The Vincent E. McKelvey Lifetime Achievement Award

As I sat in the audience at the ASPO-USA conference last November, I felt gratified to watch Steve Andrews present the first M. King Hubbert awards to Al Bartlett and Matt Simmons. As we all know, Hubbert is the Godfather of Peak Oil, a man ahead of his time who predicted in 1956 the US Lower 48 would peak in the early 1970s. He joined the Shell Oil Company in 1943, retiring from that firm in 1964. From wikipedia we learn that after he retired from Shell, he became a senior research geophysicist for the United States Geological Survey until his retirement in 1976. He also held positions as a professor of geology and geophysics at Stanford University from 1963 to 1968, and as a professor at Berkeley from 1973 to 1976.

M. King Hubbert -- Click to Enlarge

But Hubbert's predictions about a US Lower 48 peak in about 1970 were ridiculed and attempts were made to push him aside. The principal architect of this USGS policy was Vincent E. McKelvey.

The Oil Drum is a great website and with every such site, there must also be great traditions established. It is with this noble goal in mind, and an antidote to the doom & gloom pervading every post nowadays, that I propose the first annual Vincent E. McKelvey Lifetime Achievement Award. But first we must learn something about V.E. McKelvey and the basis for the prize.

Vincent E. McKelvey, Head of the USGS from
1971 to 1977. Click to Enlarge

Some History and the Basis for the Award

Let us first state the basis of the award and then some supporting history. The Vincent E. McKelvey Lifetime Achievement Award is given to any person who has

  • Wildly over-estimated ultimately recoverable oil reserves
  • Consistently maintained these estimates in the face of reality
  • Been rewarded for this optimism (optional)
The ASPO-USA site has published highlights from a previously unpublished interview of M. King Hubbert by Steve Andrews that took place on March 5, 1988. The transcript is incomplete and only features some of Hubbert's answers to Andrews' questions. Hubbert was 88 years old at the time. Here are the relevant answers by Hubbert which I believe you will find unambiguous and clear as to what actually happened back then. There is an historical lesson here for all of us now as we read these remarks. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
  • "Finally, in June of 1962, we had a review meeting of everybody's reports. By this time other reports had been written and there was a general committee review, including by certain outsiders who were invited there...So, I came up with this figure of about 170 billion barrels for [recoverable] oil [in the Lower 48] and roughly 1000 trillion cubic feet for gas. The Geological Survey [Vincent McKelvey and A.D. Zapp] gave us 590 billion barrels for oil and 2630 trillion cubic feet for gas. So there's the problem we're working with. Those reports were checked in to the President [Kennedy; written at his request] in November 1962. In January he wrote a letter releasing the reports for the public and recommended that they be given the widest dissemination."

  • "[The USGS leadership] had tried to steer me away from oil and gas and leaving that to McKelvey, but I didn't steer very well [he chuckles]".

  • "So we go on then during the decade of the 1960s. The Geological Survey--with McKelvey in particular--publishing repeatedly with a co-author or two, updating these estimates, but always coming out with substantially the same figures...around 600 billion barrels for the Lower 48 states, for crude oil, and natural gas in a general bracket around 2,500 trillion cubic feet. And the trustees of the U.S. Geologic Survey, which is one of the greatest scientific bodies of the U.S. government, are such that whatever their official figures were, they were taken seriously in Congress"

  • "What I pointed out in this report was that if this McKelvey estimate were true, the peak in production for oil would not occur until near the end of the century. Whereas according to my figure it was due to occur around the end of the 1960 decade".

  • "Those [Proved Reserve Committee] figures were standing between them [Laskey and McKelvey] and the [optimistic] conclusions they were trying to draw. A 500 or so billion barrel figure was utterly incompatible with petroleum industry data. So what? Petroleum industry data were wrong and the government should take it over and make their own data. And eventually that's what happened. The API and so on finally said "go to hell, and we'll pull out of it. You handle it." And subsequently we've had no reliable figures on proved reserves which we'd had for years before that, a consistent series run by a standing committee of a cross-section of the petroleum industry".
And the result? McKelvey was appointed head of the US Geological Survey in 1971! Just about the very time that US Lower 48 oil production peaked! And the denouement? Here's what Hubbert told Andrews:'ve got the US Geologic Survey who mislead the government for 15 years. In fact, until they fired him [McKelvey], he wouldn't let go. They fired him in 1977. And he was still hanging on. And the US Geological Survey has traditionally been one of the great scientific institutions in the country until they went into this screwball situation in about the late 1950s. And went haywire, God only knows why.
And from Jeremy Leggett's recent excellent article What they don't want you to know about the coming oil crisis
The US Secretary of the Interior at the time, Stewart Udall, later apologised for having helped lull Americans into a "dangerous overconfidence" by accepting the advice of the US Geological Survey so unquestioningly. A long-serving US Geological Survey director who had led the campaign against Hubbert, V E McKelvey, was forced to resign in 1977.
For more excellent reading on the basis for the McKelvey award, look at Our Petroleum Predicament from where we get this graph.

Note the 1963 McKelvey & Duncan prediction
Click to Enlarge

Now, once again, the USGS estimates of existing oil resources are a delusional politicized set of falsehoods that are not based on good petroleum geology or feasible estimates of commerically recoverable oil resources. Their 2000 study of world-wide oil reserves predicted a possible peak in oil production around the year 2037 and weighed in at a URR of something over 3 trillion barrels of oil. The USGS fantasy underlies many other Cornucopian predictions we hear from other sources. Saudi Arabia itself consults with the USGS to estimate their reserves! History, never learned, repeats itself once again. Jesus wept. Hence, the need for the "McKelvey Prize".

