2005 Advancers and Decliners

Top countries experiencing oil production declines in 2001-2004, together with their production change from 2004-2005. The 2001-2004 declines are annualized. Source BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2006.

I begin the process of digging into the new BP statistics by taking a look at nations whose production increased versus those whose production decreased. Firstly, it's important to note that overall there was a production increase from 2004-2005, of about 1.1%, but this is significantly smaller than the 3%-4% increases in the prior couple of years. Although production began to plateau towards the end of 2004, because production was noticeably lower in early 2004 than in 2005, there is a year to year increase.

The graph above shows the declining nations. There were some positive notes: near arresting of declines in Indonesia and Oman, and actual reversal in Australia. However, these were dominated by worsening declines in the US and the North Sea. Overall, the declining group accelerated from 900kb/d per year to 1100kb/d in declines.

The advancers look as follows:

Top countries experiencing production increases in 2001-2004, together with their production change from 2004-2005. Source BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2006.

While there was positive news in the deep water areas of Angola and Brazil, as well as China, this was more than offset by slowing gains in Russia, and reversals in Iran and Canada (though the latter may be temporarily constrained from getting all its oil to market). Overall, the advancing group slowed from 2700kb/d per year to only 2000 kb/d per year between 2004 and 2005.

Saudi Arabia held up increases well in 2005 but as most of us are aware, it's production has been decreasing in 2006 (a theme recently taken up at Econbrowser). To update my Saudi/Russia graph with monthly EIA data, here's the situation:

Monthly Saudi Arabian and Russian production Jan 2002-March/May 2006. Graph is not zero-scaled. Source: EIA Table 1.1 through March, and news reports for April and May Saudi production.

Russia has not reached it's December peak again yet, and Saudi Arabia may possibly be in decline, if the news reports hold up and the trend continues.

Any idea of the error range of annual production figures from BP report? Is it +/- 100,000 barrels per day, say, or more accurate?
the importance of russia and saudi arabia here is pretty damn clear.

Both of which have probably hit peak
(Russia its 2nd peak)

But - from these graphs it seems to me like saudi-arabia and russia increased their production by a great deal the previous year. How can we know they have hit their peaks?
"How can we know they have hit their peaks?"

Repetitive Comments Follow

The following is all based on Khebab's technical work.

Based on the Hubbert Linearization (HL) method, Saudi Arabia is at the same point at which Texas started its terminal decline.

Again based on the HL method, Russia's increase in production, following the post-Soviet production collapse, just made up for what was not produced earlier. As they have gotten closer to where cumulative production should be based on the HL method, their rate of growth has been slowing, prior to--IMO--a long term production decline.  I have been predicting double digit decline rates for Russia.

Consumption is growing in the US, China Russia and Saudi Arabia.  

There is increasing evidence that production is falling in all four countries.  

This is the point that I have been hammering on for months--that we are facing the prospect of a severe net oil export crisis.  

HL plots of Texas, Lower 48, Saudi Arabia & the World:
The aboce article's link to econbrowser brought me eventually to here:


Now, I thought "Platts" had reported that Saudi is going to just try to maintain production at present levels--to stave off 8% declines, and turn them into 2% declines with "technology"...

It seems like the kingdom currently in Arabia does not have its story straight...

Westexas, do you believe that the Sauds can increase production that high?

If I understand correctly, SA are talking about 12 mbpd PLUS 1,5 - 2 mbpd spare capacity, dvs 13,5 - 14 mbpd.  That means they must find an additional 8% production every year to compensate for decline, AND also increase production 50% plus over the next 3 years.  
Pigs will definitely be airborne shortly.
Mr F;
In reading the article posted, Saudi Armco stated:

"Saudi Aramco currently has half a dozen major crude oil increments at various stages of development, with a total production capacity of some three million barrels per day, according to the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer Abdallah S. Jumah.

"In other words, in the next five to six years, we will be adding production capacity. Some of that capacity will offset natural decline, while the remainder will serve to expand our maximum sustained production capability, which by the end of 2009 will reach 12 million barrels per day," he said.

"At the same time, in keeping with Saudi Arabia's current oil policy and as a commitment to world oil markets, we will maintain our surplus production capacity of one-and-a-half to two million barrels a day, even as our actual production grows."

