d in 2018, before entering its terminal decline at about 2% a year.

This projection is kept without change.

Mexico - 2003

Mexico is here assessed to be capable of producing a total of 50 Gb to 2075, giving a midpoint of

depletion in 1999, some fourteen years after what appears to be a premature actual peak in 1985.

Production now stands at about 3.2 Mb/d, being subject to a fairly high depletion rate of 5% a year.

Mexico seems to have peaked only in 2004, but the future decline rate is maintained.

Algeria - 2004

Production is currently running at 1 Mb/d, and is expected to rise to a peak of 1.4 Mb/d by 2006 at the midpoint of depletion, before falling to about 850 kb/d by 2020 and 300 kb/d by 2050.

Algeria produces large amounts of LNG, reaching a total of 1.8 Mb/d for Liquids in 2003 and 2 Mb/d in 2005. Future production is modeled with Colin Campbell's assessment (3% annual decline) for Conventional Oil plus a constant of 0.8 Mb/d for LNG.

Qatar - 2005

Conventional Oil

Production 2004 0.78

Forecast 2010 0.53

Forecast 2020 0.27

The country has been exporting Liquefied Natural Gas for some time, and has plans to expand the capacity greatly, such that production is expected to rise to 1.4 Mb/d by 2011, making it the world's largest exporter. Several gas-to-liquids plants are also being developed by Chevron/Sasol, Exxon, Shell and others, which are expected to yield 1 Mb/d in a few years' time. Petrochemical production, including the world's largest ammonia-urea plant providing critical synthetic nutrients for agriculture, is also set to expand.

Productions rises of 9% were experienced in last years, which should continue up to 2011, beyond that an annual increase of 3.5% is used.


2011 1.93

2020 2.67

Canada - 2004

[Tar Sands] production, including derivatives, is here estimated to rise from about 1 Mb/d today to a plateau at 2.6 Mb/d starting in 2020, in a slow, labour- and capital-intensive process, also carrying environmental costs.

Canada seems to produce around 1 Mb/d of LNG, a figure likely to fall due to Natural Gas depletion. Total liquids production is projected increasing around 2% annum to 4.1 Mb/d in 2020.

Malaysia - 2005

Production stands at 855 kb/d, which is believed to be the peak, being set to decline at about 6% a

year, which is typical of an offshore environment. If so, production will have declined to about 570 kb/d in 2010 and 300 kb/d in 2020.

Change rate from 2004 to 2005 was -4.3%; since this was the first decline year, Colin Campbell's 6% seems quite reasonable.

Ecuador - 2003

Production now stands at about 400 kb/d, the capacity of the line. The depletion peak has been accordingly somewhat delayed by the limits to export, not being expected until 2004. Production is likely to have fallen to about 250 kb/d by 2020 and 80 kb/d by 2050.

From 2004 to 2005 production still increased by 1.1%, which indicates a near term peak. A new projection is made with a decline of 4% to a liquids production of 290 kb/d by 2020.

Argentina - 2003

Production peaked in 1998 declining to 750 kb/d in 2002. It means that Argentina will become a net importer by around 2010 assuming no increase in demand, which will no doubt further stress its economy and financial stability.

Decline rates have been erratic since 1998, with a fall of 7% from 2003 to 2004 being the highest. Henceforth decline is modeled at 6% per year decreasing production to 290 Kb/d by 2020.

Colombia - 2006

Production, reflecting the two main discovery cycles, reached a peak of 816 kb/d in 1999 at the midpoint of depletion. It has since declined to 520 kb/d giving a current depletion rate of just under 5% a year.

Projection kept without change.

Denmark - 2004

Indigenous production peaked in 2002 and is set to decline at about 7% a year.

A final peak was set in 2004 at 390 kb/d, with a decline of 3.3% for the next year. The 7% figure is here used for it's a common number for offshore terminal declines.

Egypt - 2003

Production 2002 0.27

Forecast 2010 0.17

Forecast 2020 0.09

Current Depletion Rate 5.9%

The country will become a net importer of oil within about five years as domestic production continues to fall.

There's a big gap from Colin Campbell's numbers to BP's, almost 500 kb/d; which most likely is LNG. Depletion rate for Liquids is has been stable around 4%, hence this is the figure used for projection.

United Kingdom - 2006

Current (2005) oil production of 1.8 Mb/d is set to decline at the current depletion rate of 7.5% a year, meaning that it will have halved in ten years.

The days of UK as an oil exporter are already over.

Future Oil Consumption

This is an all but easy assessment, and is performed with some risks. Unlike western importing countries, most of the analyzed countries experienced profound changes in consumption patterns since the turn of the century. Future consumption is mainly obtained by projecting the change rates observed in the last years, especially since 2003 when higher oil prices started being felt. There is a clear pattern in recent years of growing affluence in these exporting countries, which are mostly outside the wealthy importer blocs (Europe, North America, Japan and Oceania). The hardest question to answer is for how long will these countries continue in the soaring consumption growth path.

Saudi Arabia

After a period of slow growth during the years of low oil price, consumption in Saudi Arabia soured above 7% during 2 years to settle down at 4.7% in 2005. Future growth is modeled at 4% annum.

Figure3 - Oil consumption and change rates in Saudi Arabia.

Russian Federation

Oil consumption has been steadily growing around 1.5%/year, with 2004 being the exception with 2.6%. The increasing incomes from oil exports do not seem to affect much the country consumption; the 1.5% figure is kept.

Figure 4 - Oil consumption and change rates in the Russian Federation.


Erratic decline/growth through the last years makes projections difficult. It is likely that the 2005 figure will be maintained for some time as the country experiences greater affluence as an oil exporter. Future consumption growth is modeled as slowing down 1% each year from 10% to 5% from which point it settles.

Figure 5 - Oil consumption and change rates in Kazakhstan.


After two spectacular declines in 2001 and 2002, the country came back to life the next three years, going above 10% in 2003 and 2005. Future growth is modeled has maintained at

10%/year, for Azerbaijan is currently a somewhat undeveloped country.

Figure 6 - Oil consumption and change rates in Azerbaijan.

Rest of FSU

Consumption in the remaining countries is modeled as growing 2%/year.


Consumption history yields years of growth alternating with years of decline; still the mean since 2001 is positive. Future consumption growth is modeled at 1.2%/year.

Figure 7 - Oil consumption and change rates for Norway.


In the last 5 years 2003 was a clear outlier with a decrease of almost 20%; without this year the mean growth stands at 8%/year. 2004 can be argued has a correction year from the previous crisis, but 2001 and 2002 had similar large numbers, thus 8% is the figure used to project future growth.

Figure 8 - Oil consumption and change rates for Venezuela.


Steady growth since 2000 between 4% and 7% annum with 2001 a clear outlier. The mean of these figures from 2000 to 2005, barring 2001, is 5.75% which seems reasonable to project future growth.

Figure 9 - Oil consumption and change rates for Iran.


After a long period of decline, consumption growth came back strongly in 2001. From 2003 onwards growth rates are settling on the 5-6% range. The mean of these last 3 years, approximately 5.5%, is thus used.

Figure 10 - Oil consumption and change rates for UAE.


Strong growth in the late nineties was followed by tow years of stillness; from 2002 onwards growth picked up again with rates varying between 5% and 10% annum. The mean rate of these last 4 years, 8% is used for projection.

Figure 11 - Oil consumption and change rates for Kuwait.


Since 2000 a trend of erratic slow growth is visible, with 2002 a clear outlier. The mean of these figures since 2000, and excluding 2002, is 1.75% and looks like a reasonable number for future growth.

Figure 12 - Oil consumption and change rates for Mexico.


Steady growth in the range of 3% to 6%, with an outlying 11% in 2002. The mean figure since 2000 without 2002, 4%, is thus used for future growth.

Figure 13 - Oil consumption and change rates for Algeria.


A nation very hard to model, registering growth rates of 22% for 2001 and 47% for 2002, followed by a 3% decrease in 2003, in turn followed by strong increases in 2004 and 2005. Oil production in the country will increase beyond 2020, hence a high growth rate, circa 10%, is quite probable.

Figure 14 - Oil consumption and change rates for Qatar.


After 4 years of growth with rates above 2%, 2005 comes as the first year of declining consumption in a long time. The mean figure for the 2001-2004 period is 3.8%, probably a too higher number for a wealthy country. Still oil production is projected to grow beyond 2020, making likely future consumption growth, here set at around half of the 2001 - 2004 period.

Figure 15 - Oil consumption and change rates for Canada.


Growth years alternate with decline years in a nation already on terminal production decline. Future consumption is modeled as decreasing 2%/year; still Malaysia will stop being an exporter before 2020.

Figure 16 - Oil consumption and change rates for Malaysia.


After a decline in 2002, growth came back in the following years staying above 3%. The mean of the last 3 years, approximately 4%, is thus used.

Figure 17 - Oil consumption and change rates for Ecuador.


As for many others not so wealthy exporters, a decline period is followed by strong growth from 2003 onwards. Future growth is modeled at 5%, reflecting the last three years.

Figure 18 - Oil consumption and change rates for Argentina.


The country experienced shy consumption growth in the last 3 years, in spite of high decline rates in production. Future production is projected as growing 1.5%/year, a number close to the mean of the last 3 years.

Figure 19 - Oil consumption and change rates for Colombia.


2005 seems to be an exceptional year for the country, the first where consumption didn't decline since 1996. The good student is projected as keeping up the good work and declining consumption 3%/year, in line with the trend observed in the 2000 -2004 period. Such keeps Denmark as a marginal exporter through out 2020.

Figure 20 - Oil consumption and change rates for Denmark.


A country that illustrates perfectly the affluence growth in less wealthy oil exporters. After 3 difficult years of decline, consumption gets back on track toping 8.5% in 2005. The mean of these last 3 years, 5%, is used for 2006; beyond that Egypt's days as an exporter are over, and consumption will probably have to accommodate to the declines in production.

Figure 21 - Oil consumption and change rates for Egypt.

United Kingdom

Although experiencing a period of 3 years in a row with consumption growth above 1%, UK is a card out of the set of exporters.

Figure 22 - Oil consumption and change rates for the United Kingdom.

Future Oil Exports

The final result can be observed in Figure 23, obtained by subtracting the projected consumption from the projected production for each country. Once a country stops being an exporter is thereafter left out of the total. The countries leaving the exporters club are: United Kingdom in 2006, Egypt in 2007, Argentina in 2010, Mexico in 2015, Malaysia in 2019 and Colombia also in 2019.

Figure 23 - Total Oil exports from the assessed countries, including the projections for the 2006 - 2020 period.

The graph in Figure 23 depicts a very clear scenario: total exports from the assessed countries declines from hereafter, never recovering again. The decline rate grows with time, as seen Figure 24:

Figure 24 - Total Oil exports and evolution rates for the assessed countries, including the projections for the 2006 - 2020 period.

The declines rates resulting from the projections made are never higher than those observed during the early 1980s, still in 15 years total oil exports decline almost 40% from 36.2 Mb/d to 22.6 Mb/d. This period ahead might not have much in common with the crisis lived in the 1970s and 1980s, but if economic recession takes over in importing countries, periods of heavy decline might happen, followed by periods of recovery. It's worth looking closely to this period in figure 25.

Figure 25 - Decline rates in total oil exports for the assessed countries during the projected period, 2006 to 2020.

Four different periods can be identified:

. 2006 - 2010 : slow decline below 2%/year;

. 2011 - 2013 : first acceleration to a decline rate close to 4%/year;

. 2014 - 2016 : steady decline at 4%/year;

. 2017 - 2020 : new acceleration up 5%/year.

The first acceleration is probably the most critical period and follows the peak in world oil production. The final years of the 2010s decade will present great challenges for oil importing nations.

Finally is worth mentioning that these four periods seem to fit on Samsam Bakhtiari's Four Transitions of which the first started last year.

Important countries left out

There are three main countries for which consumption data is not available, hence not included in the calculations: Angola, Iraq [ed] and Nigeria. For the last two even if the data existed projection would be difficult. Both countries are experiencing serious social disturbances, Iraq is unfortunately undergoing what is technically a war, and in Nigeria social inequity is leading to rebellion from people to whom oil has only brought disadvantages. Some sort of social transformation is to expect in the following years in these countries, hopefully towards more stable environments.

As for Angola the times of social unrest seem to be gone, although elections are yet to take place, the liberal opposition is now unarmed. In 2003 the 5 million Angolans consumed little over 40 Kb/d. Today that number is unknown but is surely much higher, perhaps several orders of magnitude, due to an explosion in the housing market, an to a sharp increase in population (there are reports of 1 million Chinese living in Luanda alone). The latest assessment made by Colin Campbell pushed the peak in Angola's production back to 2011 (from circa 2018), more inline with other specialists (e.g. Cramez). The adding of future oil exports from Angola would not change much the overall picture, probably softening the decline rates before 2011 and augmenting them thereafter. Still this is an oil exporting country worth assessing if consumption data can be found in the future.


This assessment should be taken "with a grain of salt", it is not to be expected that the future will follow these projections. But looking at these numbers, there some trends that clearly arise, the most important being a decline from 2005 onwards of the amount of oil coming to the market. This situation is a consequence of consumption growth at higher pace than production in most of oil exporting countries.

Once the amount oil available for export becomes lower than the amount required by the importing countries costs start to rise, forcing an abnormal wealth transfer from buyers to sellers. This newly acquired wealth will improve affluence in exporting countries, which in turn drives up internal consumption (better automobiles, better and farther from center houses, more goods imports and transportation, etc). This feedback loop will perpetuate itself until some event or constraint tackles consumption growth in the exporters' side, or until the importers collapse from lack of new wealth to transfer. The former is the most likely scenario.

For oil importing countries like EU these projections bring a worrisome conclusion: mitigation strategies for oil scarcity should have started taking effect in 2005. For this to happen, planning should have started in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Although programs for liquid hydrocarbons replacement exist in the electric generation sector in the EU, US or Australia, none of these countries seems to have prepared to phase out oil in the transportation sector. In the case of the EU it is also important to note the failure to plan an alternative to nuclear electric generation, an important energy source in some member states, since its stalling due to negative public opinion.

Finally another consequence must be observed: unfortunately, as laid down originally by Colin Campbell (and further improved by the folks at PostCarbon and Rich Heinberg), the Oil Depletion Protocol may only function if exporting countries restrain their oil consumption. Up to the Peak Oil epoch the Protocol can work if exporting countries match their consumption growth to the production, freezing the amount of oil coming on market. After Peak Oil these countries would have to decrease their internal consumption in order to mach the decline rate of world production with that of world consumption. It is hard to envision less wealthy countries reducing their consumption in order to provide oil to wealthier countries. Let's just hope for the best.


First to the TOD editing team for once more making possible this sharing of ideas.

Secondly and most importantly to Colin Campbell, for his time long work on Peak Oil, of which the invaluable country by country assessments, that made this piece possible, are part of.

Make sure to thank lads for this very extensive piece by going over to reddit, digg, metafilter, stumbleupon, or whatever link sharing resource you use and giving this a recommendation.  The icons are up under the title/tags on top of the post.  Thanks!
PG - you need to organise a traing course for US morons across the pond.  I signed up with Reddit - with the intention of voting for myslef several hundred times - but could not work out how to do it.  Sorry for being so dumb.  But there again I wasn't able to produce xl charts either 6 weeks ago :-)  CW
I see you've got the article on slashdot. Never really a source of the best intelligent comment, but I find it interesting to see the vociferous dismissal of the ideas and data from those that can understand a complex idea or two and have much to lose when the power goes out.

There is probably something to be learnt about communication of finite oil concepts by how it is attacked there (they won't hold back).

So far I see appeals to 'cry wolf', appeals to alternative authorities, ideas that peak oil is all the trick of the oil companies, its all fud, its all too far away, future improved extraction techniques increasing reserves and new technology making oil obsolute. A winning argument therefore needs to nail each of these, preferably in a quick and succinct way.