Guidelines and Nominees for the Prize

In so far as I am trying to start a tradition here, I can only rough out some guidelines that can be refined as future years pass. My current thoughts include
  • The nominee should ideally be an oil industry analyst or insider.
  • There is no country distinction, Peak Oil is a world-wide phenomenon. Anyone in the world can be nominated.
  • Consideration can be given to those outside the industry whose achievements warrant special attention
To get us started, I have come up with a short list of nominees of my own for 2006. Here is that list, with short annotations.
  • Daniel Yergin, head of CERA, for outstanding delusional optimism in their latest assessment reporting an oil glut by 2010
  • Ali Al-Naimi, the Saudi Oil Minister. Much esteemed and beloved, little comment is required here since there is no upward bound on Saudi Arabian oil reserves
  • Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the IEA for whom a trillion barrels here or a trillion barrels there simply doesn't matter as long as you've got more trillions of dollars to invest than there are stars in the Milky Way
  • Michael Lynch, who believes in, if not an infinite amount, a very very large amount of recoverable hydrocarbons in the future years ahead
  • Steven Leavitt (Freakonomics, special consideration). Though not working in the industry itself, this economist believes in the infinite power of Adam Smith's invisible hand--the power of price and the magic of technology
  • Jerome Corsi (abiotic oil, special consideration). When not swift-boating John Kerry, he has pronounced the goodness of abiotic oil which magically appears from deep within the Earth
  • Peter Huber (author of The Bottomless Well, special consideration) -- "They explain why demand will never go down, why most of what we think of as "energy waste" actually benefits us; why more efficient cars, engines, and bulbs will never lower demand, and why energy supply is infinite"
  • Lee Raymond, head of ExxonMobil, who knows personally that we will never run out of oil but has not had the time to read his own companies' production reports
This is just a preliminary list to get you started. We are currently accepting nominees for the "McKelvey Prize" and I expect many others to nominated. Any nominee should not simply be asserted but good reasons should be given for that person's consideration. I look forward to many intelligent choices and the winnowing process that will follow. I hope to finally create an online poll so TOD members may vote on the finalists. There will be no actual attempt to be fair in the process as regards who will be on that list of finalists of course but I can assure you that all legitimate candidates will be considered including outstanding individuals or longshots not mentioned above in my tentative list. On the other hand, who told you that life is fair?

Lighten up! Don't sweat the fact that Iran & Nigeria are a mess, Iraq is a goner, Cantarell, Burgan, Ghawar and the other large mature megafields are going down the drain. Vote for your favorites and give your rationale. As with the Nobel Prize for literature, a long-shot could certainly win the "McKelvey Prize".  

A much more productive endeavor would be to try to understand how and why the USGS got it wrong in the 1960s. Hubbert's predictions appear to be pretty much in line with other forecasts at that time. What was the motivation for the USGS to inflate estimates of oil reserves? It's not like they were trying to suppress panic over Peak Oil, as people  sometimes say today about mainstream analysts who predict plenty of oil for the next few decades.

Was it just that this one guy, McKelvey, got it wrong, and he had so much drive and such a forceful personality that he was able to shove everyone else aside and force his view into prominence? Or were there fundamental errors in the analysis methodology of the USGS? If so, have those errors been recognized and corrected?

It's not as entertaining as making fun of people you disagree with, I admit. BTW, what award will you give to the people who have repeatedly predicted Peak Oil in the past, only to keep revising their effective dates?

Well, it was not just USGS (looking at the chart) that got it wrong.  So, yes, it could be interesting.  The issue seems more about how people delude themselves one way or the other.  Personally I place money in the market according to what I think so, ya know...  We ultimately will only know in hindsight so our bets now are crucial.
I was wondering exactly the same thing about the USGS estimate.  I could readily believe that could be traced to one guy with a lot of influence, although I have no knowledge of this particular situation.

The award for those who are serially wrong is a good idea, too.  If we're going to poke a sharp stick at the lousy predictors, why limit ourselves to half the fun?  I think we can actually learn something valuable from this exercise, as well as use it as a teaching tool for reaching out to mainstreamers.  ("See?  All these smart people screwed up their estimates, and here's where they went wrong and why it matters.")  And the best way to do that, I think, is to be as unbiased as possible.

Stopping to think about it, I tend to agree with Halfin. There was (is, it continues) a debate in physics about the meaning of quantum mechanics between Einstein and Bohr. Einstein was very stubbornly (but brilliantly) opposed to what QM seemed to be saying about reality. His brilliant rearguard struggle helped make clear how strange QM really is. Einstein accomplished more being wrong than all but a very few have accomplished being right.

I'm not saying ANY of the opponents of peak oil are Einsteins (nor any of the proponents either, for that matter), but someone who argues intelligently with at least some basis is performing a service even if they turn out to be wrong. For example, I don't think Thomas Gold's abiotic oil ideas are completely crazy. There are parts of that make sense and are quite interesting. But it looks like the parts that provide hope for continuing the binge just happen to be wrong.

There are and will be big debates over every single alternative to oil and gas. I think it behooves us all to keep the debate focused on issues and evidence as we move through these debates.

The history is quite interesting though.

I nominate George Walker Bush for his outstanding contributions in obscuring supply issues. Particularly, for his devotion to waging and threatening to wage wars in major oil provinces thus providing an artificial explanation for loss of production. He has further obscured the issue by asserting it is really just a problem of addiction and that the solution is to pour perfectly good booze into fuel tanks rather than using it to encourage an alternative and demand reducing addiction. ;)
I like that idea.  if you are drunk, you can't drive anywhere
Halfin is absoulutely right. I appreciate the additional historical information, but strongly believe that awards, if more than a tounge-in-cheek effort, should never be given for negative purposes and should be reserved for positive contributions. The world is filled with McKelveys.

 One of the great strengths of this site and the people who regularly contribute is the remarkably high calibre of conversation and information presented.  No one really wants to address these problems, and their solution require painful choices. Peak oil already has an uphill public relations battle without this kind of award.

I beg to differ.  The one thing that has been the hardest for me since becoming Peak Oil aware some time ago is to avoid becoming the type of humorless zealot that I have always despised.  I do not believe that a "tongue-in-cheek" award detracts in any way from the great deal of good that the editors of this site provide.  
And, it can help garner mainstream attention.  Trust me, bored journalists love these kinds of things, as it gives them a really easy hook to find something to write about.

(In one of my prior vocational lives I was a technical writer and journalist in the computer industry.)

You despise humorless zealots? Always? Hm.
Fraid's just one of those things that I fear in myself most of all.  Don't think we can ever truly "despise" people with whom we have nothing in common.
I was just being a snot -- and you go serious on me.
As long as the recognition is bestowed with good humor I don't see the harm in it or the downside to the site.

I think it is important to focus on what the non-peakers are saying and this award both identifies the leadership of the "opposition" and backgrounds us on their devious (insert large grin) ways.

This site and its editors focus well on figures and attempt, with great honesty, to discern facts. We should expect the same from Yergin et al. But let's face it, we aren't getting the same caliber of discussion from them.

Engagement with humor is a time honored rhetorical device.  