This doesn't add up.
If you take an optomistic view of current Saudi oil production @ 9.5 mbd and take out 8% per annum for current fields depletion rates you come up with the following numbers until 2009:
year        bpd    
2006        9.5
2007        8.74
2008        8.04
2009        7.40

Add the 3 mbd they say they are adding to production, over 6 yyears and you can only get declines, and no net increase in production.
I have noticeed this on many Saudi statements, they say one thing and give stats that say another.
Naresh UK  

Yep, in 2012 I see them at 8.7MB/day based on the figures...

8% decline and adding 3MB/Day from other wells?

Even their reported math doesn't add up (I had read somewhere else that with the other added wells they can cut decline to 2%)

Just take 9.5 MB/day and decline it at 2% per year.
At 2012 you have 8.4 MB/Day

At the 9.5 MB/Day 8% Decline and adding 3.5 MB/Day you end up with 8.76 MB/Day  

Eh... what's 300,000 B/day give or take...

Of course it's the end of the day for me, my math could be off a tad :-/

I'm just guessing (like everyone else), but it seems more reasonable that the 8% number probably means that, of their fields which are in decline, those fields are declining at 8%.  S.A. did not say every current field in S.A. is declining at 8%.
Sounds reasonable to me, do you know which fields are in decline, we can crunch those numbers pretty quick :)
according to the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer Abdallah S. Jumah.

"In other words, in the next five to six years, we will be adding production capacity. Some of that capacity will offset natural decline, while the remainder will serve to expand our maximum sustained production capability, which by the end of 2009 will reach 12 million barrels per day," he said.

The above is an interesting quote. He says that SA expand "sustained maximum production to 12 million." My impression is that SA's current sustained maximum production is 11.5 mbd....the 9.5 million they currently produce and the two million in heavy crude that they could produce that no one will take. A literal interpretation here suggests that the Saudi's are running very hard just to stay in place. They just may be nothing more than hamsters on a wheel at this point.

I agree.  It's my impression that when you also take into consideration the 2 mbpd reserve they intend to keep, the actual production goal is 10 mbpd.  Not a great deal more than the recent 9.5 mbpd - and this is only a goal, not a reality for a few more years.  
From the Energy Bulletin:

China: Oil giants plan to cut gasoline exports

The Standard

China, formerly Asia's biggest gasoline exporter, plans to cut shipments of the fuel for a fourth consecutive month to meet domestic demand, contributing to a shortage that boosted prices in the region.

PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, which exported an average of 466,386 tonnes a month last year, may cut shipments to as little as 130,000 tonnes this month, according to three traders involved in the transactions who asked not to be named.

Reduced supplies from China helped to drive benchmark 92-RON gasoline to a record US$90.55 (HK$706.29) a barrel in Singapore on May 15. Soaring demand in the world's third-biggest vehicle market is trimming its gasoline surplus, prompting Beijing to impose restrictions on exports.
(13 June 2006)

The effect on the gasoline price is clearly seen here:-

Singapore gasoline prices

My back of the envelope calculations show that this reduction in exports represents approx $235,620,000 loss in foriegn earnings every month (using the $68 start of year price) - offset slightly by the increased price of remaining exports.
A small example of the economic impact on producing countries as their net export capacity reduces.  Although I am not an economist and do not fully understand global flows of capital, it seems to me that this represents a reduction in  the ability of China to then import goods and services.

Repeated worldwide, the only winners in this scenario are countries whose export capacity related to thier consumption is so great that the increased price exceeds the lost exports.

I think you would have to subtract the cost of the imported oil and the cost of the imported capital equipment.

For China losing revenue from gasoline exports has to be near inconsequential. The primary reason that China is the region's largest gasoline exporter is because no one really exports gasoline.  It makes much more economic sense to import crude and refine near the point of use. Particularly for net oil importers.

All this means is that China developed its refining sector in anticipation of comsumption growth. In the meantime, they exported excess production. Now that consumption has caught up, they serve local markets.

Using graphs like those are deceptive because you are guessing what the ultimate recoverable oil.  If new fields are found at a later date, then you will need to revised this graph.  That sorts of defeats the purpose of using it to conclude anything substansive.

What we do know is Russia has taxed themselves into a peak production.  If they had continue to open up their oil exploration, some new fields will be in the developing stage, instead of in the planning stage.  With that information, we know definitely they will not be seeing big increases anytime soon.

Saudi Arabia is aggressively bringing extra production just to stave off declining production from old fields.  Going up to 12mbpd should be easy for them, but judging by the resources they have requested to accomplish means that it is not easy and 12mbpd anytime before 2010 is an optimistic prediction.  To 15mbpd requires them to discover many new fields, which they are slow to announce if they have find new fields.  Saudi Arabia refuses to simply pump more oil from existing fields.  That is what they have stated openly.  According to EIA and IEA, they believe Saudi Arabia can pump more oil from existing fields.  