First, many people on slashdot will favor the "but, dude, we have technology!" argument. Many will not understand the difference between a fossil fuels energy source and their laptop.

Otherwise, TOD makes a winning argument everyday. Unless someone is willing to put the time in to understand the issues or, at least, they are open-minded, there is no way to persuade them. This is merely denial, which is common enough -- whether it is slashdot or Forbes.

But maybe we'll catch a few fish here, heh?

For the others, I always love it when people who don't know shit tell us we're wrong.

While I agree that the devil is in the detail, I would suggest that if you expect to have an impact it is key to be able to overcome that - otherwise you will be sitting like Cassandra as everyone blames oil company gouging for $150 per barrel oil.

To my reading it is an issue of scalability, timelines and %age rates. The assumption is that time exists for handwaving technology solutions to match the threat of decline, and indeed overtake it so that dependence on imports can be reduced. It is difficult for people to get a handle on how much and how fast change would have to come, let alone something like EROEI.

In reality its less about the specifics of the particular technologies - more about levels and rates. Is there a pithy way of capturing how extensive and quick the expansion in a particular technology would need to be to address the problem? For tar sands its easy timelines and rates make it obvious its an also ran as far as solutions go.

Just how tractable is coal-to-liquid fuel in terms of mines, plant and cost? Can people be given a simple way to understand how much has to be done to make 1 mb of oil per day?

Re: Can people be given a simple way to understand how much has to be done to make 1 mb of oil per day?


Hello TODers,

Tell them that one barrel of crude = 25,000 hours of physical labor. One gallon of gasoline = 600 hours of back-breaking labor.  Ask them to shovel dirt for 600 hours to 'discover & recover' one gallon for their vehicles: this will hammer home just how rare & precious FFs really are to detritovore existence.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Some factoids off the top of my head that need checking; South Africa is not an industrial heavyweight but CTL puts it at no. 12 on the list of GHG emitters.  The main SASOL plant is drowning in mountains of solid waste so they jumped at the chance to use piped gas from Mozambique instead of coal to ease the bulk handling problem.
A simple to understand way to save ~1.5 million barrels/day of refined diesel.

  1. Electrify US freight railroads, at least the main lines.  Add back double & triple tracks torn out in the 1960s, 70s, 80s.

  2. Put tolls on the Interstate Highways, like that good Republican Eisenhower wanted to.

The worse Peak Oil gets, the more freight ton-miles will flow on non-oil transportation (perhaps still local delivery via truck, but businesses will move onto or build rail spurs for the competitive advantage).

Together, heavy trucks and railroads use ~2.5 million barrels/day of diesel.  Cut that in half is quite doable.  Cut by 3/4 or 80% over time.

Another easy to understand solution.  Look at Washington DC Metro.  See how much oil it saves (40+% commute by it in DC) and how DC area is beginning to cluster around it.  Miami wants to build the same thing (90% of population within 3 miles of a station) bur it will take them 25 years.  Build it within 5 years and two dozen more like it within ten years.  Streetcars in a hundred US cities & towns, then two hundred.

Save several million more barrels/day.

Simple ?

Best Hopes,


Simple ?

Put tolls on the Interstate Highways, like that good Republican Eisenhower wanted to. Perfect, I wish it could happen. Only way to continue the limited access highway system.
We already pay tolls - it's called gasoline taxes and income taxes!
Maybe we could add a check box and line item to form 1040 for those who feel like they want to pay even more taxes. Me - I have had enough of them.
whatever we pay in tolls or gas-related taxes does not begin to cover the true cost of burning fossil fuels for personal transportation.  it is this type of ignorant ego-centricism that will doom the US, and likely the planet, in the PO future.  we need an ethos of sacrifice for the greater good, or there will be no future, or at least not a good one.  tolls seem logical b/c they have an obvious pay as you go feel; if you use the road you help pay for it, if you don't use it you don't pay for it.  but even tolls do not address the "overhead" costs of fossil fuel usage (cost of GHG and related GW, cost of the military to protect oil resources and maintain stability [as it], etc.) except perhaps to marginally decrease driving by driving up the cost.  tolls, like paying reasonable taxes, should be considered a moral and civic duty, not a penalty.
we need an ethos of sacrifice for the greater good, or there will be no future, or at least not a good one.

God, I'd settle for an ethos of sufficiency rather than excess.  Enjoying what you have rather gluttony.  The good news (I think) is we are soo wasteful and gluttonous that if we just take was we need it would make a big difference without ever needing to get to sacrifice.  

Of cource this doesn't apply to the poor countries which are already in states of deprivation.  

While tolls may be a good idea, I think they should be priced according to the fuel efficiency of the car you drive. At least gas taxes have one thing going for them, the amount you pay is directly related to the gas consumed. The question I have is, are trucks really paying fee proportionate to the damage they do to the interstate, including the congestion effects they impose on automobiles?

I-70 through the mountains of Colorado is approaching gridlock even on non ski weekdays. Something has to give, but it does not seem feasible to expand the highway through the mountains.   The economies of all those mountain towns, mostly built up since the introduction of the interstate, are completely dependent upon that highway.  In this case, part of the solution has to be interstate specific. If the gas tax is to be relied upon, there is  no particular disincentive to get out of your car if your destination is say, Vail, coming from Denver.  Since long term solutions like rail won't be available for at least 20 years, wide scale bus transit must occur in order to prevent 24/7, 365 days per year gridlock. Just providing buses, even if subsidized, won't get the job done. Ergo, provide heavily subsidized buses, park and rides,  and impose heavy tolls to get people out of their automobiles.  There will still remain the problem of truck traffic which will have to wait for diversion to rail.


are you related to Sam Street?
Gas taxes and car tax (as we have in the UK, an annual license fee by engine size) are crude taxes, in the sense that they do not tax traffic congestion.

The purpose of road tolls is to tax congestion, that is to say the cost you put onto other people by jamming up the road, (and they put on you).

On the subject of overall taxation, UK gas prices are roughly twice American, the entire difference being tax.  

So say our total tax is $4/gal, and yours is $1/gal.

The estimate is that gas taxes and car taxes are about 1/3rd the total cost to society of driving in the UK: cost of accidents, cost of air pollution (that's not including the cost of global warming).

Just a few notes of caution about DC and Metro.

DC has a population of around 600,000, while the surrounding area of what most people would consider a single region easily has over 2 million inhabitants (Fairfax County alone has more than 1 million inhabitants).

The lack of parking in DC over the years as the open spaces available for offices filled in meant that Metro became more practical. This process is perfectly seen in the L'Enfant Plaza complex, which I sort of grew up with. Originally, parking wasn't hard, access to the interstate system was assured, but as time went on, the density of the government/commercial buildings in the area grew, parking became not only more expensive but also unreliable (and DC's parking enforcers are the one truly efficient branch of that city's government).

However, Metro was also being built, and L'Enfant Plaza plugs into the system very well, and with current plans including tying up with VRE - though the freightyards in Arlington are long gone, to make space for malls, condos, and offices. This meant that many of the federal workers at L'Enfant Plaza could use Metro - however, this did not mean they were using Metro alone.

This is where the 40% number has to be treated with a very  skeptical perspective. No hard numbers to contradict it directly, just some comments on how that 40% may have been arrived at, and a data point or two to set against it.

First, DC is no longer the central goal of most federal workers in the region, though federal workers are still the largest single workforce in DC. Second, even Metro's density (apart from new places like the Ballston corridor in Arlington, or old places like Silver Spring, Maryland) is low, and the buses really not that useful. A lot of people drive to parking lots first, then take Metro to DC. When this number of commuter-riders is compared to the population of DC, the number is likely to approach 40%. (The same is definitely true of VRE and MARC and their light rail function.)

Simply look at the number of cars per hour on the Cabin John Bridge (Woodrow Wilson is more distorted by 95 and its north/south traffic) to get a feel of how many people are driving over a single bridge in an hour compared to the capacity of the entire Metro subway system to carry. Then add in a number of other choke points (DC's bridges for Northern Virginia traffic, for example to give a good estimate of commuters compared to Metro riders), and pretty soon, another picture is likely to emerge - that is, the number of cars in Northern Virginia staying within its boundaries is likely larger than the entire number of cars being used by commuters in DC. And of course, road building remains the favored solution to congestion.

The way most people currently live in the DC metro area means a car is essential. A small but growing number of people do live in areas where not having a car makes sense (though these tend to be inadequate places to raise children - no green/open space at all, for example), but in general, most people consider a car indispensable to how the live, and feel that keeping the car is normal, while changing the way they live is unacceptable - this is hard to grasp for someone who lives in a true city, but a lot of people in a place like Northern Virginia feel that life in a city is to be avoided - what I especially liked was how often I heard and read that the suburbs I grew up in (those demographics are for another time) are now becoming too 'ethnic,' so it was good to live even farther away, among people who were just like you, the way it was decades ago. When people drove big cars, and ignored things like conservation or long term planning, becoming increasingly shrill against other viewpoints, while growing silently frantic as their personal economic situation grew increasingly uncertain or threatening. (I'll stop there, though the fact that a major, stupid war is being fought again, in large part in both cases to defend the American Way Of Life, is also striking.)

I have no experience of New Orleans, but only a few cities in America do not think this way. And yes, it is a huge divider.

Perceptions are changing (too slowly IMHO).  DC Metro was routinely setting new ridership records every week or so all summer long.  No special events (although normal summer boost in ridership from tourists).

A new station was added to the old Red Line, and a series of office buildings (some private, also ATF HQ) sprang up for 3 blocks.

Without Metro, GAO said that they would disperse federal office buildings in the suburbs.  Figure oil consumption with & without Metro !

DC wants to build 40 miles of streetcars to feed Metro and connect neighborhoods.  The Dulles and Purple lines need to be built.  Metro is NOT all it could be !

Miami voted a half cent sales tax to expand Miami Metro from 20 miles (memory) to ~103 miles.  This suddenly made Metro "Hot" from a real estate POV.  During my visit there in 2004, 15 of 23 construction cranes were within three blocks of a Metro station (and signs/excavation for at least two more high rises that I saw).

BTW, anyone been to Miami lately and ridden the Metro ?  Is reale state still booming next to the stations (within 3 blocks).

One of the values of New Orleans is that it is a living example of a high quality of urban life coupled with low energy consumption.  Check out my comments on the contrast with NYC (another low energy city).

Peak Oil will be a large and brutal hammer.  If there is an escape (urban rail, TOD) then people will flock to it.  If there is no escape (typical US post WW II city/suburbs) then people will be beaten down by it.

Best Hopes,



Not to diss New Orleans, as was, is, or will be,


it had one of the highest murder and other crime rates of any US city, was (in)famous for its corruption and civic mismanagement, and some of the poorest urban dwellers in America.

A very special place.  A place of music.  A place so unlike much of America, where you work to live not just live to work.

But an urban idyll?  Hardly.  A desparately poor place, whose major industry was providing a glimpse to a past life, for an America that had moved beyond it.

Contrast that to a 'we all love to hate' city. Las Vegas.  High average income, high unionisation, a place where ordinary people move to and can enjoy the fruits of the American dream.  An invented place, much like America itself.  That high average income and benefits and the correlation with unionisation is no accident-- it is unionisation that has always brought those benefits for American workers, and the absence of same that has meant they do not have it.  A place where black people move to so they can live like whites-- with a place in the suburbs, a car, a steady job, the things the white middle class used to take  for granted.  A place where ordinary people who can no longer afford LA, can move to and buy a house.

Now LV doesn't look 'sustainable' to me-- out in the desert, no water, dependent on cars and cheap flights.  But there it is, and it works, and it delivers both the dark and the bright side of the American dream.

My own view is that with Global Warming, it is more than likely that the US will abandon NO within this century: perhaps a big dike around the French Quarter and a sort of 'Williamsburg-like' historical district, but much of the city will just not be sustainable with the kinds of storms we are likely to experience by the middle of the century.

Watching Toronto struggle with its problems, and Toronto had one of the best transit systems in North America ('ride the Red Rocket'), now seriously financially troubled, I am not sure light rail/ subways work in the modern urb.  A lot depends on whether you can change the zoning, to build the apartments, offices and shopping malls along the streetcar nexuses (nexi?).

But for the 4.5 million people of the Greater Toronto Area (projected to be 8 million before 2050) I think the transit solution will be 'smart car' whether it be minivan taxi systems, road pricing or some combination of car-based measures.

(this written by a man who lives in Europe, and loves Toronto for its old streets and streetcars)

Valuethinker: I live in Toronto. What has happened with the transit system is that the federal and provincial governments have abandoned it. The main Yonge street subway line is crowded 8 am to 7 pm. This line was built in the 60s. Basically Toronto is used as a cash cow for the federal and provincial governments.The method of dividing up property tax revenue was changed so that Toronto taxes could greater support the rest of the province. The only solution would be for the city to break away from the province of Ontario, which is a weight dragging it down.  
Also I think that as the GTA has expanded, the densities have fallen.  I think you need 20k per square mile to economically justify public transit.

The old City of Toronto worked well and had a density that easily justified that (I think 25k people live within half a mile of Yonge and Eglinton alone).

The TTC always ran well and at a profit in the old Boroughs: Toronto, York, East York.  It was never so successful in the post war suburbs (North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke) where the densities are so much lower.

And the suburbs fought against increases in their density-- this is what screwed the Spadina Subway extension (I still remember the bitterly cold day it opened in ?1975?).  There just hasn't been that much development at Glencairn and that.  With the honourable exception of Mel Lastman when he was Mayor of N. York and NY City Centre.

I wonder if the mistake will be fixed on the Shepherd Subway?  Don Mills and that are still pretty low density (condo blocks notwithstanding).

Well, dispersal happens anyways - such as the entire high tech/high security buildings along Rt 28 near Dulles, or the moves to Jefferson County, in West Virginia (a not so little Byrd told them to), and a lot of military plans to shift things from Crystal City (various naval bureaus, for example). GAO is responsible for much, but it is not responsible for military decisions - a very murky area, to put it mildly. And with so much of Homeland Security shrouded in mystery if not blatant graft (see, New Orleans isn't so unique - DC knows all about graft wrapped in Southern manners), a decent overview of what the government is doing is increasingly harder to create.

My point remains that though Metro is working well, and is actually a fairly functional system within its fairly narrow confines, it is only a fraction of the total amount of travel in the region, and until that car travel declines, it will remain a significant factor, but lower than 40% of all commuter trips in the region - and using DC in isolation is deceptive in terms of how many Metro riders reach Metro.

As for the Metro being full this summer - yes, it was, more than I expected. On the other hand, I have been informed by people who work regularly at various federal facilities, all parking at such buildings includes under vehicle inspections and various other time consuming security measures - parking in DC is really, really a major hassle even if you have one of the dwindling number of 'free' parking spaces in government buildings (except Congress - the parking near Union Station is just so cute, and I am sure it will expand as required).

and a lot of military plans to shift things from Crystal City (various naval bureaus, for example).

The move of the military out of Crystal City is he best externally-initiated thing to happen to Arlington in a while.  The majority of the land owners (ie Charles E Smith/Vernado) are chomping at the bit to redevelop the 60's era buildings and re-tenant with commercial enterprises.  The tenants-to-be are also clamering to get Crystal City space once the whole area is renewed.  It's really quite amazing.  We appreciated the Navy folk that were there, but the concrete-canyon decor was not much appreciated (due to lack of sidewalk activation and just plain bad architecture) and that is all being changed for the better.  See link for ongoing planning:

Well, you have read about the traffic impact to the region? This is part of what I mean about Metro and commuting in Northern Virginia.

And yes, Crystal City is the sort of place which needs some improvement to make it inhabitable. Though what a great example of America's vision of the future, ca. 1960/70 - nothing but glass and concrete and cars.