I also disagree with Halfin and Fletcher. The issues with Peak Oil are so weighty and oftentimes depressing that we (Peak Oilers) as a community will become neurotic if we don't take a moment every now and then to have fun and enjoy life. Also, there are a number of organizations (many quite respectable) who take a few moments each year to give an award to those who have done the most to impede the progress of their cause, whatever it might be. I think the McKelvey award is a wonderful idea. Unfortunately I am not up enough on current events to propose any nominees beyond those already presented.

Speaking of taking a break and having a little fun with Peak Oil, some members of my local Peak Oil group (Seattle Peak Oil Awareness) got together last night and played Peak Oil Risk (conventional Risk with a few alternative rules thrown in to simulate Peak Oil). The game turned out to be interesting, though-provoking, and most importantly, fun! As another of our group members put it, "This was definitely the most fun I've had with Peak Oil." For those who are interested, read more about Oil Depletion Risk.

Now, once again, the USGS estimates of existing oil resources are a delusional politicized set of falsehoods that are not based on good petroleum geology or feasible estimates of commerically recoverable oil resources.

I notice that you produce zero evidence, geological or otherwise, to support this statement.

Their 2000 study of world-wide oil reserves predicted a possible peak in oil production around the year 2037 and weighed in at a URR of something over 3 trillion barrels of oil.

Can you please point out exactly where in the 2000 study the USGS predicted a possible peak in 2037? I've read a fair chunk of the actual report and I haven't seen any peak predictions.

In science, you test hypotheses and theories by setting up predictions and experiments that can falsify the hypotheses.

Their method was theoretical, and the question is how valid?  It was theoretical because they did not actually find or look for oil, but used a strategy to propose what might be found. They did not set up their proposals regarding reserves in a way to be tested, and they have not attempted to validate or test their own assumptions based on observable predictions and outcomes.  Their approach cannot really be tested or refuted except by going to the areas that are proposed to have lots of oil and proving they do or don't by extensive drilling. They cannot technically be refuted by another theory, because in that case it's just one idea vs another.

At issue here is that ever smaller amounts of oil are being found year after year, despite improvements in technology. Look at the discovery charts and it is quite striking. Almost no major finds have been made in years, and these are always among the first to be found in any area. So far, there is no reason, based on real world outcomes, to anticipate that large new reserves will be found. Yet, the USGS report would suggest that enormous, multiple Mideast size reserves are yet to be found, and we are now 11 years into the 30 total years addressed in the study.

I ask the question, do we have to wait for 30 full years of negative results before seriously questioning the validity of the USGS approach? Don't you think the experience to date is at least suggestive that there is a problem to be addressed? If almost none of the theoretical oil has been found up till now, when will it be? Again, the report is not set up to be falsified, which is part of the problem here. We have to find other ways to examine if it's predictions seem valid.

Their approach cannot really be tested or refuted except by going to the areas that are proposed to have lots of oil and proving they do or don't by extensive drilling.

Right, so that's how you falsify the USGS. You find a region which is being intensively explored, and compare the discovery results with the USGS projections. I would challenge you to name even one region, which has been actively explored since 2000, where the USGS estimates are out of line with discovery trends.

They cannot technically be refuted by another theory, because in that case it's just one idea vs another.

Actually, I think they could be refuted by another theory. If geological arguments can be produced showing that the necessary source rocks, maturation, traps and seals are not present where the USGS say they are.

At issue here is that ever smaller amounts of oil are being found year after year, despite improvements in technology. Look at the discovery charts and it is quite striking.

If you're referring to Colin Campbell's graph of discoveries ("The Growing Gap"), no one knows where Campbell got his discovery statistics. I tried to hunt down the data, and there was no data. Who is counting discoveries? How are they counting them? No one knows. It's vaporware data. A pseudo-citation that goes nowhere.

Almost no major finds have been made in years, and these are always among the first to be found in any area.

Here's some recent finds:

Kashagan (Khazakstan): Discovered in July 2000. 38Gb

Azadegan (Iran): Discovered in 1999. 26Gb. Largest field discovered in Iran in 30 years.

Ferdows/Mound/Zagheh (Iran): Discovered in 2003. 38Gb. Even larger than Azadegan.

Oddly enough, it turns out that the last two fields were found in the AU (Assessment Unit) where the USGS predicted the most undiscovered oil. And the first field was found in the USGS's #3 candidate for new oil. Their views on the #2 candidate (Greenland) can't be proven one way or the other because Greenland isn't currently being drilled. So it seems to me that the USGS is right on track on the top 3 areas where they estimated new oil to exist.

Oil discoveries have also been robust in areas like Brazil and West Africa where the USGS estimated large volumes of new oil.

Their predictions about North America were good:

In particular, results of the USGS study suggest that it may be difficult to sustain U.S. oil imports from Mexico and natural gas imports from both Canada and Mexico. For example, the USGS estimates for technically recoverable, conventional natural gas resources in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin are an order of magnitude lower than previous Canadian assessments of the region. Recent Canadian assessments have been lowered.


Although many energy scenarios call for increased natural gas consumption in the United States, we may need to increase imports of liquefied natural gas or make major domestic natural gas discoveries to meet this new demand. Currently, the United States imports about 15 percent of its natural gas from Canada.Source

So, it seems to me that they've done a great job. As I said, if they are so wrong, it shouldn't be too hard to point to one specific region where they really blew it. An honest critic of the USGS would do that. Unfortunately, I think this awards thing is all about smearing the USGS, not dealing with humble facts about what the USGS actually says.

I ask the question, do we have to wait for 30 full years of negative results before seriously questioning the validity of the USGS approach?

No, we have to wait for critics like yourself to actually read the report before passing judgment. Once you've read it, and understood it, then you have the right to seriously question it.

OK, take a breath and lets review:

We are looking at recoverable reserves, not total original oil in place.

The Ferdows etc field is estimated to have 10-20% of its oil recoverable according to your own article, or 3.8 to 7.6 Gb

Azadegan has 5-6 Gb recoverable (largest find in 30 years)

Kashagan has 13 Gb recoverable.

So far, we are up to about 25 Gb recoverable from the largest finds of our last 11 years. Only about 624 Gb left to go to meet the USGS expectations. The oil is in the right place, but we're not seeing anything close to the volumes expected. Caspian has largely gone bust since Kashagan, although I know about Lukoils recent find in the Caspian - its largest find in 10 years, about a tenth the size of Kashagan.

I agree with your point about Greenland - who knows?

We are looking at recoverable reserves, not total original oil in place.