As for demand and supply, we are not satisfying oil demand based on $25.  We are for $70 oil as right now there is more supplies than demand.  

Talking about how to tell if we hit peak for two of the biggest exporters is to see refinery margins tighten a lot for heavy crude refiners like Valero, Exxon and Chevron refinery business!  Then, you will know we hit peak as those are the world's biggest heavy crude refiners.

Saudi Arabia refuses to simply pump more oil from existing fields.

Refuses?  I don't believe they can actually... Simmons pointed this out in his review of several of the papers noted from Aramco Engineers on the difficulties they encountered when trying to Boost the production; they have a sweet spot with the water cut and horizontal drilling, if they push much harder on those aging fields they will damage them severely.

If they're going to boost production it will have to come from other fields IMO.

Simmons says one thing, but claims another.  He puts out lots of sound bites like Saudi oil production will collapse, but in reality, he only asks that Saudi make their data public.  He sees lots of issues with their fields and so questions Saudi's ability to produce that much oil going forward.

With that said, if you want to be reasonable you must trust Saudi chief engineer and his official comments.  It is his words against Simmons.  Until the Saudi's are proven wrong, we cannot trust others who are making claims without proof.  Even Simmons is willing to concede that he is just speculating.

Also, you are right that fields will get damaged.  Nevertheless, experts still believed Saudi's can pump more than they currently are.  Saudi Arabia despite its wealth does not apply state of the art advanced enhanced recovery methods in all their old fields.  According to the Saudi's, they are very conservative with applying aggressively to produce more.

I by no means am saying Saudi's can produce more oil than they are now for many years to come.  All this points to the fact that Saudi's do have more capacity to produce oil for the short term.  Saudi's have price their oil based on many factors including refinery margins.  This prevents them from pushing the oil prices down.  They can only do this during a supply crunch, which we are expecting to last forever.

I'll see and raise you one...

 It is his words against Simmons.  Until the Saudi's are proven wrong, we cannot trust others who are making claims without proof.

Likewise we cannot trust the Saudis claims without proof!  They keep all their data to themselves and shove paper barrels at us and say trust us.  


Have you actually read his book?? His conclusions are based upon data that leads to realistic doubts about what the Saudis claim. That is why he challenges them to make their data public.
So we are supposed to accept the BS doubling of Saudi reserves in the 1980s (along with every other OPEC nation doing exactly the same in the same time period), without any corresponding new discoveries at that time, without any technological breakthroughs at that time that merited reserve increases of that size? And you claim that believing the people who did this is "reasonable"?

Excuse me while I go outside and laugh.

Re:  nth

Repetitive Comments Again

Texas, the Lower 48, total US, the North Sea and Russia have all peaked in the vicinity of 50% of Qt, based on the HL method.  Number of these regions showing higher production than what they had in the vicinity of 50% of Qt?  Zero.

Using only production data through 1970, post-1970 Lower 48 cumulative production, through 2004,  was 99% of what the HL method predicted that that it would be.  

Using only production data through 1984, post-1984 Russian cumulative production, through 2004, was 95% of what the HL method predicted that it would be.  

Deffeyes put the world 50% of Qt mark in December.  World production is down since December.

Saudi Arabia is now at the same point at which the prior swing producer, Texas, started an irreversible decline.  Saudi Arabia has admitted to a 5% decline since December.  

Did oil companies in Texas stop finding oil in 1972, when we peaked?  No, but we couldn't replace the large oil fields like East Texas.  

The problem that Saudi Arabia has is replacing fields like Ghawar.  Is it possible?  Yes, in the since that almost anything is possible.  Is it likely?  No.  

Saudi Arabia is the key,  Almost no one would dispute the premise that is Saudi Arabia has peaked, the world has peaked.   In any case, the HL method and the Texas model indicate that Saudi Arabia is on the verge of a permanent decline, and they have admitted to a 5% decline.

So, are you stating that HL only predicts PO and not daily production numbers?

Just looking at US 48 states.  If you use the URR and plug it to your models, they predicted a higher peak production than reality.  For most countries, this is true.  The reason is that most oil producing states will produce one giant field or a set of fields and wait for it to decline before producing another newly found oil fields.  This seems to happen quite frequently in history.  People don't always find all the big ones at once.  They tend to find one and not come up with another one, until a later date.  And then, they won't be in a hurry to produce the latter fields, until later.