I guess you are referring to BRAC as far as traffic?  You don't hear much about that in Arlington as impact on us is negligable.  I do hear about it in the Fairfax papers and from worried Fairfax residents.  They are moving almost 10,000 employees down to Ft Belvoir and of course all they can think about is which roads and interchanges need to be widened.  There is a slight chance this will spur the construction of the once planned metro spur out to Belvoir, but I'm not holding my breath and anyway, aside from some new housing on Belvoir designed by Torti-Gallas, the offices at Belvoir will be too spread out to support metro access.  

I would say Crystal City needs improvements to make it beautiful, as it is alread inhabited by over 6000 residents and probably 5 times that many office workers.  Quite a bit out of balance for what we like to see at our metro stops, but that is changing.  We just approved a project to convert a large office to residential.  I was dubious about it, but they are totally reskinning the outside and making it work well with the street, and the apartments inside will have very nice high 12 ft ceilings since it is commercial-grade construction.  

Crystal City was named by the majority land-owner after his wife, Crystal so he already thinks it is beautiful - here's his website

Of course, I disagree.  Although, its not mearly the beige, 60's style architecture, it was the philosophy at the time to seperate the cars and pedestrians so Crstal City was designed with a whole network of human tunnels and shops underground as well as many skywalks.  This had the effect of sucking the human life off the street, turning the streets into traffic sewers, and of course as a result they paid little attention to the design of the building at the street level.  The street-level makeover is making the biggest difference to the area with shops and restaurants now opening onto the street in places.  

Arlington resident, Adrian Cronaur (The Good Morning Vietnam guy) and others actually seem to like the underground shops as he documents here:

I haven't been there in over a year, but I have heard that the transformation is well underway and people who live there seem quite happy with it.  It's funny that it is only 2 miles from my house but I haven't been there in so long, but there's plenty to do in my own neighborhood so haven't had the need.  

I wonder if the Miami Metro planners considered AGW's rising waters? But then I see most of south Florida being flooded by 2050.
It's a problem in a lot of places. New York City to be sure.

London as well.  My father actually helped install flood doors in some of the London Tube lines after the war (they could then double as atomic war shelters, which was a concern at the time).

But the Tube already regularly floods.

Our government is always talking about 'joined up thinking' (ie interdepartmental policy coordination).

However the intention is to put new nuclear reactors on existing, licensed reactor sites.  To combat global warming.

It was then pointed out that some of these sites are, on the Environment Department's forecasts, likely to be under water by the middle of the century (at least during a bad storm).

Thats a very apt description of the DC Metro area, a place I came of age in (Reston VA) and promptly fled from when I had the means to.  

Metro has been great in spuring densification near a number of its stops.  Part of that is no doubt economic in nature, encouraged on by the local jurisdictions.  Many of the inner suburbs are quite urban in feel and car use more of a liability than an asset.  However the relative affluence of those areas in conjunction with the extremely dispursed nature of the high paying jobs further out in Tysons, Reston, and across the Potomac along I270 ensure those "urban residents" continued to use their cars.  Immigrants, the poor and those working in DC proper would generally use Metro.  

Then there is this whole issue with these "high density suburbs" that cluster about the landscape, places with urban levels of population density (residential and office towers) plunked down in a distinctly suburban land use patterns (single use zoning) transportation networks (hierarchical).  I blogged that last summer, but my criticism still applies today.

It's an oldie, but goodie introduction to the "sucking chest wound" (as one of my commenters put it) that is metropolitan DC.

The rest of the DC area beyond the Beltway is your garden variety sprawl with little use for public transportation (beyond subsistance level bus service for the indigent, elderly or immigrant).  With the metro "boundaries" reaching to the mountains in the west, the bay in the east and damn near to Fredricksburg in the south, no amount of "public transportation" will rectify this mess.  At least here in the West, topography generally has limited the extent of our sprawl.  Not so there.

Although I left the area in 92 and the East in 96, my family still lives in NoVA so I get to periodically reaccquaint myself with some of the many reasons I left the area when I go to visit.

Your description of urban in the suburban nicely matches 'North York Town Centre' in Toronto.  The post war suburb built a 'downtown' around a new city hall and the original 19th century farm house of high rise condos and offices (and a new subway stop).

It doesn't really work.  People seeking fun go downtown by subway or car, and what you have is a long canyon of buildings, boiling in summer, freezing cold in winter, and massive traffic jams.  No street life to speak of, no atmosphere.

Valuethinker: You summed it up. It is getting a little better, simply because there are an incredible number of condo buildings there now (most built in the last 10 years).More restaurants, bars, but it still doesn't have that downtown feel.
God I remember walking there, looking for a job on hot summer in mid June 1982.  I thought I would melt.

It's still got no character, no cover from the icy cold winds or the blazing sun, no sense of the pedestrian.  You feel completely marginalised by the traffic.  And I've never found a decent restaurant (maybe I am not looking hard enough).

Contrast that to the top of Avenue Road, where you still have the little shops and restaurants along the road and a neighbourhood feel.

Even Bathurst and York Mills has more character, albeit a bit spooky sometimes?  My lawyer has his office in a strip mall up there.

though the freightyards in Arlington are long gone, to make space for malls, condos, and offices.

The true part of this statement is that the freightyyards are gone.  People think I'm strange when I wonder aloud if we will ever need freight yards back some day.  

However, the rest of your statement is misleading.  Of the 45 acres in the freightyard on the Arlington side (we call it the North Tract), about 28 acres will be devoted to a tremendous open-space recreation area with multiple gardens/parks, soccer fields, a world-class aquatics (swimming etc) facility and other indoor recreation.  The exact mix isn't finalized, but the community process and designing is well underway and the funding is already secured through an 80 million dollar bond.

It's true that in the other 18 acres, there will be condo's offices, retail and perhaps some cultural facilities and these will all be connected into the North Tract Rec area as will the rest of Arlington though transit and yes, some parking will be provided.  

This link will take you to the Arlington site where another link goes to the PDF task force report for the North Tract

I am out of date, to put it mildly, but my reference was not to what is planned, but to what existed the last time I went through the various areas, years ago. Especially the park on top of Rt 66 - I actually ate once there years ago just to see if it would be as bad as imagined - it was, which was no surprise.

Arlington (which I lived in for a few years) always struck me as one of the hardest to classify areas in Northern Virginia. Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William / Manassas, Loudoun / Leesburg - not hard to stereotype and fairly easy to predict what they would do. But Arlington? You just never knew - music and art, good food, mixed with fairly poor police and some clear distinctions between north and south.

I understand Arlington is hard to classify.  We are the smallest county in the united states but have statistics and a built form that is looking more like a city in terms of how many restaurants, thatres, offices etc that people  walk to.  North and South (as delineated by Arlington Boulevard) do have a different character, but both "sides" of Arlington have been rapidly changing.  Soon, South Arlington will have its own light rail corridor as a counter component to the heavy rail corridors along Rosslyn/Ballston and along the Potomac.  

Not sure what you mean about the police.  I was upset when the new chief reduced the bicycle patrols because I thought it made them more approachable and the ones in crusiers tend to speed a bit much.  But, they still are not bad at community relations as far as cops go.  

Any TOD person should come out for the Clarendon Day party in the Clarendon Neighborhood of Arlington, Oct 21 - one of the many street festivals that Arlington has - food, bands, arts etc

Here are some pictures from last year:

More info at the Alliance

Remember - I'm out of date. It used to be that Arlington had by far and away the most erratic police in Northern Virginia - you never knew what they would or wouldn't do, what they would or wouldn't tolerate, or what they would ignore or wouldn't ignore, is probably the best way to sum it up. In exchange, the court system wasn't that bad at dismissing charges - they too seemed to realize that the police were not exactly the best.
The largest shortcomings of the DC Metro are that

  1. it was built for commuters as a hub and spoke and now there is MUCH more demand for inter=city travel in DC as almost every neighborhood in DC is, or is becoming a destination where people live,work,shop and play (so there is much more demand to travel between these neighborhoods at non-commute times).  This is also very true of the inner suburbs like where I live in Arlington.

  2. It is busting at the seams in terms of utilization.  The off-peak times are where the peak-times were 20 years ago and the peak times are packed to the gills.  Unfortunately, they made the decision when they built it to not easily allow for adding parallel track so the remedy is limited to adding longer trains (doable, but limited in effect), and making a spot improvement at the Orange/Blue line crossing at the potomac.

DC and the inner suburbs are adding residents quickly, however the biggest by far land-use problem is the lack of affordable housing.  The desire to live in the city and in the close-in, walkable communities is so great that land prices have shot up many-fold over the last 10 years.  This also is squeezing out independent retailers that gave the neighborhoods their character, being replaced by more national chains who can afford space renting at 40-60 a square foot when it used to be 4-10 a sq ft.  

Most of the people swarming back to the city are 20-30 somethings and 50-60 empty-nesters, but there are some with children as well and they are very active in the community.  Arlington public schools are among the best in the country and that attracts a lot of people, also you can get a single family withing walking distance of your school, your daycare, the grocery, movie theatres' restaurants, the metro etc - although it will cost you from 800K and up.  I live in such a house but it was bought 10 years ago when it was a third the price.  

The outer suburbs are a completel different story.  Whereas DC and the inner suburbs put land-use and zoning in place when the metro was constructed to turn the areas around the metro into mixed-use villages, the outer suburbs did very little planning and mostly reacted to the increasing number of single family houses that ate up their farmlands by building and widening roads.  Their metro stops are basically parking lots.  Now Tysons Corner, the most inner of the outer suburbs is trying to become a real downtown since they may get a metro extension, but I'm not too optimistic.  They will have lots of office, retail and residential, but the form of the development and street network will not be very urban.  The attitude of their community is still focussed on people driving rather than making a great place for people first.

I wrote this fast, so apologies for typos etc.

Tysons Corner is definately trying to "urbanize" itself.  Or at least planners are anyway.  Check out their proposed street improvments

It remains to be seen how successful this endevor will be.  If we maintain a degree of order for another 5-10 years as our energy supplies begin to contract -OR- we begin a wholesale re-engineering of our cities in expectation of said decline, then I think Tysons may be kindof neat a decade from now.  Otherwise this planning process will grind on until the collapsing economy kills it off and squatters inhabit the abandoned structures.  Who knows.  I'm just glad I am not there to witness it.

In anycase, I agree Arlington is an attractive place in general.  I've been there a number of times (mostly via Metro) and enjoyed myself.  Too bad the rest of the area is not like that or even better, DC proper.

TOD makes a winning argument everyday.

A winning argument is one that convinces people, not one that you think should convince people.  Failing to understand that fundamental difference is why normal people write you off...

First, many people on slashdot will favor the "but, dude, we have technology!" argument. Many will not understand the difference between a fossil fuels energy source and their laptop.
Yeah, I was surprised by the slashdot geeks' comments as well. Seeing that programming computers is very technical, detailed, and mathematical, I was expecting the /. crowd of nerds to understand and embrace Peak Oil. Instead, it's their unwavering belief in "technological improvements" that will put this "so-called peak oil theory" to the trash bin.
I was absolutely flabbergasted by that thread over at /., you would think that they'd be able to come to grips with this faster than the normal public. matter how many elitist ad hominems you resort to.

Most of the highly-rated serious comments on Slashdot were of the form "for reason X, I don't think their analysis is correct."  If your response to reasonable skepticism is to complain about how stupid Slashdotters must be, then perhaps you have less of an investment in empiricism and more of an investment in faith than you're willing to admit.

I started reading Slashdot the day it was launched. A couple of years ago, a post on Slashdot inspired me to investigate the claims of the peak oil community. I stopped reading Slashdot a couple of weeks thereafter because I no longer cared about the vast majority of the stories they covered. But the "First, many people on slashdot [...]" statement got me curious enough to return to see just how Slashdot readers would react.

If you look at the comments now, they really aren't all that bad. This has to do with the way comments are rated and displayed on the site. If you scroll half-way down the comments, down to where comments with a rating of 1 or 2 start appearing, their will be plenty of chaff with your wheat, but the highly rated comments (which means that Slashdot readers saw their value) really aren't that bad.

Although Slashdot's comment rating scheme is far from perfect, I often wish that TOD had something similar.

Being a programmer, never heard of slashdot before, I peeked over there - a usual mix of comments seems to me. I've tried my own "salesmanship" with the techno-optimist engineers I work with, and they all have their rationalizations why things will turn out okay.

It seems like it all comes down to ignorance. Smart people don't like to admit their ignorance any more than anyone else, so they take logical shortcuts that support their gut feelings - whether optimisic or pessimistic.

Myself, I KNOW I'm arguing from a POV of expecting scarcity in a world that says otherwise. For people who expect abundance, there's NO argument that will convince the future will be otherwise. I imagine if every debate could continue in depth, both sides would have to conclude we just don't know exactly what the facts are.

I don't know how to effectively "argue ignorance" to promote concern and defensive responses, but it seems all I can do. Of course the optimists have FAITH the people in-the-know will keep things humming, and give us fair warning if there's a problem. I'm curious about that too, but my explanation is most technical people are not looking at the bigger picture, but only three steps ahead in their little corner.

I think Heinberg, Simmons, and Hirsh are all pretty good at the ignorance argument, while Campbell, and others who try to PREDICT get into more trouble with the "crying wolf" risks, not that prediction is bad, just that it must somehow state every other sentence its limits.

As a frequent reader of slashdot and this site, it is very intresting to watch the worlds collide.

At this point in time it may turn out that peak oil will be simply an interesting transition period. My own country, Australia, cut petrol consumption by 5% in one year of oil prices above $60/barrel. There are numerous technologies and social constructs available to replace Oil for transportation or at least to use it far more efficiently.

I think for the most part the slashdot crowd see Yet Another Set of Profits of Doom and yawn. Been there, down that.

It's not that I don't think we have a problem, I do. I'm just  rather optimistic that it will be solved in various reasonably unpainful ways.

Yeah, I was surprised by the slashdot geeks' comments as well. Seeing that programming computers is very technical, detailed, and mathematical, I was expecting the /. crowd of nerds to understand and embrace Peak Oil. Instead, it's their unwavering belief in "technological improvements" that will put this "so-called peak oil theory" to the trash bin.

They even discredit their fellow geeks (geologists) and won't listen to those in the know. Oh well, when we start having natural gas issues in the US in a few more years, their PCs will be the first to "powerdown."
I was absolutely flabbergasted by that thread over at /., you would think that they'd be able to come to grips with this faster than the normal public.  Or at least be smart enough to click around and understand that there's myriad views on this site and that everyone's empiricism is respected.

I guess we know better now, eh?  Sad.  

You have a quote in the databse - its hard to get a man to understand something when they are getting paid to nut understand (by Upton Sinclair I believe)

The Slashdot posters are in the technofix camp.   Because they have grown up with that model "always" working.   They live on and off the upper parts of the energy consumption world.

LOL, the nice thing about being uncertain is that I don't have to get upset, defensive, or worried that they might be right.

If they can make it work, more power to them, and no skin off my nose.

It is not like the future is cast in stone.

If they can make it work, more power to them, and no skin off my nose.

Lets say there is a 'magical working' POOF energy source.

Any highly energetic energy source has a history of being a destructive explosive also.

If the world became awash in excessive energy, will man spend alot of that energy attempting to mittigate environmental damage - or just keep the consumption party going?

The tendency of energy sources to be bombs and the consumption-biosphere degradation cycle still looks to me like a skinned, broken or shot off nose.

I suspect we will see more new efficiency options, before we see more new energy "sources."

FWIW, I think the slashdot crowd might be unschooled on oil depletion, but I think there's something to be said for being open to answers ... whatever they prove to be.

"if energy_crisis, do whatever_works"

Slashdotters are lovers of technology, and the concept of Peak Oil tends to rain on their parade. Their preferred form of Armageddon is the Singularity, which is the point at which Artificial Intelligence takes control over humankind. A world with fewer gadgets is just too counterintuitive, so the strong reaction is to be expected. Moore's law is really believed to be one, and that it applies throughout technology.