Actually, the USGS report is an assessment of resources, not recoverable reserves, as is stated throughout the document.

So far, we are up to about 25 Gb recoverable from the largest finds of our last 11 years. Only about 624 Gb left to go to meet the USGS expectations.

That's another straw man. The USGS estimated mean resources of 74Gb in AU 20300101 (which includes Iraq, Western Iran and Kuwait). 64Gb was shortly thereafter found (Azadegan, Ferdows etc.) in that AU. This is in spite of the fact that virtually no exploration has been done in Iraq (which constitutes most of the AU).

The fact that only the very largest discoveries in Iran and the Caspian do not compare to the worldwide estimate is not surprising. (Particularly if you change the subject and start talking about reserves, which the USGS did not try to estimate.) Why don't you instead compare discoveries in those areas with the volume the USGS estimated for those areas, as I did above? That's an apples to apples comparison. To the extent I have analyzed it, the USGS has a solid record in every area of the world which is being actively explored.

My point is this: There is lots of undiscovered oil which is not being found because no exploration is being done in the relevant areas. Iraq, Greenland and Iran are typical cases in point. Should the USGS be blamed if there is oil there, but no efforts are being made to find it? I don't think so. It is their job to estimate geology, not politics.

The reason the USGS report seems so absurd to you is because you have never read it, and all your counter-arguments refer to a straw man version of their position which has almost nothing to do with the report's actual content. The USGS isn't wrong; you're wrong. What you claim they say is not what they say. Once again, I would encourage you to read and understand the report before bad-mouthing it.

From the report that you claim I haven't read, I have looked hard to see what they mean by oil resources. These are some definitions I have found. If you have another definition, I am happy to read it. As far as I can tell, all their estimates are for oil they expect can be recovered.

"The objective of the Seventh Approximation assessment model is to provide a means to estimate quantities of undiscovered conventional oil, gas, and natural-gas
liquids that have the potential to be added to reserves (proved and inferred) in some specified future time span."

In all oil literature, "reserves" refers to oil that is expected to be produced.

and definition:

"Known Petroleum Volume: The sum of cumulative production and remaining reserves as reported in the databases used in this assessment. Also called estimated total recoverable volume (sometimes called "ultimate recoverable reserves" or
"estimated ultimate recovery").

The 649 Gb is stated throughout the report and summaries as their best estimate of resources that remain undiscovered outside the US.

The 2037 peak was the number the EIA came up with using the USGS figures and trying to then estimate future petroleum supply and peak date. While USGS didn't come up with this number, it was arrived at using their data by the EIA, so blame them if you think it's wrong.

Please don't slam and insult me, I don't deserve it. I'm happy to have a debate using data and best guesses, and I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I choose to debate in good faith.

Please don't slam and insult me, I don't deserve it. I'm happy to have a debate using data and best guesses, and I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I choose to debate in good faith.

Ironic of you to say that in a thread devoted to tar-and-feathering people.

I take your point. I didn't write the intro. I personally believe the many people who worked on the USGS report worked very hard and in good faith. I do believe their conclusions are suspect, but that's not a crime and we will know the reality one way or another before too long.

I think the reason for the surrounding emotion is that if PO does come soon, it will mean lots of hardship for many people that could be reduced significantly if the issue was recognized and prepared for. The USGS report is the main reference suggesting that there is no immediate problem, and anyone trying to move the world to action or to take PO seriously runs straight into this study. If it turns up valid, fine, but if not the consequences are very serious, as the Hirsch report indicates.

peakearl, all your points here are very sensible, and I agree with you. I remain convinced that the USGS study  is valuable, and deserves to be read more widely and carefully in the peak oil commmunity. I like the Oil Drum because it is factual, and it pains me to read a  blatant falsehood here, like: "Their 2000 study of world-wide oil reserves predicted a possible peak in oil production around the year 2037..."
 Apologies if I personalized the issue more than necessary. :-)
The USGS 2000 report does not make the predictions per se that I said. But others like the EIA have made theirs on the basis of the USGS predictions. And the USGS numbers, upon which these other predictions were made, are so much bullshit that no one in their right mind could possibly believe them. From the Wikipedia Hubbert Peak Theory article:
The United States Geological Survey estimates that there are enough petroleum reserves to continue current production rates for 50 to 100 years. A year 2000 USGS study of world-wide oil reserves predicted a possible peak in oil production around the year 2037. That is countered by an important Saudi oil industry insider who says the American government's forecast for future oil supply is a "dangerous over-estimate." Campbell argues that the USGS estimates are methodologically flawed. One problem, for example, is that OPEC countries overestimate their reserves to get higher oil quotas and to avoid internal critique. Population and economic growth may lead to increased energy consumption in the future.

Further, the USGS reserve estimate appears to owe more to politics than to research. According to the Energy Information Administration of the United States Department of Energy, international reserve "estimates are based on non-technical considerations that support domestic supply growth to the levels necessary to meet projected demand levels. [emphasis added]" (Annual Energy Outlook 1998 With Projections to 2020). This means that the USGS estimates are based on what is needed to operate at projected growth rates, not what actually exists.

The whole god damn point of the article was that USGS numbers are politically influenced and reflect denial about the actual situation. That was true in the past--as I showed here--and continues to be true. There have only been a hundred story posts or so on this website that illustrate the concerns we all have about the issue. Most (if not all) have presented data contradicting USGS data and last time I looked, world oil production peaked about Spring 2005. This may not be the peak and we all look forward to new data going forward.

And if you don't like what you read here, then go away and don't come back. In fact, just go away. Why don't write to CERA and ask them for a job. You've certainly got the right attitude--you could be a team player!

Well, Dave, as long as we're going to be cursing, I'll tell you straight out that the Wikipedia article you cite is nothing but bullshit. First of all, the USGS does not estimate reserves. It estimates resources. Your failure to distinguish the two is a disgrace to the integrity of this website. Second of all, the statement "A year 2000 USGS study of world-wide oil reserves predicted a possible peak in oil production around the year 2037." is a blatant lie, as we have all seen, and as you yourself have just conceded.

It just gets worse from there, and I could go on and on. Every single line of that quote from Wikipedia is bullshit, and I will be buzzing over to Wikipedia to fix it after I get done here.

It is very depressing to watch you turning this site into partisan shit-hole where people get hounded off for daring to state inconvenient facts.

OK, fellas, stop with the drama already. Break it up. Maybe somebody needs to mediate. Come back punching clean in round two.
Re: "... a year 2000 USGS study of world-wide oil reserves predicted a possible peak in oil production around the year 2037... is a blatant lie...."