I am not questioning PO dates if you have URR data.  I see more peak dates prior to URR data set predicts and slower declines due to new production coming online after peak production dates.  I have little confidence on predicting production numbers after peak production starts declining when new fields are being added.

Oil companies find the "Big One" fairly early after they are able to drill in the area.  They are hard to miss.

Hard to think of an exception.

"The reason is that most oil producing states will produce one giant field or a set of fields and wait for it to decline before producing another newly found oil fields."

Your statement is one of the most nonsensical things I have ever read.  If we accept it at face value, there must be huge numbers of shut-in billion barrel oil fields around the world.  

The reason the HL method works is that we find the big fields first--whether it's Texas, Russia or Saudi Arabia.  In effect, we are plotting the rise and fall of billion barrel oil fields.  Are there exceptions?  Yes.  Will they make a difference?  NO  

Or let me restate it more clearly.  So far, it has not happened.  Therefore, what you are arguing--that we will see rising production beyond the vicinity of 50% of Qt--has never happened for any of the large producing regions that I have cited.  To top it off, the available data--as predicted by the HL method--are showing production declines for Saudi Arabia and the world.  What part of this is not clear?

"I have little confidence on predicting production numbers after peak production starts declining when new fields are being added."

Perhaps I have not been clear enough.  

At my request, Khebab took only the production data through 1970 and used it to predict post-1970 Lower 48 production.  We pretended that the post-1970 data did not exist.  Khebab had no agenda.  He treated this as a scientific experiment.

The post-1970 cumulative Lower 48 produciton data, through 2004, was 99% of what the HL model predicted it would be.  Over a thirty four (34) year period. the HL method predicted the cumulative Lower 48 production within 1%.  

Using the same method, post-1984 cumulative Russian oil production was 95% of what the HL method predicted it would be (through 2004).  As Russian oil production has gotten closer to 100% of what the HL method predicted, the rate of growth in Russian production has slowed, and most recently started declining.  I predict that Russia is facing a catastrophic decline.  

Again, I am presenting easily verifiable facts.  You are asserting that we should rely on the opinions of the oil producers.  

I am a little lost.
Who's pre 1970 numbers are you using?

I don't believe it is fair to leave out Deep Sea drilling as most people do when modeling lower 48 states.  Since pre 1970 already knew Alaska had oil, why does the model have to exclude it?

My point is that in real life, we always have oil fields that are developed later like Alaska and GoM, so using URR to predict peak is going to overestimate the time frame.  We should hit PO a lot earlier.  If peak is earlier, then the post peak will be less decline.  Russia is a perfect example of that as you pointed out.

Your remarks on KSA have been capably addressed by others, so I'll confine myself to what you say about Russia.
It's a combination of standard economist's obtuseness and outright propaganda for the oligarchic criminals who brought the country to its knees in the 90s.
At last they have been forced to pay a reasonable share of profits, comparable to that in Norway. There is no basis for blaming the flattening out of production on that. Russia is simply producing at the geological limits it was maintaining before the 90s collapse.
I don't think we can be certain of it.
It's unclear to me what a change in annual production over a span of 3-4 years, compared to same over 1-2 years actually means (albeit I'm not the brightest of statisticians).

[OT] Is Stuart going to continue with the physics and energy in econimics series (or did I miss something)?

Data for 01-04 is annualised  - eg average per year over this period.
The increase for Venezuela must be rather doubtful. They apparently have to buy oil on to fill their delivery commitments (and to compensate for the damage that placing Chavez's political allies in charge of the oil fields has done).

Also, the US figures for last year do not back up the idea of an increase in Venezuela.

Good point, is the oil Venezuela buys and re-exports getting counted twice?
Yeh, that Heavy Oil turned out to be a little harder to pump out than they thought heh?
For the PO people a very thoughtful article from a Canadian professor.  A must read.!!!

http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=783d3834-5009-425b-a22d-b8acda2ea93b& amp;rfp=dta

Keep the Faith

I can only refer you to the Brown/Anderson/Drake article in the Dallas Morning News:  http://www.energybulletin.net/17009.html

Notice that the author of the National Post article made no mention of the North Sea or of the recent production declines worldwide.  