Also, while SDers can deliver good commentary on computer related topics, their knowledge (and appreciation) of other fields is not always that deep.

Technopriests (or Technojunkies) are in love with the exponential curve, probably more so than economists. If you want to see a lot of exponential curves, check the website of Ray Kurzweil who has predicted the next technological singularities:

Ironically, Peak Oil is likely to occur also around 2013!

Will this new human brain do something about Global Warming?

Because if it doesn't the future could really be an abstraction.

We'll make an interesting archaeology Phd thesis for some future visitor from another civilisation.

I have quite a bit of experience with Slashdot. My advice is to browse the comments with the threshold set to 5 (don't forget to click "Change"). Otherwise you waste plenty of time sifting through trolls and, you know, ignorant loudmouths.

Oh, and don't take anything personally over there.

I find the recurrent Peal Oil debate makes me sad. I say this as someone with a degree in Mineral Economics and with a background as an educator. The main problem with most of the Peak Oil debates is that people jump on the bandwagon with limited knowledge of the industry, let alone economics or basic resource geology. Some of the replies on Slashdot give eloquent explanations of why we are not currently at Peak Oil, let alone near it.

No one denies that resources of fossil fuels are finite. Note that resource indicates the total endowment of a mineral (metals, non-metals or energy fuels) on earth, which is clearly finite in a geologically short timespan. The concept of reserves takes a moment longer to understand. Reserves basically represent how much of a particular mineral resource (let's say oil) is known with a degree of certainty, and economically viable to extract at the current price. There are two key elements here...

  1. that the reserve is known;
  2. it is economic at current prices.

Reserve data are highly mutable... if the oil price were to drop to US$20/bbl for WTI the world reserve base instantly declines, while a rise in prices achieves the opposite. If oil companies spend more dollars on exploration the known reserve base will also increase as new fields are discovered (e.g. the massive field recently discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, which is only economic at our currently highish price of oil).

If one takes a couple minutes perusing the BP oil slides one notices a very interesting one. Despite oil consumption relentlessly increasing over the last few decades, the oil reserves to consumption ratio graph shows that we have had a reserve/production ratio of 40 years for the last two decades. That is to say that we have enough known reserves to supply the world oil needs at current production rates for 40 years. And guess what, at the much lower consumption rates of 20 years ago the picture was exactly the same.

What does this tell you? There is no incentive for oil companies to map out the next 200 years worth of oil reserves. It would be wasted exploration funds that could be better spent elsewhere. They spend the funds to keep the reserve inventory nicely stocked (40 years is a nice comfortable margin) and then attend to spending funds elsewhere.

I haven't even talked about substitution effects here. In my opinion, I think it far more likely that the world will have substituted away from non-renewable fossil fuels due to global warming concerns, long before any threat of Peak Oil rears its ugly head.

This concept, of reserves being based on price rather than geology, has been touched on at this site previously but probably has not been addressed in sufficient depth.  However I think there is a counter-issue that may make the notion of economic reserves irrelevant.  That is the concept of big reserves being found before small reserves combined with the notion that unlike other mineral resources oil, coal and ng are not constrained by price only but also by EROEI.  I don't know where these concepts converge but like love and marriage "you can't have one without the other".

Separately, but related, some day the techno-freaks are going to have to come to terms with the un-paid-for costs of technology: water resource damage, loss of biodiversity, etc, etc.

Using one oil company's (BP's) PR tool for an explanation of how well we are secured for oil supplies is risky, especially when the company has not the best record for telling the truth to either the public or the US government.  Note that the fiasco in BP's Alaska field was partially the result of giving false information.
The second piece of evidence that would put the above "40 years supply rule" in question is that every year's oil consumption is only replaced with 1/3 as much reserves addition.  I suspect the BP figures may include oil sources that are technologies that will never be brought to market like oil shale.  Furthermore, the reserve numbers of nearly every OPEC member has grown by a factor of two in the 1990's without explaination by further exploration or reanalyzing exploration data.  This lack of transparency (recently rescinded by Kuwait when they cut their oil reserves in half after reexamining data) shows that current world reserves are questionable.  
The last important factor in peak oil is production capability.  Saudi Aramco is working like there is no tomorrow to increase capacity from 10 MBPD to 12 MBPD and it will cost many tens of billions of $$$.  How are they ever going to reach the 18 MBPD figure the EIA says KSA will have to reach to satisfy world needs by 2025?  And I have not even brought up the issue of costs both in environmental remediation and actual dollars to bring any oil shale to market.  Most of the oil shale deposits, which many optimists like to count as reserves, will likely remain forever "horizon technologies", never being brought to market because the cost of production continually goes up as fast or faster than the value of the resource.
Reserves are a very slippery notion. For a good analysis, see Stuart Staniford's post
'Do Reserves Tell Us Anything?'

IMO reserves are at best a SWAG.

Oil is different from copper.  The price of copper highly influences the quantity of reserves, copper has a high price elastcity of supply over time.

Oil has a very low price elasticity of supply.  There is very little more oil available at $75/barrel than at $25/barrel.

One example.  Compare 1972 Texas with 1982 Texas.  Price increased by a factor of 10.  Record drilling boom, result 14% more producing wells AND -30% less production.

A decade is "long enough" for any price elasticity effects to take hold.  New technology was developed and used.

Today, Texas produces about 25% of what it did in 1972.  And $100/barrel will not increase that to 27%. (Natural decline will offset any production increases due to higher prices in any time frame).

Saudi Arabia is VERY close to where Teas was in 1972.  They are frantically drilling, on and off-shore.  But decreases due to depletion are likely to balance any new wells.

Mexico will produce less next year, and even less in 2008, 2009 ... regardless of price.  $300/barrel will not make Mexican oil production in 2009 greater than 2005.

The quantity of oil produced in 2025 is difficult to forecast (lower than today in convential production for sure) but there are uncertainites on what could develop in 18.5 years.  OTOH, production in 2013 is not subject to as many uncertainities.  Major new projects that will go on-line by then have to be either started by today or in VERY serious planning.

Best Hopes,


The other major difference between copper and oil is that much if not most of the copper ever mined by the human race is still being used by the human race. (The same applies to most metals which do not easily corrode, like gold or aluminum - in this case, copper has a strange middle position, by virtue of its precious metal aspect.)

However, most (though not all - look at junked tire mounds as left over crude) oil if pumped by the human race is now adding C02 to the atmosphere.

These are not trivial differences, though for a lot people with an economic bent, they don't seem to exist at all.

If one takes a couple minutes perusing the BP oil slides one notices a very interesting one. Despite oil consumption relentlessly increasing over the last few decades, the oil reserves to consumption ratio graph shows that we have had a reserve/production ratio of 40 years for the last two decades. That is to say that we have enough known reserves to supply the world oil needs at current production rates for 40 years. And guess what, at the much lower consumption rates of 20 years ago the picture was exactly the same.
I wouldn't take too much comfort from the apparently stable R/P ratio. This is essentially an illusion brought about by subscription to the "economic view" of oil. It's a systemic failure that Roger Bentley covered earlier this year.
Roger Bentley: Global Oil and Gas Depletion

...which comes about through using "proven reserves" to represent future ultimate recovery when they absolutely don't show that, their use this way leads to the flawed economic view of oil.

Bulldust, I would be interested to hear you opinions on the Bentley paper.

Thanks for the reference. I am just done reading the paper and Roger raises some great points and thought-provoking concepts. I feel he lets down a wonderful piece at the end by glossing over various "schools of thought" regarding hydrocarbon depletion. I am inclined to read some of the other references to see whether the Peak Oil case gains some weight in my mind, but I am far from convinced that this theory should carry any more weight than some of the other schools of thought at this stage.

Personally I would not classify individuals into groups this way for the sake of casually dismissing their arguments holistically (though one might debate I did this with my original post :). Roger points out several flaws with commonly quoted data. Clearly we have an imperfect view of what lies under the surface of the earth. I think we all agree on this point.

The point I was trying to raise is that resources are not known, and there are many factors at play at any given point in time (let alone across several decades of history) that affect what is economically viable to extract (i.e. reserves). The fact that we don't have good data for reserves does not mean that the concept of reserves and resources is a poor one... it just means we have a poor measurement of them.

Given that we have a poor measure of the ultimate potential of the earth to yield any particular resource, is it not virtually impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy when the turning point will eventuate in the production of said resource?

Just some thoughts... I may have to dust off Hubbert for a little review, it's been a while.

PS> Roger Bentley is the Technology Director for Whitfield Solar (

You cannot predict the moment.  You'll only know it when you look back.

But what will happen once that threshold is crossed is something one ought to worry about.  Because the change will be dramatic.

Is peak oil 2005, 2025 or 2050?

I lean towards the middle date.  But that is not a long time to think about alternatives (it's also there or there abouts the point of complete no return on Global Warming-- if we haven't crossed that already).

the known reserve base will also increase as new fields are discovered (e.g. the massive field recently discovered in the Gulf of Mexico, which is only economic at our currently highish price of oil)

I see that you have been taken in by the MSM and the 50% owner Chevron.  To quote from the 25% owner, Statoil of Norway,
Test results are very encouraging and may indicate a significant discovery. The full magnitude of the field's potential is still being defined.

Statoil and its partners plan to drill another appraisal well in the Jack structure in 2007.


The partners [Devon, Statoil & Chevron] plan to drill another appraisal well at the site in the Walker Ridge Block in 2007. A decision whether to develop Jack may be made in 2007 or 2008, Statoil's Mellbye said. The [Jack] field would start production in 2013  IF development goes ahead, he said...

My emphasis added
Please note that Statoil is 5/8ths owned by the Kingdom of Norway and they are less interested than Chevron in impacting US public perceptions and elections.

The discovery, a mixture of oil & gas, for the entire field, not just Jack, is 3 to 15 billion barrels of oil EQUILAVENT.  This makes it a large but not a massive discovery.  A few months of world oil consumption plus a lot of natural gas.

Again it is NOT a "massive" discovery !

Best Hopes,



Thank you for you comments Bulldust.

This post is not on reserves or resources, it has no pretensions on leading with that, it just projects into the future current trends in consumption and production.

If one takes a couple minutes perusing the BP oil slides one notices a very interesting one. Despite oil consumption relentlessly increasing over the last few decades, the oil reserves to consumption ratio graph shows that we have had a reserve/production ratio of 40 years for the last two decades. That is to say that we have enough known reserves to supply the world oil needs at current production rates for 40 years. And guess what, at the much lower consumption rates of 20 years ago the picture was exactly the same.

This is a well known phenomenon, in the case of the US, R/P is 10 years since the 1920s, which of course leaves you clueless on the peak in 1970 and the subsequent decline. Considering that consumption is changing globally R/P is quite a valueless measure.

The work of Hubbert allows us today to project in the future the curve of production without knowing the Ultimate Recoverable Reserves. Moreover URR is an output of the Hubbert Method not and input. For more on this please read prof. Deffeyes' "Beyond Oil".

Going back to the 40 years R/P, that assumes an URR of about 1200 Gb for Liquids (Crude + NGPL). Crude Remaining Reserves stand today at 800 Gb, after peaking in 1979 at 1100 Gb. So that leaves you with 400 Gb in Remaining Reserves of NGPL, how plausible is that?

Peak Oil is about Production, not about Reserves. Crude Reserves peaked in 1979; what we are searching here at TOD is the Peak in Crude and Liquids Production.

If you are so interested in reserves I invite you to read Jean Laherrère's "Peak oil and related peaks!":

Part 1
Part 2

Re: The concept of reserves takes a moment longer to understand. Reserves basically represent how much of a particular mineral resource (let's say oil) is known with a degree of certainty, and economically viable to extract at the current price. There are two key elements here...

  1. that the reserve is known;
  2. it is economic at current prices.

I shall skip your insulting insinuation that we don't know what reserves are. Read the Bentley paper that Chris recommends above.

As a mineral economist, you present the oversimplified arguments -- like the IEA -- that oil just magically appears solely as a function of price. You have missed at least four salient points -- there are others, as well --

  1. the difference between reserves and production flows (measured, for example, in millions of barrels per day)

  2. geological & technical constraints on production flows

  3. the discoveries trend -- oil discoveries peaked in the 1960's

  4. declines in old, existing fields e.g. Cantarell, Greater Burgan, Daqing, etc. -- you need to know that the global oil production decline rate. We are trying to get a handle on that. I've seen numbers anywhere from 2% to 8%. It's becoming a Red Queen problem -- you must run harder & harder to stay where you are

I could go on, talking about marginal costs because the easy-to-produce oil that built the world you inhabit is gone, etc. For now, just keep these rules of thumb, stated by geologist Greg Croft, in mind

  • Production and historical production are facts.
  • Reserves are an opinion.
  • Undiscovered resources are a fantasy.

The peak of global oil considers the topping out of production. There are hydrocarbons everywhere and you are right, some are economic to produce at a certain price. But others will never get produced at any price or their production is very hard regardless of price. Consider Kashagan in Kazahkstan. When this field was discovered in 2000, various estimates put its recoverable reserves at anywhere between 9 and 17 Gb (billions of barrels). Right now, the view is that there is a 13.4 Gb URR. However, due to the geological and physical context of the discovery, the world has never seen a barrel of oil from there yet and the date at which that is scheduled to happen keeps moving further and further out into the future. We will see some flows from Kashagan -- but how much and in what timeframe? That is a peak oil question.

I have dealt with all this, as has Stuart Staniford, HO and others. You can click on any of our names in the right side-bar and read through the various stories we have published. But you probably won't because, unlike Dr. James Hamilton, an excellent economist, you appear to be one of those Cornucopian economists that thinks the "free market" will always provide. It is just a question of price, right? That's how they teach in school.

"I find the recurrent Peal Oil debate makes me sad. I say this as someone with a degree in Mineral Economics and with a background as an educator. The main problem with most of the Peak Oil debates is that people jump on the bandwagon with limited knowledge of the industry, let alone economics or basic resource geology. Some of the replies on Slashdot give eloquent explanations of why we are not currently at Peak Oil, let alone near it."

I think you may have wandered on to the wrong site. The key proponents of peak oil on this site are well versed with knowledge of the industry, economics, engineering, and oil specific geology.  Whether there are some people jumping on the bandwagon is irrelevant. On this site, you are required to confront some formidable experts, including some who have spent decades in the oil industry.

Your discussion of reserves is pedantic, at best, and hardly needs to be pointed out to most of the people who frequent this site. Again, I think you may have mistaken this site for those sites which consist  mostly of neophytes.

As to the substitution effect, thus far we have mainly exercised that option by substituting foreign oil for domestic oil.  Higher prices did little or nothing to stem the tide of peak oil within the U.S.  We continue to slide.

Yes, there are all kinds of potential substitutions. It does not necessarily follow, however, that these subsitutions will be sufficiently inexpensive to run a world wide energy intensive economy without wrecking the planet with global warming. One of the popular subsitutions is coal.  Ironically, oil is and was a substitution for coal. Now we are going backwards at great environmental cost. Just because we get substitutions doesn't mean we are making progress.

You are like me-- you're thinking the Hotelling Model of Resource Exhaustion (also that famous paper by Solow).

Where the depletion curve is a smooth time curve up to the right (time t on the X axis, price p on the Y axis).

The problems are:

- uncertainty.  Solow says that the last barrel or pound of an exhaustible resource, will be consumed at the moment when the price hits infinity.

But we don't know when that is.  So our assumptions about developing alternative supplies may be wrong.  The actual price path could be extremely jagged.

- substitutability.  the model also predicts alternative sources will come in, as prices rise.

To some extent (Canadian oil sands) that is happening.  Conversely, it's pretty clear there aren't enough substitute technologies now to substitute for even a significant fraction of our oil and gas consumption (other than coal, which has its own set of issues).

So if oil production ceases rising, or even just doesn't rise as fast as we think it will, the price of oil could go to the stratosphere.