No, it's not. Using the USGS data, the EIA came up with their number. If it turns on the word predicted, then I apologize for being sloppy.

Re: " you turning this site into partisan shit-hole where people get hounded off for daring to state inconvenient facts..."

First of all, you have not stated any inconvenient facts. In fact, I recently wrote a post The End of Exploration? about how discoveries are going. peakearl's posts refuted your assertions much better than I did. Needless to say, discoveries are not coming anywhere close to USGS projections. And I am well-aware of the distinction between reserves (which may be real) and resources (which until they are discovered, are just fiction). I was just pissed off since you just simply will not acknowledge that there may be a peak oil problem here. As far as a "partisan shit-hole" goes, I can do no better than recommend your own weblog Peak Oil Debunked.

Finally, I will apologize for my tone, as I said, I was pissed off. And no, don't go away, keep posting the crap that you post here. I was out of line.

Thanks for your comments. No apology necessary. It is good to have a variety of perspectives here.

I am interested in provinces like Greenland, but I have to wonder why the oil cos haven't seemed to find it of interest yet. If they did decide to explore, it would certainly be many years before any discovered oil was supplied to market.

P.S. I don't think you need to go away :)
For folks who may not be up to speed on what a "mean" prediction is (i.e. the type of prediction which peakearl erroneously claims is the USGS prediction), there is a brief explanation here.
I've had plenty of statistics and I know that their statements are all probabalistic. However, if they don't want us to use the 649 number, they shouldn't call it out so prominently, as in the first paragragh of the executive summary of the report:

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) World Petroleum Assessment 2000 provides estimates of the quantities of conventional oil, gas, and natural gas liquids outside the United States that have the potential to be added to reserves in the next 30 years (1995 to 2025). Excluding the U.S., the mean (expected) volumes of undiscovered resources are 649 billion barrels of oil (BBO), 4,669 trillion cubic feet of gas (TCFG), and 207 billion barrels of natural gas liquids (BBNGL).

Ferdows/Mound/Zagheh (Iran): Discovered in 2003. 38Gb. Even larger than Azadegan.

That's oil in place man. Normal recovery rate is 30%, so you're talking of about 11 Gb. And since is heavy oil I don't know if recovery can go to such numbers.

Heavy Oil dosen't appear on Colin Campbell's "Growing Gap" graph.

Heavy Oil dosen't appear on Colin Campbell's "Growing Gap" graph.

It doesn't count deep water either. Isn't that convenient? We're not discovering any new oil!!! Provided you narrowly define "oil" so as to exclude the main types of oil we're discovering.

Have you read the link to Chevron?

Have you read the complete report on ASPO's newsletter?

The Growing Gap isn't the only thing there, you also have numbers for past and future "All Liquids" discoveries.

No one is afirming that we aren't discovering new oil.

Isn't all the oil discovered millions of years old so no oil is new oil?  It's just that we didn't know about it.
TD you're shooting your toes. From the links you furnished:

Located in the south-western province of Khuzestan, near Ahvaz, not far from the Iraqi frontier, the field, covering some 520 sq km, is believed to harbour 26 bn barrel of oil from which 5-6 bn barrel are considered recoverable with a potential output of as much as 400,000 bpd.

It is currently estimated that there are 38 billion barrels of oil-in-place of which 13 recoverable in case of gas re-injection.

Might I suggest a trophy based on a drawing by Sandro Botticelli, The Abyss of Hell from la  Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome
OK. Now you're making me think about handing out Lemming Leader awards to those who led the charge to the edge of the ledge and beyond. Of course, lemming awards are not limited to "oil experts". We are much more egalaterian than that. Anyone, human, animal or extraterrastial, who led a large portion of his/her species to the edge and beyond deserves a "Stay the Course" Lemming Leader Award (STC-LLA).

I think I will first have to limit nominees to Biblical figures, those who refused to change their wicked ways and incurred the wrath of the Gods (or of Mother Nature). So I guess the leaders of Sodom and Gomorah are up there on the nominee list. Were there any earlier figures who abused the resources that God gave to them?

  1. Leaders of Sodom & Gomorah
  2. Eve? for just one bad apple? nah
  3. Cain for not maintaining a sustainable permaculture?
  4. Noah's friends for laughing about that global warming and floods are coming thing?
  5. ??? any more ???
  1. Pharaoh who would not listen to Moses and brought the plagues on Egypt.
  2. Haman who was an evil man who got hanged--and had it coming to him.
  3. King Ahab, a really nasty piece of work.

Indeed, in the whole Old Testament--and I've challenged both Jews and Christians on this point--almost every single notable character (except the prophets) is a sinner and gets punished for it.

  1. King David, commits adultury and murder, has lots of succession problems.
  2. King Saul--went crazy, tried to kill David. BTW Saul is a classic and very accurate description of a bipolar with paranoid delusions. None better to found in all literature.
  3. King Solomon--started accumulating concubines not of his faith, they got him worshiping false gods, and as punishment the great kingdom he built falls apart.

I could go on.
almost every single notable character [in the Bible] (except the prophets) is a sinner and gets punished for it.

Obviously Nature has no mercy for those who stray away from her laws.

I like your Pharaoh versus Moses suggestion. He got warning after warning: Give up your addiction to [Oil] Slaves, and yet he would not let go. It was a non-negotiable life style.

I guess the flip side is Benjamin (of multi-colored robe fame) who could interpret an earlier Pharaoh's dreams and the leader LISTENED! 7 years of fortune and 7 years of famine. Only Egypt, which had planned ahead by storing for the lean cow years survived the drought. That is why Jacob had to send his sons to Egypt, to bring back food & eventually Jacob's descendents became slaves to Egypt. (Due to overindulgences in the food-for-credit program.)

Was M. King Hubbert our Benjamin and why do our Paroahs (Jimminy Cricket Carter excluded) NOT listen?

Hubbert foresaw in his dreams 110 years of an oil feast 1859-1970 followed by a slow decline into the fallow years. His dreams have proven to be true. And yet our mighty Pharaohs mock the dreams (Hubbert Linearizations) even now as the frogs, boils and rest of the 10 plagues descend on us.

(oy vey)
(ly'ins and spy'ins and Blairs)
(oy vey)

I hear the manic despairing klezmer music in the background. Maybe we should start a band, become famous while we educate. To try to get through invincible ignorance by conventional means such as writing letters to editors, going to city council meetings, oi yoi yoi, oi veh indeed.