What I got out of his article is simply , we humans are a resourseful and inventive bunch and and not only will we suvive we will prosper,  Like I said keep the faith.
Please keep your faith to yourself, or for whatever religious website you want - this is a place for facts and logic.  You're faith-based cheerleading is annoying - if I want that I'll listen to the BS that passes for media here in the US!
Here are a few facts,  Americans will still buy new cars and trucks but the Ford  F150 and  Explorers will never sell in the numbers like they did in 2004.  Wood pellets, the local stores were selling new stoves off the truck last winter and the manufactures of pellets for the first time couldn't keep up with demand, even though it was a mild winter.  A friend of mine just had his 30 year old windows replaced with new vinal high efficent ones and the contractor is booked through early September. You see I don't believe that this story is only happening in my part of the world but is happening all over the USA. In the end people will work in their own best interest.
In the end people will work in their own best interest.

That's what I'm afraid of.  

Google the tragedy of the commons.

Many people have figured out that HAVING commons is actually the best way to serve their real best interests..

Reclaiming the Commons- Yes Magazine

Boy, is it scary saying anything positive sometimes..
What if I'm wrong?  What if they call me names?

Paden and Emmet - Silverado

They jumped you
out of the blue?

I had to get up anyway.

Me, I'm riding along
minding my own business.

Four cowboys come by, and we decide
to ride together. Friendly as can be.

I figure you should approach life like
everybody's your friend or nobody is.

Don't make much difference.

Suddenly everybody's
pointing their gun but me.

Guess they admired my horse.

Looks like that's not all
they admired.

Yep. My whole rig.

I don't care much about the rest...

but I surely will miss
that bay.

I figure you should approach life like
everybody's your friend or nobody is.

I don't.  

Have you ever heard of the Machiavellian Theory of Intelligence?  It's the theory that human intelligence evolved not for tool use or hunting or language, but for politics.  For figuring out who can be trusted, who can't.  Who's on your side, who isn't.  Who is allied with friends, and who is allied with your enemies.

I don't either, but I'm a lot closer to Paden than to Machiavelli.

 I haven't seen the conclusions of Machiavelli ever draw me to him as a really complete observer of Human Nature.  Realpolitik, the modern version of the Lessons to the Prince, is seductive in its certainty, but gets its answers by removing the uncertainties of Humanity, and reducing spirit and emotion to calculable icons.

 'People will always be selfish, and when they aren't, they still are, and when they really aren't, well that's just an abberation, or your data's off, or they are and they're just being sneakier than I am.  Those who disagree are kidding themselves.'


It's merely a descriptive term, not a literal argument for Machiavelli's philosophy.
Right. I should have just admitted that 'No, I haven't heard of it.' But it does seem well named.

But if I can attempt, from beyond the grave, to turn Ol' Niccola over once again, I'll offer this other, frighteningly cheery aphorism..

"The only way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend."

But forget all that.  The comment on human nature that I had posted on originally is really the one that works on my thoughts, being that 'Building up the Society.. or commons, social capital.. etc, is frequently in the best interests of the individual'..

It seems our Pioneer attitude or something like it, still has us thinking that isolation and the personal stash is the holy-grail in security.  A little more cynically, of course, is the conclusion that the efficiencies and security of 'sharing' at the community and national levels flies in the face of the greater profit/power-potential in keeping people 'separate-but-scared'..  Hence the easy-demonization of words that share their roots with "Community" and "Social"..

What makes me nervous is that you can't really have community without also having outsiders.  A community is as much about who doesn't belong as about who does.  
Sure, and 'us/them' issues are perrennial.. but it all hangs on the setup, on the definitions, and these things have both an Historical weight, but also get redefined by key events (!) as societies age.

I witnessed a great display, once..  I was a camp-counselor at a weeklong event hosted by a Maine Summer camp for Kids from Russia and America to meet up and do camp stuff together.  It was 1987, basically on the eve of Glasnost, and cultural ties were happening here and there with the USSR, and this was a great example of ways of creating international connections and knowledge.

One evening, we invited one of the Native American Tribes in Maine to come in and teach us all a little about their culture.  They demonstrated a ceremony down by the lakefront, and it turned out to be a ritual that would happen to offer peace to a tribe that you had been warring with.  We watched this, and then learned some of the dances and actions that this process entailed; and it was all being spoken out, first in the Tribe's language (I don't recall which people it was), translated into English, and from that, translated into Russian.  So this offering of peace was in the air around us, in these three deserving languages.

This is not to suggest that it's inevitable, just possible.