The other point, which Deffyes makes very well (and why his first book is worth a read), and so does Simmons (see the powerpoints on Simmons & Co website) is that higher prices does not lead to higher (conventional) production.  US real oil prices have been far higher post 1972 than pre 1972, but domestic lower 48 oil production peaked in 1972 and has followed a remorseless slide since.

This despite the greatest revolution in oilfield drilling since the late 19th century: horizontal drilling and real time 3D imaging.

So the smartest people in the world, with the best equipment, have dug more wells in the US than ever before in history, and found less oil and gas.  Despite the highest real prices ever experienced.

that should give one pause on cornucopian arguments about conventional oil and gas supplies.

It looks like we are well up that Hotelling curve.

Conversely, it's pretty clear there aren't enough substitute technologies now to substitute for even a significant fraction of our oil and gas consumption (other than coal, which has its own set of issues)

I would dispute that.  Given the massive increases in energy efficiency by going with electrified rail, wind and other renewables (geothermal, some more hydro, solar PV even) OR just conservation could supply the electricity to replace, say, half the oil used for transprtation easily.

Most recent data has 0.17% of US electricity going for transportation.  NYC's 8,000 subway cars, Amtrak's Northeast corridor, Chicago, Boston, DC Metro, SF BART, and every other existing urban rail system = 0.17%

Multiple by a factor 50 and new renewables could still "carry the load" with a 20 year build up in both electrified rail and renewable production (or conservation, or both).

Best Hopes,


I'm not a big believer in urban light rail (as opposed to being an enthusiastic user, when I can find it!  Toronto, Manchester, practically anywhere in Germany or Central Europe).  I'll explain why below but permit me a diversion.

One of the most moving moments of the BBC TV series 'People's Century' stories by the people who survived the 20th century:

is when the credits roll - the camera rolls up a street that could be 1910 Vienna with the streetcars (trams), it keeps running down that street...

it rolls on into the nightmare of the trenches...

and then the slums of the 30s...

and then the devastated war torn cities of Europe...

and past the guard tower at Auschwitz...

and towards the Berlin Wall... and at the end, the break in that wall.
Those trams are a symbol of a world that once was, a closer, tighter world, of Vienna cafes and dance halls in Potsdammer Place in Berlin.

Why not now?  The costs of new lines are phenomenal, and the economics never work out without heavy state subsidy.

The TTC's proposed St. Clair "streetcar right-of-way" (reservation) would upgrade the existing St. Clair streetcar line, currently running in mixed traffic, for 6.7 km (4.2 miles), from Yonge St. to west of Keele St. - an improvement expected increase the streetcar service's speed (6 minutes per end-to-end trip) and safety, and to attract significantly higher ridership. The projected cost of Canadian $65 million (US $52 million, or about $12 million/mile) includes replacing the line's worn trackage, construction to rehabilitate crumbling infrastructure, plus streetscaping, parks, lighting, and other urban amenities added to win public approval.
[Toronto Sun, 30 Sep. 2004; Eye, 29 May 2004]

$12m bucks a mile, for a service that is already there.

We are too spread out, and too devoted to personal transport.

Electrification?  Maybe.  Don't see it, but if there was a crisis...

I followed St. Clair closely because it mirrored what a Public Works engineer and I came up with.

Build the Desire Streetcar Line on North Rampart Street (edge of French Quarter, uber-historic) with a 36' wide (now 20') neutral ground (median to y'all), one traffic lane & one bicycle lane on each side vs two traffic lanes as part of a city streetrebuilding project.  The street was "scheduled" to be rebuilt @2015 (last rebuild ~1905), but we would move that up.  Use historic lights as streetcar trolley wire supports.

Marginal cost if combined with street rebuilding ?  About $1 million for 1.5 miles for track & overhead supports.  Mayor Nagin was going to announce this ~45 days after Katrina as part of his re-election effort.  (I do good smart things that you like, vote for me).

This effort has survived but has to wait for more immediate rebuilding efforts.

You make it sound like $12 million a mile is expensive.  Just look at the costs of road projects & maintenance !

Or the $5 trillion plan by Hirsch, Bezdek & Wendling !

$5 trillion would buy 416,667 miles of streetcar lines.

BTW, Portland has developed technique (I took class @ Portland State on it) to build streetcar track for $300 per foot.  I think that any urgent/crash effort should involve learning how to build cheaper (& better).

I had a draft letter for DC DOT to send to New Orleans proposing such a collabrative effort when Katrina hit.  At my suggestion, a DC DOT engineer joined me at the Portland State short course.

There is much unmeet demand for specific lines (~$120 billion) in the US.  All these lines are worth building in a post-Peak Oil scenario.  Start there and expand, modifying as one develops the infrastructure.

France is building a tram line in almost every city of 250,000 and two lines in cities of 500,000.  (Voting correctly helps).  The US could to.

Some bad investments in suburban sprawl may not make it but ...

Best Hopes,


Very nice post, It's gonna take me a while to digest it!

In most cases the numbers of each source for daily production do not match, Campbell's assessments focus on Conventional Oil, while BP's historical data on "All Liquids" (a somewhat loose definition which includes Liquefied Natural Gas and other non-specified liquids).

I think you are talking about NGPL (or Natural Gas Plant Lqiuid) and not LNG which is Liquid Natural Gas. BP numbers are not "all liquids" but Crude Oil + lease condensate + NGPL. They do not include "Other liquids" such as Oxygenates and refinery gains.
From the BP workbook:

* Includes crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and NGLs (natural gas liquids - the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately).                                       
  Excludes liquid fuels from other sources such as coal derivatives.   
You're right. The non-specified liquids are derived from Oil Shale, Tar Sands, Heavy Oil and Deepwater Oil.       
I agree, it's confusing, also NGL= NGPL + lease condensate.
Hello Lads,

Terrific writeup!  I just posted on Reddit to help bring more eyeballs to gaze upon this masterpiece.  I was hoping to go to bed here in a few minutes, but now I know I will restlessly toss and turn considering the ramifications arising from the importing countries' predicaments.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Well done, Lads.

Figure 23 defines the export peak as opposed to the production peak. It shows two things -- subject to leaving out Iraq, Nigeria and Angola.

  • exports comprise 36/mbpd, 43% of the total  =  84/mbpd
  • the export peak is in 2005/2006 (now)

The most important conclusion is this:

Once the amount oil available for export becomes lower than the amount required by the importing countries, costs start to rise, forcing an abnormal wealth transfer from buyers to sellers. This newly acquired wealth will improve affluence in exporting countries, which in turn drives up internal consumption (better automobiles, better and farther from center houses, more goods imports and transportation, etc). This feedback loop will perpetuate itself until some event or constraint tackles consumption growth in the exporters' side, or until the importers collapse from lack of new wealth to transfer. The former is the most likely scenario.
Unfortunately, here I must differ with you. Oil wealth is disproportionately shared in the exporting countries and does not necessarily lead to greater affluence there leading to higher internal consumption rates. In fact, there is the "curse of oil wealth" which paradoxically creates poverty & social dependency in exporting nations. This is because oil wealth drives out other domestic industries, creates large foreign worker contingencies and is dominated by corruption. These -- and other factors -- comprise the "curse". There are many references on this subject.

Still, the transfer of money you discuss does take place -- the disagreement is over whether that wealth will drive up consumption in the exporting countries.

How will this play out? I believe that -- as you surmise -- the "importers collapse from lack of new wealth to transfer". This contributes to recession because it is like a "tax" on the importers, which leads to lower demand in the those nations. I discuss in The Specter of Recession. There, I argued that there is good reason to believe that the OECD countries are already in deep trouble. It ties in nicely with your post.

There is much to say about all this which I will not attempt to do off the top of my head. Good job.

-- Dave

Thanks Dave.

All data point to an increase in consumption in exporting countries from 2002 to 2005, the only exception is Denmark.

Poor or rich they all spend more oil. I'm particularly familiar with the situation in Angola, in spite of the democratic process being suspended and corruption being endemic, consumption is simply skyrocketing.

I would agree with you if the data pointed that way.

Oh, I don't deny that consumption rises in the exporters. However, even the data sets you cite are very uneven. It is a question of what the most important effect is. Look at the consumption trend, not the change rates. I am excluding OECD countries with advanced economies who are not subject to the "curse".

Look at the FSU (Russian, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan), Mexico, Malaysia, Ecuador, Argentina, Columbia, Venezuela -- mostly flat. Look at Algeria, Kuwait, UAE, Algeria -- modest internal consumption growth. Exceptions? Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran.

Sorry, but I don't believe you can extrapolate your change rates into the future. Look for an "S-shaped" curve in many cases -- and be mindful of the scale.

Sorry, but I don't believe you can extrapolate your change rates into the future. Look for an "S-shaped" curve in many cases -- and be mindful of the scale.

I may extrapolate fixed rates into the future; I'll just have to be careful with the conclusions taken.

As for the S-curve, maybe another time (a not so simplistic one).

P.S.: Remember that in a limited zone of the S-curve the rate looks like fixed.

Well, really, it is a very important issue here, right?

PS: sure in a limited scale the S-shape looks flat. See the EIA data below.

best --

God damn it, Lads, now you've got me really interested. Let's look at some countries (from the EIA)

S-shaped at these scales

would be S-shaped if it went back further in time, I think

mature country, here you are seeing the tail end of the S-shape

just plain flat, really

mature country, same as Mexico, actually down since 1995

Interesting how you produce all these images so fast.

I promise the next time I won't use simple fixed rates. But for now that's what we have.

What? I stole them!  

I will report you!
The drop on the consumption curves has a lot to do with global economic effects.  In 2001 to 2003 many countries were experiencing a recession, with some exporting "third world countries" having a very hard economic time due to LOW oil prices.  Recent trends in the past two years have shown countries like Mexico and Venezuela having great increases in automobile ownership.  Articles in Business Week have pointed out that oil export induced economic growth has produced more wealth amount the middle class resulting in a large percentage of those populations having the income to buy homes and cars.  
In some cases the governments of oil producing countries have embarked on economic development like expanded airlines and tourist destination (Dubai of UAE).  These factors will lead to higher internal oil consumption, unless the price of oil drops to a point where these countries cannot afford to "spread the oil wealth".
I think you meant this kind of curve. ;o)

Personally, I am looking forward to what have you. Nice effort.

I believe that -- as you surmise -- the "importers collapse from lack of new wealth to transfer". This contributes to recession because it is like a "tax" on the importers, which leads to lower demand in the those nations.
All the more reason to tax that transfer at the consuming nations' ends.

I'm all for $5/gallon motor fuel tomorrow (and I'm a US citizen, never lived elsewhere).  Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's high enough, soon enough.

I think there are different typologies of governance among oil producing nations, which need to be analyzed separately to make adequate projections.

  1. The kleptocratic model : an elite which controls state apparatus and the oil industry, confiscates most of the oil wealth, and does not even seek to maximize national profit (corruption favours sweetheart deals with foreign oil companies). There is little trickle-down economic development because they tend to invest their money outside the producing country.  This, I submit, is the model which produces a maximal proportion of export with respect to production. Examples include Nigeria, Congo/Brazzaville, Khazakhstan...

  2. The distributive model : the government, of whatever form (democratic or enlightened despotism), seeks to maximize local economic development from oil wealth. Mechanisms may include : striking harder bargains with oil companies or nationalising production; subsidising local prices for oil products; massive investment in education and economic development.

I have a feeling that the distributive model is spreading, which will tend to accelerate the decline of net exports. Countries which have changed their orientation would seem to include Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Angola, arguably Russia?

The economic interest of oil-consuming nations will be to favour the kleptocratic model. Democracy in the Congo is bad for business.

Distributive model: Alberta and Norway and Australia.

If you look at the dispersion of wealth, income life expectancies, I am not even sure you could include Texas and Oklahoma in the above.  Dubai is probably in here somewhere.  UK and Netherlands in there too, maybe.

Kleptocratic model: everyone else.  See especially Angola, Sudan, Nigeria, KSA, all the oil states.

Maybe third model:

Populist - give the money away, whilst you have it, to buy political popularity.  Bolivia, Venezuela.

Best post I've seen, very important topic for one, such as myself, living in an oil importing state. I agree, much credit to the authors and colin as well.  Hope this study is occasionally updated.

And, credit to westtexas for raising the issue some time ago.

This certainly explains the price increases in 05/06, but not the recent decline, even accepting that volatile means down as well as up.  It is interesting that every source talks about large world wide stocks, when the truth is that oecd stocks, which includes the US, are at a ten-year low, and down 30mmb from a year ago per eia.  While no doubt influenced by the logical crash in NA ng stocks, the odd combination lends some credence to manipulation, eg at goldman, which I earlier pooh-poohed.

This certainly explains the price increases in 05/06, but not the recent decline, even accepting that volatile means down as well as up.

It does explain all if you consider prof. Deffeyes being right on is Queue Theory for energy prices.

It's interesting to see all the mini-peaks leading to the big production peak.  We've probably already seen peak light sweet, peak conventional, peak exports, or, as I like to refer to them, the 3 horsemen of peak oil.  Only the fourth is still remaining.  
It seems a bit obvious, but.....

Oil as a driving mechanism of the global economy first raised the US's economic boat as we were the largest exporter of oil for quite some time, even taking oil from other countries and adding that wealth to our own. As our production slowed and others picked up and as others nationalized their production, the US has been eating into its bank of stored oil wealth on its great consumer binge.

As other countries go through the same process we did, they will go through their consumer binge, and we, the US, will slide down the economic bannister and become just another third world country. The tide shifts.

That this would happen always seemed a given if you simply followed the logic and assumed that economic rules apply to everyone and that humans remain humans even if they live outside of the US. (For an American, that may be difficult to believe.)

I appreciate the time you took to prove the sun rises in the east, but come on, who couldn't figure out, with a cursory glance at history, that oil/energy-producing economies grow?

I appreciate the time you took to prove the sun rises in the east, but come on, who couldn't figure out, with a cursory glance at history, that oil/energy-producing economies grow?

That wasn't the purpose of this post.

The purpose was to tell us we are all DOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!!!!

Actually, once again, I feel compelled to point out that we arent at peak oil production at all by historical standards.  We have had 3 of these 'peaks' in the last decade.  The only reason this one gets so much attention is because of Stuart and the timing with Deffeyes rant.

But on a lighter not, I've started sharpening some stones as I expect to be ahead of the game when we return to the stoneage in 2020, al la Deffeys!

hothgor,(note the lower case), stop being such a Cock-Spit(note the upper case). Why the hell do you always bring up alleged facts and nothing to back them up. You only come on to this site to make up for that "needle dick" you got. Go out, get laid (pick a spieces) and stop wasting your time and ours. You remind me of that kid who always got the shit beat out of him for lunch money and now you want to get back at society, YOU are Fate's bitch. Next time i read about some dry, unused virgin in their 50's cracking domes with a high powered rifle i will think of you.
Always nice to hear from Oil CEO's cousin.
Cherenkov: The USA might become a third world country, but it will not be "just another third world country".The USA's ability to churn out billionaires and megamillionaires (>100 mill net worth) has not been affected by decreasing energy availability per capita, and has actually picked up speed over the last 20 years. It is on pace to become somewhat of a new type of society, like a Mexico on steroids.        
That's right.  We'll be the third world country with all the lawyers.  Wealthy folks feel comfortable living in a country where freedom is the freedom to sue and the rabble are too busy fighting a public school curriculum including Darwin and sex education to busy themselves revolting in the streets against their rich masters.  Far too little is made of our relatively stable US legal system and its many protections for the wealthy.
But, if you're wealthy, you can't have too many protections... Actually, bush did a great job persuading the majority that the tax cuts would either benefit them (because they are rich) or would in the future (because they would someday be rich.)
JKissing: Like they say, if you are rich in America the government protects every buck you make and every shit you take.
One of those news bit surveys they put together - 18% of people thought they were in the top 1% of earners.  Of those that didn't think they already were, 19% thought they would be in the top 1% some day.