Elsewhere I have stated that the fundamental problem and only possible solution is education. All right, I think that is the correct definition of the problem. But I have not been able to come up with a plausible hypothesis as to how it can be solved in my lifetime.

I write science fiction novels, so far unpublished, on the theme of a big dieoff--brilliant, funny, profound, exiting moving fiction . . . (with no false modesty;-) but can I get an agent? Sorry, the market for hard science fiction is dead. The market for young-adult novels is dead (because libraries have no money, and because most young adults don't read beyond certain genres--not including science fiction). Oh well, two volumes done, three more to go in this upbeat series. Writing keeps me intermittently sane.

Query: What do you folks do to keep your spirits up as the Titanic sinks but most people think the little brush with the iceberg is a minor problem, because everyone knows and we have been assured by the highest authorities that the ship is unsinkable?

Re: "Query: What do you folks do to keep your spirits up...."

I take tranquilizers, drink some wine and write posts like this one. I always do my research thoroughly and carefully before I write anything down.

This was a "tongue in cheek" post but like all such rhetorical devices, I was trying to make an important point about the bullshit the various "expert authorities" give us which are duely reported by the MSM on a daily basis. Knowing nothing about history, people live in the dark.

I believe injecting a little humor into all this bad news is a good idea just to keep some kind of psychological balance. I think the "McKelvey Award" does just that.

There are some humourless people contributing to this site, I won't name names, but given the dire circumstances we are in, I think it's time to use the highest form of psychological defense--which in my view, is humor. Comedy is the antidote as tragedy (which, by definition, is inevitable fate) unfolds right before our very eyes.

best, Dave

I agree. You have to have a sense of humor. Life is tragic enough. (Don't ask.) Humor is one of the few antidotes.
actually I was plotting out a Yiddish remake of The Wizard of Oz'raq

I guess the lyrics should have been:
Ly'ins and Tigrus and Blairs, Oy vey!
Ly'ins and Tigrus and Blairs, Oy vey!

.. as in Tigrus River

Mel Brooks would love this! Find his agent and pitch the idea.

I'm serious.

Niven said it took him only a year to learn how to write because he could write full time (family money). If you have to do it squeezed in between your job and your family, you take longer.
Good luck.
Thank you.

BTW, I agree that humor is the best defense and weild my funny-sword at every opportunity, especially when the berserker fury takes hold.

It was Joseph not Benjamin who interpreted the Pharoh's dreams.
You're right ... some of those Bible school details seem to be slipping from this old geezer's memory.

The point is that there are always seers of the future.

Some leaders listen to their Josephs, their Cassandras, Hubberts or what have you's (You TOD addicts) and they wisely change their ways.

Some leaders choose to "Stay the Course".

This Joseph senses a Petro-Plunge just ahead of us in the fog.
Our Pharaoh has vowed to Stay the Course no matter what. His Chief of Chicanery says all other options are non-negotiable. I see crows flocking over their heads. I see crows flocking over the heads of all their "faith-based" followers.

I pray I am wrong. I pray that our herd senses the danger and turns before it is too late.

You could add John Tierney from the NYT to the list.

For that matter, the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal is also worthy of consideration.

Excellent, Dave. Good idea.

I'm sure you'll be watching CNBC's Squackbox(or is it Sqwackbox?) Tomorrow 6AM EST.

"Worst-Case Scenarios for Oil Prices" is the topic.

I wonder who the guests will be? Does CNBC ever call you guys?

One suggestion: We should take into account the total effect of the person's prediction on our energy situation.  In that light, I would be inclined to vote for someone like Lynch, who gets a lot of mainstream press, or Huber, who's spectacularly wrong and has a book out that's likely to influence a fair number of non-experts.

Lee Raymond is just pushing balloon juice, in my opinion, and I doubt anyone is swayed by his comments.  (Mainstream consumers are unaware of his comments, and experts already have their minds made up, one way or the other.)

I agree, but tell me one thing - what the hell is balloon juice?
Drawing upon my vast (or is that "Half vast") erudition, I speculate, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that BJ is a derivative of BS, possibly being produced through reverse peristalysis.

On another topic, I would like to nominate for the award the bozos who devised the "Drain America First" policy way back in the 1940s or 1950s. Let their names be added to the Hall of Shame, because to make short-run profits these Texas tycoons (When in doubt, always blame somebody from Texas.) refused to import abundant foreign oil but to maximize their profits maximized output of domestic wells.

Now you could blame the politicians, but politicians are just commodities, bought and paid for by the Big-Money boys. O.K., you wanna' blame some pols, why not.

Let it not be said that government of the people, by the people and for the Fat Cats shall perish from the earth.


...reverse peristalysis.

I needed a good belly laugh this morning.

Hot air?
I read the full set of publicly available comments by M. King Hubbert that Dave referenced, and I think it is quite understandable why the man was the ornery bastard that he was.  The tremendous frustration that he felt near the end of his life is palpable in his remarks.  He was a man who knew the truth, but spent decades repeatedly pushing a rock up a hill in Sisyphean fashion in a largely futile effort to get his message to register with society in a meaningful way.  Not even at the time of his death did he have the satisfaction of knowing that his tireless efforts might have made some difference!  For all the psychological reasons that people write about so often on TOD, people just didn't want to listen to his jeremiads - just like they didn't want to listen to those of the original prophet Jeremiah either!
ericy nominated "the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal."

There are two parts to the Wall Street Journal.  

The editorial page writers are troglodytes and most worthy nominees for the McKelvey award.

On the other hand, the reporters who write the articles that appear on the news pages are top-notch and well respected among journalists.  

For example, see the article by David Luhnow in Feb 9 WSJ: "Mexico's oil output may decline sharply:
Pemex Study Points to Possible Drop At Major Field, Which Would Strain Global Supply"  (links).

Well Dave interesting idea. Although orthodox in the least, it is something that in fact can draw attention to the Peak Oil issue.

I'd like to add someone in Kuweit (Oil Minister or whoever responsable) to your list. These last months were good for them, first Burgan then from 99 Gb to 27 Gb. No one can beat that.

I nominate Pres. Ron Reagan for gutting the wise energy policies that Pres. Carter jumpstarted.  We lost thirty plus years to install a Peaceful Powerdown.  Now, everything Carter warned about is coming tragically coming true.  Carter understood Al Bartlett's Exponential Equations and the ramifications of Peakoil.  Reagan's "A New Morning in America" has lead us directly back to "The Dawn of Olduvai Man".

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

Reagan is certainly high on my list also.

If you take a brief examination of the literature on renewable energy (especially technical books on solar, wind, and wave power), one thing that will jump out at you is that much of it suddenly sprang into being in the latter half of the 1970s and then came to a screeching halt circa 1981.

The UK had a vigorous R&D program for ocean wave power in the late 1970s, but Reagan's soul-sister, Margaret Thatcher, pulled the plug on that practically as soon as she came into office.

We've lost a good 25 years of valuable time that could have been spent moving toward more alternative energy capacity. We may never be able to catch up.

Ah that shining castle on the hill and the 1000 points of light. That was a noble time when "truth and justice" triumphed over reality. I too miss Ronald Right-grin so much. He was one heck of a Hollywood cowboy.

Remember: Just say "No" to reality.

IMO, the most guilty among us are the oil industry insiders, so I would nominate Raymond.  I suspect that Raymond, and some other--but not all--major oil company CEO's are claiming trillions of barrels of remaining oil reserves because they want to escape punitive taxation, i.e., they need all the cash flow that they can get to bring on the new production.

In regard to the assertion that there is plenty of oil out there, but we are just not drilling in the right spots, did the whole oil industry just go brain dead in 1976?  There has not been a one mbpd or larger field found since 1976.  Some of the Caspian Sea stuff might get close, but my understanding is that even there it's been more of a case of deciding to develop a known trap.  

As even the WSJ admits, the remaining four fields producing one mbpd or more are known to be declining or they are suspected of entering a permanent decline phase.

IMO, we are going to see an incredible divergence between the fortunes of the energy producers and the energy consumers. I continue to advise my oil patch brethren to blend in--I am suggesting that we drive 1990 lime green Volvos with Greenpeace stickers.   I would not advise driving a Hummer with a bumper sticker saying "I am in the oil business and I love $100 oil."

I nominate Donald Luskin.

He says $70 was the market top for oil.  The price is only going to drop, so now's the time to sell.  

First of all, great post and great idea Dave.  I was working at the USGS right after McKelvey "retired".  My belief is that he was a political hack that got promoted like many bureaucrats get promoted - because he told his bosses what they wanted to hear.  If you have ever worked in a large bureaucracy, you know lots of these people.

Secondly, not to step on anyone's toes here, but lets keep some sense of humor here.  We don't have to treat everything with deadly seriousness.  Just because Colin Campbell has mis-predicted the timing of Peak Oil on the front end, he will be remembered in the end for his tireless work to bring the concept into the fore of the public consciousness.  

On the other hand, Lee Raymond and Daniel Yergin know better.  They are public Pollyannas because that is what they believe their stakeholders want to hear.  Yergin, of course, doesn't deny Peak Oil.  He just doesn't want to talk about it.  He pretends that if it doesn't happen until after 2020 that no one should be concerned.

Lastly, JD you are at the wrong website.  The majority of the readers of The Oil Drum are far more educated and knowledgable about hydrocarbon resources and available energy than you are.  Please continue to post at your own "Debunking Peak Oil" blog.  We will check it out from time to time, but you are not adding to the discussion here.  

PS - My vote is for Lee Raymond

Was McKelvey really fired?  What for?
Hey: don't knock JD.  I love his posts, gives me lots of polish for my morning coffee shop arguments. His type outnumbers me about 3 to 1. I wouldn't be nearly as prepared without him. He's like a sparing partner, you know you can beat the tar out of him, but if you do he may not come back.

This takes you to a website with a Lower 48 HL plot.  You can see how Hubbert came up with the 170 Gb estimate using the 1958 and earlier data.   Just eyeballing the plot, I would probably still come up with around a 170 Gb estimate using the data through the 50% of Qt mark.

The US government has large numbers of attack submarines with extremely good and extremely expensive active sonar. The submarines cruise anywhere they want in depths of more than 100 feet, under ice shelves, in territorial waters, etc. They have varieties that can rest on the bottom and tow experimental sonar arrays. They have (and have licensed the technology to mining corporations) extremely sensitive gravity sensors to detect oil/gas/evaporite)masses.
Everthing they can do is classified so no one talks about it, and compartmentalized so no one even knows their full capability.
Maybe they know more about offshore oil in Greenland than you do?
Did you ever wonder why the US had so many subs specifically designed to attack Russia missile subs? I don't think it was because they wanted to make the Russians nervous enough to move to launch on warning, event though that's what they were doing. I think they were just looking ahead.
I agree.

I have developed fiber optic sensors for towed arrays for the Navy and for down hole oil and gas exploration and well monitoring.  None of the work I have done is classified but there are a lot of details our customers don't want discussed in public.  I know a fair bit about fiber optics, but not very much about finding enemy subs or mapping the oil/water mix in a producing field.  I know enough to say that detecting enemy subs is a different problem than detecting promising oil baring geological features, but there are similarities, and it's certainly possible to package oil exploration senor arrays into a configuration compatible with a typical sub deployment gear.  Exploring for oil in some ways is easier underwater because you access to a lot of new resistivity imaging techniques that are difficult to implement in air (salt water being conductive).  Also submarine surveys allow you to work in relative secrecy.

Given the political importance of how much reserves are left and where there are, and given that the Artic climate is becoming more amenable to drilling operations every year, I would be shocked if the US Navy had not participated in extensive Artic underwater field surveys.  Acoustic surveys, gravity field surveys and resistivity mapping only tells you if the geology is compatible with the presence of oil and gas, though.  To tell for sure you need to actually drill it, and as people have pointed out here, even then your reserve estimates are highly uncertain.

Yeah, you know there is something there, but not what it is. Which oil company drilled in the South China Sea and found the world's largest deposit of Perrier water?
Perrier water is fizzy (carbonated). CO2 looks a lot, well, exactly, like CH4 on a bright spot seismic. There was some CH4 there as well. Perhaps it will pay to extract the CO2 (75%?) from the CH4 (25%?) someday if prices rise enough.
My vote is for Yergin.  CERA got tons of press when it released its review of energy supplies, and I can only postulate that they were political hacks for someone...
How about an award for the most bogus alternative energy concepts like cold fusion, zero point, abiotic oil, etc.
Dilithium crystals, Scotty.
Who at USGS was responsible for the 2000 reserve study? Have participants come foward with an independent critique i.e. where are the modern whistleblowers?