This was several years ago when Bush was pushing tax cuts and the Dems were insisting on a tax increase on the top 1%.  It gets a lot of preasure because over 1/3 of the people think it will directly affect them.


"That this would happen always seemed a given if you simply followed the logic and assumed that economic rules apply to everyone and that humans remain humans even if they live outside of the US. (For an American, that may be difficult to believe.)"

I think that is somewhat of a naive statement.  Any economic rules that exist in this game are made up as the players move along.  OPEC, the US and all involved stakeholders act in underhanded methods to accomplish what they want.  It is not so simple as "the US is out of oil" and will become a third world country.  Simply we have a 100 year headstart on much of the world economically and militarily.  I see no sign in the current administration or any future administration that we will concede powers.  Also we have a lot of coal and nukes.  

So in the future cherenkov you may have to use ethanol or synthetic diesel to burn your flag, but that flag will still fly over a superpower.

Oilrig: You summed it up. When a third of the country is living like the poor of New Delhi, the USA will still have the world's most formidable military, along with superpower status.

Break down in simple terms how you get from where we are now to 1/3 of the US population living in New Delhi conditions.  I think well before that occurs global warming will make canada build a border fence for their immigration problem.  


Oilrig: You're right- I was exaggerating. I should have said "even if a third of the population is living in a sewer" the USA will still be a superpower. I was piggybacking on Deffeyes' doomer comments like "in 2020 we will be in the Stone Age". If he is right, IMO, the USA will still be a superpower with a superpower's military might (even if clean drinking water is hard to find for the shmucks).
He actually clarified that statement, in his following update to his web site.  Stone age was not really stone age.
Odo: I know. I was just saying that IMO, any "collapse" of American society will not include the "collapse" of the American military.  
>Oilrig: You summed it up. When a third of the country is living like the poor of New Delhi, the USA will still have the world's most formidable military, along with superpower status.

But probably will be unable to direct that military power overseas. Much of the US military hardware is deplendant of fossile fuels. The two branches of the US military that is can affectively deliver military power overseas are the US Air Force and the US Navy. The US Air force is 100 percent dependant of liquid fossil fuels and only a minor fraction of the US Navy's surface fleet is Nuclear powered. The rest use liquid fossil fuels. US carriers are nuclear powered but the planes are not.

While its possible to produce liquid fuels from FT, the US military is deplendant on the US economy for logistical support. I believe it will be very difficult for the US to project military power overseas effectively once imports fall below 20 to 25%.

Finally if an major fuel shortages occur in the US, the US military may be required to to maintain law and order which could prevent ground troop deployment overseas.

TechGuy: You make good points, but I think you are underestimating the political power of the military industrial complex. IMHO, the average working American will be paying through the nose to keep the US military state of the art and well supplied with fuel (even if this average schmuck can no longer afford to drive around).
Sounds a lot like North Korea.
Dragonfly: Circa 2020, IMHO, the USA will be a lot rougher than it is currently for the bottom third (financially) of the population. I think it will remain a great place for the top 5%.  
USA will be a lot rougher than it is currently for the bottom

And the issue will be - what will be the reaction of the poor?

Correct, that's the key...will they revolt or be enslaved?  Current administration is banking on the later.
I see the riots of the late 1960's and the social programs thereafter as a buy-off of the poor.

$5K vs $30K (Payouts to be 'on the dole' VS prision cost).  A 'smart move'.   But in a low energy economy, how will the $5K payouts keep happening, and how shall the $30K payments to 'non-productive or energy sinks' be maintainted?

I don't see how this all ends well.

Me neither, but like Odograph says, "nothing's set in stone."
Looks like a coup is brewing in Bolivia:

Instability there should continue to be interesting, energy-wise, for neighboring countries.

Also, while Chavez is still the favorite for December, Manuel Rosales is now a serious challenger in Venezuela:

As everyone already knows, the opposition is capable of absalutely anything in that country, including shutting down the oil industry.  If this election is at all close, things could get ugly.

Sorry, wrong link:

I remember watching on Univision the first time they took Chavez out of power.  That was a fun night of television.  It was cool when he came flying back in in his helicopter.

If anyone is currently in Miami and looks hispanic, just hang out on a street corner somewhere.  The CIA might pick you up and ask you to run one of these countries.

A closer inspection of that inadvertent link posted above revealed this bit of information:

Mr Murray said for the next season of the programme he plans to put the pair on a deserted island with a group of survivalists.

"Survivalists?"  Sounds like Paris and Nicole are preparing for peak oil...big time.  

Does anyone else see Oil CEO's hand in all of this?

Not to keep responding to my own posts, but I really have to give credit to Oil CEO on this one.  If I recall correctly, his dream has always been to get Paris involved in a PO outreach effort of this nature.  That guy takes a lot of heat on here sometimes, but when the going gets tough, he always comes through for the cause in a big way.  This should be post peak entertainment at its finest.
SAT - you still listening to music?
I'm patiently waiting for a wonderful opportunity.
You have no CD's. That's the problem. You don't even have albums, cassette tapes, or even 8-tracks. But I love you just the same. And I would gladly provide the music. After all, this is the rest of our lives. Why not end it with the Oil CEO's Godlike grasp of music? I mean. Why not? What the hell?

The Beatles will have the first song on my First album. I'll even let AlphaProphet request a few. And no, Paris will not get preferential treatment.

Everybody is always blown away. And I get Everybody Dancing. Oh, I got the shit dude. And I got the technical skills to actually use Nero and iTunes and all that crap. Unlike the rest of yuse. Who are you kidding?

Plus. And this is the dirty little secret. Post peak. There ain't gonna be no music.

Anyway, my first song is called.

Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey

Thank You George

C'mon dude. I had to take a break. So I skipped out just when you needed me. Story of my fucking life. You want my cell phone number. Email me. You can call me anytime. I'm serious. Who the fuck needs women when they got you. I'm serious dude. But when I say I'm busy. That's it. I'm busy.
Excluding its nuclear offensive capacity (I was almost going to write 'deterrent' - old indoctrinations die hard!), the US does not have the world's most formidable military. Pound for pound, considering how much money you waste on it, the US military is perhaps the weakest and most ineffective military in the history of the world. The correct comparison, pace my leftist friends with their 'Nazi' comparisons, is actually Fascist Italy: plenty of mouth and good at blowing up defenceless civilians, but otherwise good for nothing.

Let us look at the record:

WWI - kept out of it until the Germans had exhausted themselves against Britain and France.

WWII - Germany was defeated singlehandedly by Russia, so the US gets no credit for that at all. An almost honorable mention though for the defeat of Japan (which just goes to show the Japanese were far less formidable opponents than political mythology pretends).

Korean War - a 'draw'.

Vietnam - outright defeat.

Gulf War I - blew up a lot of conscripts with no interest in fighting. Technically a great victory.

Gulf War II - after proclaiming an illusory victory, the US is finding its clueless troops control little of the country and are subjected to hundreds of attacks every day from populations which universally revile them. It is virtually certain that the US will leave Iraq within years, again defeated as in Vietnam.

Afghanistan - once again, a proclamation of 'victory' without any actual control of the country. The US is desperately trying to rope in some other suckers to take the punches: the British, the Canadians, and even the Germans.

In fact, with the notable exception of the defeat of Japan, the US has only engaged in war with very weak countries, and has lost a surprising fraction of those wars. Victory in the Philippines, defeat in Vietnam, Somalia (and Afghanistan and Iraq).

Please understand: superficial appearances to the contrary (money spent plus a lot of hot air), the US is not and has never been an effective military power - by contrast with the British, the Germans, the Russians and the French. (No laughing please - the French invented modern war. Napoleon, anyone?) Indeed, the prime lesson of the US military is how useless the physical material of power is when it is applied in an entirely clueless fashion. So much stuff, so little accomplished.

Do not look to the US military to preserve US dominance. That is an illusory hope. Unless you intend to nuke the whole planet, in which event I will grant you do have an unparalleled advantage.

Yeah but we kicked butt in Grenada and Panama.  They were world class enemies, weren't they.

Seriously its amazing how many people believe we defeated the Nazis.  Russia turned back the Germans at Stalingrad at the beginning of 1943, 18 months before the Normandy invasion.  By June of 1944 most German soldiers were heading west (to surrender to someone more sympathetic than the Russians)

Its rather simplistic to say the least to claim the Russians single handedly defeated the Germans in WW2. Firstly it is VERY unlikely the Russians would have made much headway in 1943 (or indded successfully parried the thrusts of 1941 and 42) had they not received the vast amounts of material (most importantly transport) from the US to replace their catastrophic losses of the first year of the war (it is a little known fact that a huge proportion of men and arms were only moved thanks to Buicks and other US vehicles - and it is logistics which wins wars).Ditto material supplied from the UK and its Empire at the time.
Secondly operations on the 'Western Front' caused huge losses to the German military - for example few people now recall that more axis troops were captured (180,000) in the final month of the North African campaign than was the case at Stalingrad.
Clearly Germany suffered its worth casualties on the Eastern Front, but its ultimate defeat within the 6 year scope of WW2 had as much to do with being forced to either plan for or actually fight a war on two fronts (four if you include the Italian and Home fronts (the bomber war for example tied up over a million servicemen and the greater proportion of the artillery and Luftwaffe arms)).
In Anthony Bevoor's book Stalingrad it is said that the Russians loved the american cars, since they were much better than the russian models, but when it came to tanks they prefered their own. Nobody knows if the russians could have withstood the german invasion without american aid, they did have to relocate most of their factories in the beginning of the war. The russian winter was probably their greatest ally though.

The coastal defenses in the west also needs to be taken into account, it wasn't easy to launch the biggest amphibian invasion in history against the most heavily defended coastline in history. Most europeans should be glad they did though, if russian soldiers had been allowed to push the germans back all the way to the Bay of Biscay I think Soviet influence in western Europe would have been higher, to put it mildly. The relentless bombing campaigns over germany in the final stages of the war was, although mostly aimed at terrorizing the population, also quite damaging to the war effort. Albert Speer writes in his memoirs that he thought the people in charge of the airforce on both sides was incompetent, the allies because they didn't bomb crucial targets like the ball bearing factories without wich the whole Wehrmacht would grind to a halt, and the luftwaffe because hitler insisted that fighters should be deployed on the western front, not in Germany where they could have done some good attacking the flying fortresses.

All in all Europe has alot to thank the US for, unless ofcourse one thinks the world would have been a better place had the Germans won the war, or been defeated by the Soviets alone.

Interestingly, the russians played an important part in conquering the Japanese as well, when they were finished in germany they moved a couple million soldiers east via the transsiberian railway and forced the japanese out of China. I suppose they had an old debt to settle after the war of 1905.

The Russian T-34 has a suspension design from the US, the Christie design.  The US considered building a similar design but Gen. Marshall decided that limited shipping space required a smaller tank.
The Western Front was far more brutal than that!  Your life as an officer in the Bocage in Normandy was not longer than the life of a British officer on the Somme in WWI.

Aachen was one of the most brutal city battles fought anywhere in WWII.  Hurtgen Forest will go down in history as one of the worst slugfests ever staged.

The reasons we underestimate the Russian sacrifice:

- Stalin's propaganda machine and penchant for secrecy.  The true scope of the Russian losses (25 million) have been hidden until relatively recently, and of course any admission of the mistakes made.  

The archives have only recently become open, and now Putin's mob are closing them again.

- Western Cold War rhetoric - if you are fighting WW III against someone, it's not nice to admit that they were actually heroes, and pretty good soldiers and generals

Compared to the Eastern Front the Western Campaigns were mere skirmishes at best. Only one real major battle of about 6 weeks length (Normandy) cannot seriously compare in scale and intensity to the Soviet-German War of 1941-1945, a war that was viciously fought from the very first to the very last day.
For a nice visualisation of the losses in the respective theatres during WW2 take a look at
I know a lot of people who have dealt with the Americans.

Their military is utterly crack.  Especially the Marines, but through and through they are consummate professionals, with access to overwhelming power and technology.

The USN and USAF have technological leads over any potential enemy which are practically insurmountable, and first class people to fly the planes and do the missions.

Ignoring what the US forces went through in WWII, and what they achieved, and in Korea.  Whether they were late or not, they became good soldiers and dealt heavy blows to their enemies.

In a practical hands on sense, the Israelis are better (more experience, and the best in society have a role in the military).  Arguably the British have more skill in low intensity warfare (but we are dissippating our military like a wasting asset, these regimental 'reforms' are probably the last straw).

But you put technology, firepower and skill on the battlefield, and the Americans are top dog.

Don't disagree that in 'modern' history, other nations have proven themselves on the battlefield and in war: France, Germany, Russia, Vietnam, China, Israel, Britain, Finland to name a few.

I think you are confusing military power with political and social will to use it.  The US defeats you mentioned all had specific political and/or social limitations.  The US military has the ability to  eliminate government control of any country in the world currently.  Ask Sadam how effective the US military is.

What the US military cannot do is successfully pacify or occupy a territory.  The methods used to do this are not possible because of political or social restraints.  If the US had the garrison in Iraq that it had in Japan at the end of WWII, I very much doubt we would be hearing much about successful insurgency.  That is a political restraint.  The other option would be to go the Mongol approach and kill every man, woman and child in the country.  I think we can consider that one a social limitation(Thank God).

Well, America's formidable military power is on display in Iraq, and suddenly, a lot of people think that America has a very overrated military in terms of anything but sheer destructive power - which is useless long term for anything but defense, when destroying the invader.

Any nuclear power/alliance with nuclear weapons can pretty well ensure that even America's superpower status is meaningless at anything beyond the level of deterrence and assured mass death - I don't think the U.S. will be invading Russia for oil any time soon, even if Russia is a second rate has been, sliding into a decrepit future - at least, that is what I read when I also read about America being so dominant. But though America is unlikely to be able to sieze major chunks of the former Soviet Union with oil reserves, I am pretty sure the Russians can - being biggest and most hyped doesn't really count much compared to reality.

Of course, the countries which actually know that there are things more useful than military power are creating the infrastructure which may help them survive more comfortably into the future. And quite honestly - the waste of American military equipment in the desert is hard to imagine, unless you look at the scale of waste in America's last long distance war.

America is a profoundly wasteful society, and generally, that is a proven strategy to avoid long term survival. Worse, America's priorities always seem so misdirected - as Bismarck is reputed to have remarked "God protects little children, drunks, and the United States of America." At some point, even God loses patience.

The US has succeeded at least as well as any nation on this planet to date.

Remember it is older as a country than Germany, Italy at the very least.

Whether it will continue to do so is another question. I would say that relative to Europe it has expanding demographics, whereas Europe has static or contracting demographics.

The US is also a higher productivity economy, with a lower unemployment rate, and a higher standard of living.

All armies and wars are colossally inefficient.  In 10,000 sorties, and a billion dollars of munitions, the Israelis managed to destroy $10bn of Lebanese capital investment, and not incidentally kill hundreds or thousands of civilians.

The risks are simply that the US can't adapt to an era of much more expensive energy.  But history has shown the US people and economy to be incredibly adaptable.

My own concern is more fundamental.  The world is emitting enough CO2 to radically alter the climate, and the US is leading that emission.  If we don't do something to slow down and halt this process, we may not have a planet left to bicker over.

Well, I have written that it is a sucker's bet to bet against the U.S., but that said, I have my doubts about America being adaptable.

This is one of my conclusions from having grown up during the late 1960s on, and watching the same patterns recur.

I think a lot of things Americans believe and say about themselves is cheap. What counts is what they do, and in that, I tend to agree with Kunstler - America has committed the greatest misallocation of resources in history.

And the amount of wasted effort likely to be spent in keeping that investment going will cost everyone on the planet - Iraq is only a foretaste, and climate change hasn't even started yet.

And yet, most people in the suburbs seem unable to concieve of any other way to live. This is not adaptability.

The US has coal, and nuclear power, and trees and the capacity to grow food having some of the world's best farmlands.  