I am looking for the recent equivalent of the above mobjectivist chart--the one comparing modern reserve estimates (including the bizarre USGS p50 and p95 values.) Anyone know where I can download that??

Finally a post for which my relative ignorance is an advantage!  My obsession with oil (primarily the international politics and economics thereof) is only a couple of years old, but I am hooked.  However, I had not been interested in the Peak Oil crowd until I happend upon this site recently and was blown away by the sophistication of argument, diversity of expertise, etc. here. Why did I stay away?  Two reasons:

  1.  I lumped PO in with the mass of environmental movements, some of which stray from the rational into irrational 'doomsday is here' type prognostications.  

  2. Those that seemed to have the most stake in oil (financial, political, etc) don't seemed concerned about PO --oil execs, Oil Ministers far and wide, and, of course, the U.S. Government.

For those of us who are passionate about oil and energy but agnostic (at best) about PO, the two most important characteristics for assessing the matter are quality/sophistication of argument (at which this site excells) and rational explanations for why so much of officialdom is free of concerns about PO.  I would love to see analyses pointing to the circumstancial evidence for PO.  By that I mean answers to such questions as:

What is Saudi Arabia's movitation for hiding the truth about its reserves?

What type of current Russian political/economic behavior circumstantially indicates it is heading toward a real production problem (assuming they know it)?

Why/how does EIA forecast 17 mbd for FSU in its reference case and 20 mbd in its high price case for 2025 if the oil situation there is actually so dire?

I have gathered bits and pieces of the answers to these questions from posts here that I have read, but these are the types of things that will help the relatively uneducated like me question what the apparent experts contend.  The EIA website has been my best friend for the past two years, but I am starting to feel jilted!

This is all simply to say that for those like me, the case of Vincent E. McKelvey (with or without the award, which I  find to be in good and useful humor) could go a long way toward swaying those like me for whom authority is key in areas in which we don't have the knowledge or ability to  divine the matter for ourselves.

Regardless, keep up the great work!    

a long way toward swaying those like me for whom authority is key in areas in which we don't have the knowledge or ability to  divine the matter for ourselves.

Evolution has wired the human brain to obey authority.
Evolution has wired the human body to breed like rabbits.

In times of low population, disease, low mortality, these were advantageous traits.

If you are under 50 years old, you probably don't remember the past century, 1960's when world population was half what it is today:

Right click & hit View Image to see big

Everything looks "normal" to you (if under 50) just like it looks "normal" to the latest generation of yeast in the 50% full Petri dish. In the next "doubling" it will all be over. And yet there is a full 50% of empty space!

PO people are not kooks.
Eco-aware people are not kooks.
But evolution has not wired us to properly deal with the new "crisis".

I certainly wouldn't suggest that either PO people or eco-aware people are kooks; if I did, I wouldn't have read my eyes blury on so many of these posts.  However, if you have a small cluster of believers around one idea and a much larger cluster of believers around another idea, the burden of proof seems naturally to rest upon the former, all other things being equal. Evolutionary disposition or not, you wouldn't claim (I presume) that the popularity of an idea itself is evidence of its falsehood. Your evolutionary explanation could explain why I have trusted the EIA, oil execs, etc., but it doesn't explain why EIA officials and oil execs, who are in a position to know better and have much to gain or lose depending on their stance, would perpetuate a false and dangerous myth.  Hence the search for circumstancial evidence, i.e., what is not-equal in the 'all other things being equal' caveat above.

You asked a really good question about trying to glue the puzzle pieces together:

I have gathered bits and pieces of the answers to these questions from posts here that I have read, but these are the types of things that will help the relatively uneducated like me question what the apparent experts contend.

Unfortunately evolution forced me to answer the call of my significant other, so I couldn't give you a fuller answer.

Two parts of the puzzle are:

  1. Exponentially increasing world population, and
  2. Shift of population distribution towards a higher proportion that "wants" to live the better per-capita life (higher standard of living) and can afford to pay for it with "money".

You need to multiply these two factors against each other (P=Factor1 * Factor2) and watch the product over history. Higher standard of living generally means higher per-capita energy consumption.

Everyone wants indoor plumbing.
Everyone wants central heating and air conditioning.
Everyone wants a car.
Everyone wants electric appliances: dish washer, etc.
Everyone gets these wants from TV and internet.

When population was small, these were not big issues.
Now that population is large we are bumping up against the limits of what our planet can provide.

Those who stand to "profit" from these trends want to "Stay the Course". Their position is very understandable. They really don't care what happens to the unwashed masses.

As old King Louis the XIV said (was it the 14th?): After me, the deluge. (Translation: after I'm dead, who gives a sh*t)

I don't think that I have ever seen Hubbert's preprinted remarks that were headed out at the famous 1956 API meeting.  Note that the 50th annivesary is coming up in March.  I added the dates in parentheses--(i.e. 2006) and (i.e., 1966 to 1971).   As almost everyone knows, the Lower 48 peaked in 1970.   Using only the 1970 and earlier data, the post-1970 cumulative Lower 48 production was 97% of predicted using HL.  

I think that it might be a good idea to permanently post the preprinted versions of Hubbert's remarks somewhere.

A Special Editorial Feature by GEORGE PAZIK Editor & Publisher, Fishing Facts, November 1976


The preprinted version of Hubbert's paper distributed at the March 7, 1956 American Petroleum Institute meeting in San Antonio, Texas had the following statements:

"According to the best currently available information, the production of petroleum and natural gas on a world scale will probably pass its climax within the order of a half a century (i.e., 2006), while for both the United States and for Texas, the peaks of production may be expected to occur within the next 10 or 15 years. (i.e., 1966 to 1971)

"Assuming this prognosis is not seriously in error, it raises grave policy questions with regard to the future of the petroleum industry. It need not be emphasized that there is a vast difference between the running of an industry whose annual production can be counted on to increase on the average 5 to 10 percent per year and one whose output can be depended upon to decline at that rate. Yet, in terms of the production of natural gas and crude oil, this appears to be what the petroleum industry in the United States is facing."

(When the paper was published, after Shell Oil Company censors had finished with it, the statement above was deleted and replaced with the following: "the culmination for petroleum and natural gas in both the United States and Texas should occur within the next few decades.")

I vote for Yergin. He represents no one country, no one producer or anything else. He is in a position where he theoretically could be well above politics, sociologies, etc., and yet clearly is not.

I say he's almost the equivalent of a creationist.