And the best companies, and the smartest people (but other places are catching up-- the majority of science Phds are by non-Americans, I believe), and the biggest, most flexible economy with the best record of innovation.


it's also the world's largest debtor nation. And one still in the grip of a housing and personal debt bubble.  And an extremely low personal savings rate.

and its military is getting hopelessly overstretched and worn out.

and it has a hugely expensive and complex medical system-- more so than any other country and a serious burden on doing business.  And a legal system that is very costly and expensive for business.

Not all its industries have proven to be adaptable-- look at the decline of the domestic car industry.

And a big fall in oil consumption is going to hurt the US more than other countries, in the sense that American society is geared around oil and distance.

look at the bright side   the us has the most potential for conservation  
Agreed.  And greater political resistance to actually doing anything about conservation.

I have seen this before though.  When the Americans move on something, it happens.  It is a great sleepy fat lazy selfish nation, but when it focuses on a goal, it achieves that goal... and shakes the world.

What it needs now is a leader who will say 'there, we must go'.  Carter was derided for it.

John McCain?  Hilary Clinton?  Don't know.  Don't see it in either of them, but they both could spring some surprises.

As other countries go through the same process we did, they will go through their consumer binge, and we, the US, will slide down the economic bannister and become just another third world country.
That assumes that all wealth is based on extraction.  If the US gets serious about renewable energy (and every technology we'd need is somewhere between lab tests and being deployed at multiple GW per year), the US's huge advantage of available energy per capita would entrench it as one of the wealthiest nations on earth (until someone else gets wise and starts building fusion reactors or SPS's, but that's a ways off).

We are quite literally drenched in energy every day.  We're just not so good at grabbing it... yet.

Agree.  Irony of ironies, the US was in the 19th and 20th century one of the most richly endowed nations in energy-- hydro electric, coal, oil and gas.

In the 21st we might say the same thing: about its vast resources of wind and solar power.

There are three main countries for which consumption data is not available, hence not included in the calculations: Angola, Iran and Nigeria.

You mean Iraq, not Iran don't you ?

Best Hopes,



More reviewing required next time.

It has been obvious that as oil prices rise there is a transfer of wealth, but there is also a transfer of political power. We have seen that invasion does not convey access or ownership but, rather, reduced production and exports. Accordingly, access to oil will increasingly go to those who provide, or do, what the dwindling number of exporters want - money, of which they already have a great deal, will be just a part of the overall price.  As an aside, we get oil from several muslim countries, none from Israel.  I find it odd that the influential US Jewish establishment is not pushing the US to recognise PO and reduce consumption. If in fact they are doing their best, it shows there is a very high resistance level.

We will be unable to prevent iran from getting nukes, no matter how much huffing and puffing we do.  Sadaam was, in retrospect, a pretty good foil for Iran. He's tanned and rested - you don't suppose we could put him back?  Sorry, our bad... so, how fast can you boost production?  Happy to loan some helicoptor gunships...

There is talk of an opec cut, maybe 1mmb/d. SA is resisting, but may go along because SA is paradoxically losing power, at least among opec. We are coming to the point that a few lesser producers can control world prices with a production cut.  Kuwait, for example, is having an internal quarel over the level of their reserves and the appropriate maximum export volume... there is a distinct possibility that they will arbitrarily cut exports, maybe by 1/3.  

PO, and the appropriate response, is, at least on an individual basis, no doubt being carefully reviewed by many exporters, maybe all long time exporters save SA.  Pity the oil importing country I live in is not doing the same.  The US does not export much that the oil exportering countries want, except perhaps arms. We look to be at an increasing disadvantage, as others have posted.

We also export movies, software and Boeings (Airbus is going through meltdown, and Boeing has now sold three of the Advanced 747-8Is as "personal transports"). (All three may include imported components, but we "add value" in the US).

And food is always a "bedrock" export.

Best Hopes,


The Emir of Dubai* spent $60 million on colts recently at Keeneland (Lexington KY).  Enough to pay for one hour's worth of US oil consumption (~$60/barrel).

*Might have been another of the UAE.

Best Hopes,


Doesn't sound like His Royal Horseness is worried about lower oil exports and/or prices.
>Doesn't sound like His Royal Horseness is worried about lower oil exports and/or prices.

Less they plan to relocate here in the US when production collapses. You'll know that trouble is immenment when suddenly a large number of Royal make surprise visits to the US and other western nations.

They have a very nice horse farm in the Kentucky bluegrass (another in Ireland) for summer training (year round for mares & studs).  The 2 & 3 year olds are air freighted to Dubai in the winter for training.

They have won the Preakness & Belmont but not the Kentucky Derby.

These horse farms typically have white (or black) lumber fences and have not seen the plow for generations.  Top soil 1 to 3 feet deep (30 to 90 cm) Fertile ground if TSHTF.


I used to think our grains could always carry us, but other posts have pointed out that we are now net food importers.  Of course, this could change...
Superbe article. Simple and very clear with a logic that is transparent but I don't see why Prof Goose sees it as worrisome.  To reduce the speed of global warming the planet needs reducyions in fossil fuel consumtion which is what we shall ger unless fools develop coal on tar .

The impact on economies and industries will be very varied. For motor car use, the short run  price elasticity is very low - about 0.2%.  Thus a 2% drop in gasolmine ùeans a 10% price increase. This will have a most damaging impact on those importing economies where the (Motor fuel)/GDP ratio is high. Worst culprit is the USA. The EU governments are much better preparedand working hard at getting better.
In France, water heating and space heating are moving rapidly to solar and heat pumps thanks to subsidies and state purchases which make change from gas to Heat pumps cost free to the consumer.
Air transport has a much higher price elasticity - about 2% for vacation travel. Business travel is most sensitive to the rate at which businesses are accumulating financial assets. In a recession, the airlines will see massive traffic falls.
Those regions that depend upon tourists arriving by air are heading for big trouble. Greece, Turkey, Spain will be most affected in Europe. Mexico, Canada, and the US in the Americas.

Places like Bali, Thailand and the Phillipines where locals cannot afford the resort prices will see their markets dissappear. Unfortunate but also necessary.

Thanks Manfred.

but I don't see why Prof Goose sees it as worrisome.

Those are my words.

The work of people like Robert Ayres and Charlie Hall shows that oil is responsible for more than half of the economic growth registered in industrialized countries in the XX  century. A projected drop of 40% in exports cannot be a good thing... but of course some countries will fare better than others.

If you think that CO2 emitions are causing Global Warming you should not claim victory so fast and should start worrying about Coal.

Well hell, I know exactly why Professor Goose sees it as Worrisome. It is because there will be less of everything. Yes, less air travel, less road travel, less tractors pulling plows, less trucks hauling food. less food!

And less food means less people.

So now you know.

Of course all this will be very good for Mother Earth in the long run but very bad for all the people and even the animals living on the earth. As people begin to starve, they will eat every wild thing they can catch, including chimps, gorillas and all great apes, including the most prolific great ape of all, Homo sapiens.

Ron Patterson

Are you honestly suggesting that humanitys 'last gasp' in the oil decline will be to eat each other? :P
Do you feel outbreaks of cannibalism in some places is beyond imagining as humanity generally finds itself in extremis?  Remember that famine creeps in from the margins, so by the time food shortages hit Westchester County, some parts of the world are going to be in extremely rough shape.

I sense a new cookbook niche opening up.

It wont happen.  If it could happen it would already have happened in Solmaia or North Korea, two of the hungriest places on the planet :P
Are you sure it hasn't?  It's not exactly something that people put on the wire services.  This isn't something that would happen in any organized fashion, but there are persistent rumours about it from famine-stricken areas.

In fact, here's a pretty disturbing link on the topic from NK, with testimony from the famine period 1996-1997.

It's not Soylent Green, but the behaviour is far from uncommon throughout history.

'Make Room, Make Room' (by Harry Harrison) the book behind the movie Soylent Green is actually far more gripping.

What perhaps is shocking is the world described by him, the New York of 2000, actually did happen- but in the Third World, not in New York.

His vision of a society slowly falling apart due to pollution, soil exhaustion, starvation and water shortage is an amazingly vivid one.

Excellent Novel. Sailorman turned me on that one. Check out "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. Just reviewed (front cover) New York Times Book Review (by William Kenndedy of all people). This just past Sunday. Just finished book.

I think it is excellent. It has a good chance of becoming the new, best-ever "post-apocalyptic" story. Cannibalism figures heavily. It plays a prominent role.

North Korea did have cannibalism.  May still.  Refugees in China have testified to it.

(another place where there was significant cannibalism was Japanese troops cut off in the Pacific in WWII.  And German POWs under the Russians)

The NK's were also down to eating grass (as were German prisoners of the allies in Germany in 1945).

If I'm not mistaken cannibalism was actually not that uncommon in many parts of Europe during WWII. I've read that it happened a lot in Russia and Ukraine, and according to a Finnish documentary I saw just recently, everybody knew it was happening in Finnish prison camps as well. It's just not the sort of thing people talk about...
Tony Judt 'Postwar'  a monumental history of Europe 1945-2000.

Judt's point is that the postwar miracle of Europe was based on forgetting, forgetting about the European complicity in the occupation and the Holocaust.

I wouldn't be surprised about cannibalism.  Ukraine in 1943 was a horrible place.  They showed one interview with an ex German soldier (now) after watching film clips about burning villages to destroy the supplies and shelter for partisans, asking him what he thought, and he shrugged his shoulders and said that these were peasants, they knew how to survive (in the Russian winter) out of doors....

There was another home movie film clip of Russian prisoners of war digging graves.  They asked the German home movie camerman what happened next, and he looks at the camera and says 'you don't want me to tell you that'.

I'd add that on an EROEI basis, cannibalism is a total loser.  There are better food animals.  That's why cannibalistic societies tend to be very primitive.

But human sacrifice, well that is as old as 'civilisation': think the Aztecs, the Romans, the Carthaginians, the Greeks...

I'm sorry but I have a problem with the fundamental assumptions in this kind of analysis. It assumes that as oil becomes short on a worldwide basis, internal consumption will not be affected. However I would expect that for most of these countries, internal consumption will not be shielded from the reality of worldwide shortages.

Certainly there are many cases historically where a country exports natural resources even though its internal populace is extremely poor and even starving. It is one of the classical critiques of globalism. Third world nations have been vulnerable to this for generations. And in Western democracies, the same effect happens for different reasons, as the internal population pays the same market prices as do people in oil importing countries. Norwegians do not pay less for their oil than Swedes today.

Therefore it is fundamentally flawed to extrapolate production and consumption on the assumption that each country is an island and will satisfy its internal consumption needs completely before doing any exports. But that is what is going on here.

A better way to think of it is as follows. Make a list of all the countries in the world that produce oil, and add up their total production. Then make a second list of all the countries in the world that consume oil, and add up their total consumption. The two totals will be equal (modulo small buildups or drawdown of storage). Now, we could choose to pair up the production and consumption of oil exporting countries, and it will be mathematically true that the excess of production over consumption in those countries equals net world oil exports. And this will by definition be equal to the consumption of all the countries that don't export oil, i.e. net world oil imports. But this is not a fundamental way of organizing the data, it is merely an arithmetical trick where we combine some of the numbers in the two lists in a certain way.

The real constraint is that the sums in the two lists (total production and total consumption) have to be equal. In a sense, all the consuming countries are fighting over the limited production of oil. If there is a shortage, all consuming countries are going to have to pay more and consume less than they would. It may well be that some country that doesn't produce any oil at all, say France, is able to increase its consumption while some oil producing country, say Nigeria, has to decrease its consumption; because France is a lot richer than Nigeria and can outbid for oil in the worldwide market. Nigeria's corrupt administration would rather receive international wealth and power than divert oil to its impoverished population.

The bottom line is that everyone, oil exporters and importers, is subject to the pain of shortages and is forced to choose between a barrel of oil and $60 or $100 or whatever it is at the time. Which do you want more, the oil or the money. That is the choice that everyone faces whether they are importing or exporting. As oil gets more expensive, more and more people will choose the money over the oil, and consumption will fall regardless of the country's export or import status.

Hi Halfin,

Therefore it is fundamentally flawed to extrapolate production and consumption on the assumption that each country is an island and will satisfy its internal consumption needs completely before doing any exports. But that is what is going on here.

See it this way: Norwegians pay the same for gas as the Swedes, but the Norwegians are getting higher and higher wages. Hence although the nominal price is the same, compared to the median wage gas is becoming cheaper in Norway. That's the assumption, there's a wealth transfer from the Swedes to the Norwegians - the data confirms this.

My bottom line is (opposing to yours) that gas and other oil products will become a cheaper and cheaper commodity in exporting countries. Of course as Dave notes, that does not imply an ever increase in consumption.

As for your double list model I invite you to do it and post it, so we can learn from the results.

I believe Halfins point essentially is correct.


See it this way: Norwegians pay the same for gas as the Swedes, but the Norwegians are getting higher and higher wages...That's the assumption, there's a wealth transfer from the Swedes to the Norwegians

Yes, but if Norway wants to have something remotely close to an ordinary diversified economy, there is an upper limit for how big the difference can be. If Norwegian wages gets too high, this will of course also result in a degrading ability to compete - export other than oil will end. Such increase in wages could occur in an economy solely dependent on oil revenues, in particular with virtually no export besides oil and most of the population being employed in oil related activities or as servants to the oil noblesse. I believe there is not very many countries where such governance is preferable.

Also, IMHO the wealth created by oil revenues in producing countries is normally not distributed is such way that rising price of oil is compensated by rising wages. My take is that the majority of the population in oil producing countries will be subject to the same demand destruction as the population in importing countries.

At last i'd like to add that i'm not an economist and that i most certainly may be wrong in the above assertions. The only oil-producing country that i throughly know is Norway, where i live.

Thanks for your comment Papirus.

There's an important detail you are forgetting, these days production is mostly controlled by state owned companies. As I mentioned above, Angola is a good example of what's going on: no democracy yet (if that changes anything) heavy corruption and social inequity, but still consumption is soaring. The state revenues are being applied in major social projects, housing and some transport lines - the elites will keep the folk happy. Although the liquid wages seem to be the same, the affluence of the people is in fact growing.

My take is that the majority of the population in oil producing countries will be subject to the same demand destruction as the population in importing countries.

The data shows otherwise. Remember that Norway is the only exporting country with the highest social standards in the world (by definition). There's a long way for some exporters to get to those standards.

You should also not forget other factors that increase internal consumption in exporters: lowering EROEI (see Gail's comment below) and growing population.

And thanks to YOU for a great post.

I partly agree with you. IMHO developing countries, like Angola, will experience consumption growth as long as the rulers spend a fair share of the revenues domestically. I would guess that increased consumption relate to efforts made to increase production, more than it would relate to increased govermental revenues as i still think my above assumtion to be correct; that there will be demand destruction in exporting countries as revenues is not distributed to compensate increase in oil-related costs.

Perhaps it would be wise to make a rough distinction between developing countries and others?

The data shows otherwise.

Yes the data support your assesment, but:

It's natural that developing countries increase consumption, especially oil producing countries. Cheap domestic oil is viewed as a measure to stimulate the economy. Some countries, like malaysia, subsidize fuel, a practice that might change soon if peak-now theory is correct. If peak is now, i reason that those oil producing developing countries will tax petrolium products, or at least stop subsidize. As we all know, if the difference in price in to different regions get large enought, there will be opportuneties for arbitage.

Pardon the many typos, i'm in a hurry - no spellchecker.

I consider it unpleasant to read a text with lots of errors, and understand those of you who feel likewise.

Isent Norway fairly alone in prepairing for the times withouth oil from the very beginnings of their oil boom? I am not thinking about the oil fund but the efforts of keeping a non oil economy healthy and growing in parallell with the transient oil export economy.
Yes, the elite in Norway is very concerned about not spending to much oil revenue domestic, since such spendings is viewed as an bad choice of economical architecture - it would make Norwegians spoiled, helpless and ruin the economy in long terms.

Actually the biggest political party here is pro spending oil revenues. It's a populist party with bad taste which never ever will get into office partly because of such attitudes. The political establishment simply tend to isolate the populist party, a practice that might be in flux these days.

The party is named "Fremskrittspartiet" - "Party of progression".

How about spending some of the oil money on investments in Sweden?

For instance on PPP financed roads and railways where you get a revenue as return on investment and it would probably be possible to find some projects that benefits Norways transportation needs.

We have smaller NIMBY issues with additional power production. We can sadly not host new nuclear powerplants during the next four years but you are welcome to do other profitable investments and sell the electricity in Norway, to Germany or wherever it pays best.

Or why not invest in a Norwegian owned natural gas pipeline network for Norwegian gas export to Sweden? It should probably find reasonable public support if you connect our biogas potential to it and build a fair ammount of gas stations for cars. Expect a governmnet policy that protects the local biogas potential and discourages competition with biomass heat but that should be fairly ok since the market is large and will grow and you do anyway want to sell the gas at a high price in direct competition with refined oil and not at a low price to compete with simple wood chips.

And as a bonus you will make your closest neighbour more prosperous and we will be a better trade partner in the post peak oil era. Dosent it sound a lot better then investing in derived papers etc?

Norway just built a hydroelectric power plant in Chile with state money.  A good investement IMO.

From a third party POV, Norwegian - Swedish co-operation has been difficult (I remember vaguely a telecom merger failed).  Difficult negotiations and trust.

The Icelanders find Norwegians very difficult to work with and were overjoyed when Norsk Hydro was replaced by Alcoa as the customer for the Kárahnjúkar power plant.

OTOH, I know Norwegians who are pleased to have Swedish waiters.

History seems to run deep.

Alan from New Orleans

I dont argue for cooperative projects or diffucult mergers of old established companies. (Your memory is correct, it were a proposed merger of the former(?) state monopoly teleco companies. It resulted in a PR scandal when a Swedish government official commented on the failure as Norway being the worlds last communist state. :-) )

Exept for PPP I argue for Norwegians to come over here and invest in things to own and control withouth complex deals, much simpler then a merger.

I guess they still have something to prove after the government union were dissolved a hundred years ago.

I also recognice some of their recent oil rich foreign policy behaviour from reading about near history when we in Sweden in the late 60:s and early 70:s were about the richest country in the world after exporting for the rebuilding europe boom. Then we started to toy too much with socialism and our downslide in relative wealth started. Its hard to see your own limitations and weaknesses when you are the top guy.

The conservatives have said they will start cooperating with the progress party, and I think this will give them a majority coalition in the next election. if the KRF gets alot of votes (>7%) they may be included aswell. This will lead to many strange ideas being tested, one can only hope some of the craziest ideas of the progress party gets scrapped, like their suggestion of freezing the price of gasoline at 8 NOK ($1.30) pr liter (it was about 12-13 at the time, 10-12 atm), or their giant roadbuilding plans. Did I mention they are still waiting for evindence of climate change, and that they want to privatize the railroads and make them carry more cargo and less passengers?
Perhaps a major rail building (including trams in the cities) so that they can carry both more cargo AND more people ?  Perhaps even tram freight.

Norway is a leader in TBM drilling of tunnels (I have bought books from Norwegian professors) and drilling many rail tunnels would not be a complete waste of your black gold.  They will last for centuries and use your hydropower.

Best Hopes,


More rail cargo and passengers would indeed be a good idea on the existing network, but laying new tracks to transport a few hundred passengers and a few hundred tons of cargo a day is perhaps not money well spent. I can see no reason not to electrify what we do have already. There have been modernisation in later years, but the new trains have had reliability problems. Norway only has one really large urban area, Oslo. There is a kind of metro/subway system, but it is old and slow, though faster than driving during the day. There are trams in oslo too, but I haven't had any experience with them. In Trondheim there is a tramline aswell. That's about all the light rail we have afaik. The problem the way I see it is that gas is too cheap, the bus ticket usually costs 1-1.5 times as much as the gas used for the trip, and since I very rarely drive very far without 2-4 passengers it gets very expensive and less convenient to take the bus since we share the gas costs. There are no rails close to where I usually travel. In fact, I have only once taken the train between cities. I remember it as being very comfortable, except I had trouble sleeping because I was shivering. The shivering was probably because I was in the army (with a 90% discount on public transportation), and I was wearing a summer uniform in autumn. How they manage to make clothes that you always feel either way to cold or way to hot in is beyond me.

I didn't know Norway was a leader in TBM drilling, I have assumed our tunnels are made the "old fashioned" way. We do have a lot of them though, I once tried to sum the total length of all the tunnels on the E16 from Bergen to Oslo (there is a sign showing the name and lenght at either entrance), but I couldn't keep track of it for more than perhaps the first 5 or 6 :) A guess would be that 10-15% of the 450 km is underground. A joke is that we have 1.4 tunnels per capita in the western counties.

I believe road tunnels are mostly done the old-fashioned way (e.g. drill and blast). But water tunnels for hydroelectric projects are another matter, there a smooth and even surface is important.

One of the reasons for the nimbyism in Norway is the fact that there are almost no visible power plants anywhere. The hydroelectric ones are hidden in tunnels/caves. There are some dams (although many reservoirs are natural lakes) and of course transmission lines.

Luis, well done.  A great and comprehensive piece of work.  I had it in mind to do something like this - so you have saved me, and others a lot of time.

WRT to Dave's comments further up the thread I think that the change in domestic use within the Export Lands is probably of secondary importance to the change in production - as illustrated here for Russia.

It is production growth and decline that is determinant.

Your Figure 23 shows just how important KSA and Russia actually are, and while several countries begin to taper around 2010, it is really the decline in Russia that controls the Export Cliff.  KSA may of course go up or down - and I'm beginning to feel that down is more likely in light of static - falling production this year - even with a doubling of rigs in the last 12 months.  So there may be grounds to believe that things work out somewhat worse than you suggest.

I would also like to see a version of Figure 23 with Angola, Nigeria and Iraq.  Even if the consumption data are imperfect - or does the data just not exist?


Thank you for your comments, enlightening words.

Although Dave is right on the fixed rates thing, these results are robust enough for us to see that the projected demand for EU that you assessed will probably never be fulfilled.

I've searched on the internet for consumption data for these 3 countries without finding it (maybe I didn't search hard enough). These countries probably do not have statistic offices, at least not in the same fashion like we in the OECD have.

Euan, in that case, what do you make of Indonesia?

Lots of both -- production declines, internal consumption increases. Russia is anomaly in so many ways, in my view. But Indonesia does not support my "S-shaped" hypothesis as stated above, either -- at least, not yet. I expect demand there to flatten out. Obviously they are an importer now, with all that entails.

-- Dave

This shows us that the scenario is quite different from country to country, and should be thoroughly assessed on that basis.

I believe that inserting population into the equation will bring some light - an exercise for the future.

Yes, you need to look at the trend of growing / falling per capita consumption, and extrapolate using population forecasts - and reasonable assumptions about how price might affect consumption patterns (the race is on).  The UN population forecasts are useless - no one ever dies - but I see that Woilf posted the official forecast for SE Asia further up the thread.
but I see that Woilf posted the official forecast for SE Asia further up the thread.

Sad but true...

Agreed Dave that Indonesia got screwed from both ends - a big, highly populated country, with a diversified growing economy and growing population.

But if you look at UAE, more typical of the very wealthy booming export countries, you do see steady growth in consumption - but the overall export pattern is determined by production.  Sure, the growing consumption matters - but errors in projecting that growth into the future are IMVHO swamped by the countries ability to turn production up or down by 500,000 bpd over short time periods.

Gee, can't imagine what UAE is doing to increase consumption so much.  Unless it is stuff like this:

Join the Ramadan ski and snow boarding camps :-)
A quote from the Oct 2 OGJ
While the total amount of energy required to meet the demand of the 25 European Union countries in 2005 remained the same as in 2004, at 1,637 million tons of oil equivalent, a 4.5% fall in EU energy production from all sources pushed up its dependence on imports to 56% from 54%, according to Eurostat, the EU's statistical office, in its first 2005 estimates.

Crude oil production decreased by 9%, gas production by 5.8% coal by 5.7% and nuclear energy by 1.3%

It would appear that some of your assumptions were optimistic. Great Article - thanks.


HO - I spent ages looking for this - referring to it in my EU import post - I just couldn't find the link - is that cos it is only on paper?
"I just couldn't find the link "
Cry no more.
here is the link to the original EU import data
From the source- EUROSTAT. E_CAT_PREREL_YEAR_2006_MONTH_09/8-21092006-EN-AP1.PDF


Thanks And1 :-)
Re: you do see steady growth in [UAE] consumption

Ahhhh, no you don't, I think. I see an elongated S-shaped curve here. Look at the entire data set since pre-1970. The UAE is only slightly above where they were in 1996. It's basically flat since then with some volatility. The EIA graph on a shorter scale (since 1980) looks like this:

The data seems to differ -- you're using the BP set like Lads? But I wouldn't call it steady growth.

Dave, accpet my humble applogies for using the word steady rather carelessly here.  I was imagining a 10 year MA goin through the data - but that dip in consumption around 2000 is rather curious - I wonder if it is linked to migrant workers getting sent home on the back of $10 oil.

A quick look at population stats suggests per capita consumption of 30.53 bpy - which beats even the Benelux countries - but then you'd have to look at coal and gas as well to get a feel for per capita enrgy consumption.

One of the big limiting factors for growth in UAE will be water supplies.

As long as they have energy they can desalinate.  Expensive, CO2 intensive, but possible.

Also I think the Saudis were looking at importing water by tanker.

Well folks the sky is black with clouds and it's getting late, I will go home now. More comments on the comments in the morrow.

Thank you very much for this outstanding piece.

Great work, I have linked it to
slashdotted (front page) and farked (in tech) in the same day!  Nice work lads!  (yes, that's why the site's a little slow on the graphics, but the new server seems to be handling the load well...knocking on any available wood surface...)

Its intresting that the slashdot comments are so predictable.
The response in general is what you would would expect i.e. technology is going to solve all problems. And you can prove peak oil till after it happens ( they said the same about global warming).
And of course the short term response "LOOK AT THE PRICE" of oil now.

But besides all that I do see one or two post from people seriously willing to look at the numbers. Also I find something that seems to be common people really believe the Canadian Oil sands are going to save the day. Even though they know nothing about its production.

It seems that the one issue that could be readily debunked is that the Oil Sands are going to save the SUV.

Very good post, but I believe there is a mistake in the graph showing the UK consumption trend. The UK's consumption hasn't been growing at rates up to 30%, and is a lot higher than the 300,000 barrels per day that the graph indicates. Obviously, the numbers on the two vertical axes are wrong.
Well spotted Coilin,

UK oil consumption has been flat for years.

An objective view of UK oil imports here:

Yeah, that's the graph for Kuwait... a copy paste messup probably.

Here's the real graph:

Apache Corporation published a short study addressing a similiar topic on 9/18/06 -- growth of oil production in 2006 and 2007 (but not past 2008) tion/

Their conclusion:

Global production increased by a net 889 MBpd (2,376 - 1,487) from 2004 to 2005, which is less than the anticipated increases in demand in 2006 and 2007.  Much of the demand growth during the past few years has been met by a reduction in surplus production capacity.  Even though a number of significant new projects are coming online in 2006 and 2007, much of that new production is needed just to stem the large natural production decline from existing fields.  Thus, the supply/demand balance should continue to remain tight if demand increases as expected.

A couple of comments:

  1. Because of declining ERoEI, either the exporting countries or the importing countries (or both) will need to use more energy supplies, including oil, in the production and refining  of oil. This will mean that the net oil available for other purposes is likely to drop faster than the model suggests.

  2. Oil exporting nations will at some point figure out about peak oil, and the expected likely decline of world production in the future. These countries may, as a result, act differently - produce the oil more slowly, form long-term alliances, sell only to preferred partners, etc. They may also figure out that debt from importing countries is likely to be of limited long-term value, and insist in payment in goods and current services.
yeesh Gail...stop making sense.  :)

dead on.  EROEI is what always gets lost in all of this, because it's one of those technical details you have to caveat every time you talk about this stuff...

of course, there are many of those complex details that often get lost...that's why this stuff still feels like squeezing a handful of sand some days...

Can someone point to credible data on EROEI for petroleum?  Heinberg indicates that it is dropping to the 4:1 level but he gives no references.  Any real data out there?
Re: These countries may, as a result, act differently...

Nice to hear from you, Gail. I believe they already are changing their calculations.

Thank you Gail, very intelligent remarks!

Your first point is another strong argument for the growing internal consumption, and unfortunately another blow for the Oil Depletion Protocol.

All in all, exporting countries will completely command the market from now on, choosing who gets what, at what price.

A very nice collection of data.

I find it so ironic that the political leaders in Washington won't do anything about energy use, or the related global warming issue, for fear of the economic impact.

While technology won't help much with the peak oil problem, all evidence points to the conclusion that the corporations which develop innovative technology to produce alternative energy and make energy use more efficient will be the new Intels, Microsofts, and Ciscos of the next 10 to 20 years.

Sadly, the dinosaurs in charge in Washington will ensure that these companies will be based in place like Japan, South Korea, or Europe. The US seems destined to become a second rate power in a couple of decades. They better enjoy their SUVs while they can, because it won't last much longer.

I think the nations of and Nauru and Cuba are illustrative of the future of oil exporters in decline. Nauru set up an investment trust with its phosphate revenues that would replace the export income. The trust was mismanaged, the phosphate ran out and now they depend on aid.  With or without sanctions Cuba would probably still have old cars because they could not export enough energy equivalent. If a car embodies 20 barrels of oil (or whatever) in order to pay for it you have to export at least that amount of oil or its equivalent. Middle Eastern countries will eventually retain what oil they have to fuel their old cars they can no longer afford to replace. I think I saw a banner here with a saying about going back to camels. At least these other two countries can grow enough food.        
Heres a BBC comment on indonesia and Exxon.

So indonesia tries to keep control of the fields, thats
clear, and we will see more of that in other countries, I suppose.

Last sentence: "Although Indonesia is one of Asia's largest producers of natural gas and oil, production has declined in recent years because of a lack of investment in developing new fields. "  No comments yet of peaked fields etc.

Dear lads,

Would you be so kind as to produce a time chart of the percentage of total oil exports that is consumed by the US?

For example, in 2005 the US imported 12.75 mbpd vs. a total export base of 36 mbpd (minus Iraq, Nigeria and Angola), i.e. 35.4%. What has been that percentage thru the years?

Many thanks for your study.

OK, I just did it myself NTW...

FYG it looks like this...

In 1991 US imports accounted for approx. 25% of global exports. Today they account for 36%. If, as you say, global exports have peaked and the US keeps increasing imports at the same avg. rate as in the past 15 years, then by 2020 the US will need to import 55% of all oil available for export - and that assumes that exports plateau out at 36 mbpd for the next 15 years.

If exports do go down by abt. 900,000 b/d every year as your chart projects, then by 2015 the US will need to import 62% of all export oil. By 2020 it will need 83%. This is what World Wars are made of - nuclear wars, at that...clearly not an option (I hope).

Cutting to the chase: assuming you are correct in your analysis, the only immediately available, sensible solution is drastic consumption cuts in the US. Nothing else can possibly ameliorate the size AND urgency of the problem.

For starters, slap on a serious gasoline tax - something like $3/gal - and use the proceeds to fund alternatives.

Very good effort Hellasious.

I didn't get into those numbers on purpose, because the projections I made are very simplistic and cannot capture the full complexity that the exporting market will fall into.

A simple result is that by 2020 World oil exports won't be enough to cover the present demand of the US and EU alone. Now put into that accounting Japan, China, Australia, ...