Garrett Hardins Commons is an ahistorical petri dish. Or test tube. Real life commons are more useful more interesting more flexible. Check the historical origins of the term.
You are committing the common sin of cherry picking a few little facts that support your case without questioning whether they generalize to the population at large? I mean, I can point out the half-dozen new F350s in the parking lot outside my work-place, but does that say anything about the larger picture.

I've believe that a 50% reduction in per-capita energy usage is doable in North America (thanks to Amory Lovins). However, this alone doesn't allow me to sleep soundly at night. For one, just because it's doable doesn't mean it will be done and done in time. For two, it's still going to take a massive investment (ie. effort, time, and resources) and an equally massive social change.

Not that it won't happen, it will. But I suspect it's going to sting.

  I don't hear anything but 'Faith in People' in jamaica's post.  Take a pill, and get that chunk of Manflesh out of your mouth..

  'Facts and Logic' sure sounds pure and euclidian, but you know that the 'Hard Numbers' are going to be affected by any number of subjective actions by well-intentioned Gentlemen-scientists..  I respect science, but I can't pretend that it doesn't get self-satisfied, cultlike and rigid in its thinking, just because human-beings are involved.  It is one of our most classic dualities, Holding on (to a notion, in this case), and letting go of it.  We get stuck holding on too hard, either to an outmoded religious or scientific concept, and it doesn't have the freedom to readjust to a changing world.

  That's why having faith in Humanity is not at all anathema to this conversation, though it may simply be a key 'Harmonic' to the particulars of Petroleum production.  We're not just talking about what is happening to Oil Production, but what personal, political and cultural actions are affecting our use of this resourse, and how we might be able to react to the next turns in this road.  If our sciences are to play in informing and saving ourselves in this mess, they will only do so ~Within~ the context of Human Nature, which we cannot escape.  Your annoyance at his (her?) optimism only reconfirms this to me.

Jokuhl, whatever the faults of science they are miniscule compared to the faults of faith. Jamaica's post was pure "don't worry, be happy, everything will be okay if you only keep the faith." If you think that contains any logic or reasoning then I pity you.

What we are trying to do here is comb through the facts and gleen from them some guidance for the future, or at least tell us what scenario is most likely to happen. "Keep the faith" is exactly the kind of argument we DO NOT need here.

I believe, after examining the data from all oil producing nations for well over five years now, that we are indeed on the cusp of peak oil. I also believe that all the technology and other fixes that are supposed to save us from the terrible consequences of peak oil are mostly wishful thinking. Therefore I am forced into the conclusion that compared to the consequences of peak oil all other events in human history will shrink to insignificance.

However if either you or Jamaica has a rebuttal to my conclusion or Vegan's opinion, then we would be very glad to hear them. However simply uttering "keep the faith" adds nothing but religious opinion to the debate. And if there is anything we do not need here is religion.

And by the way, Vaclav Smil's opinions, expressed in the article in question, have been rebutted many times on this and other forums, as well as about a dozen books on the subject. His opinions that Middle East reserves expressed by BP and others, are just as likely to be low as high is absurd to say the least. And I would be very glad to discuss that subject if you would like.

Your "we" and "us" logic is questionable. I assume both George Soros and a starving Ethiopian are included in your "we" and "us".
Both Soros and the Ethiopian are "not us" from an interesting and increasingly popular point of view. Of course, you will reject this point of view if you are a universalist, neokantian, or global-democracy quisling.
Thanks.  I cherish your pity.

I'm sure there are things that we don't need here, and 'BLIND Faith' might well be one of them, but there is a lot of blind faith around that is not borne out of religion, and there is a definition of faith that doesn't mean "Unquestioning Allegience to some Deity" ..  But if you really want to disinvite any comments that say "I'm willing to bet that we can get ourselves through this somehow", are you also willing to be as exclusionary to our most-revered doomers, who are so happy to have to 'sadly inform us' of our thoroughly hopeless situation?  Is either extreme inherently MORE logical or rational than the other?

My response was to jamaica's comments, however, and not the article he linked to, in case that piece had brought up some religious implications his own statements did not.  To me, anyway, 'Faith' does not mean 'sit back, everything will be taken care of for you', it means 'Feet, don't fail me now'..  or "Dear God, don't let me F** this up" (Sheppard, The Right Stuff.. God, am I using another Scott Glenn line?  God, did I just say God again?  Bad Unitarian, Bad! Oh phew, we don't have sin, do we?.. do we?)  

But Keep the Faith does not (necessarily) mean "Stay the Course", or "Business as Usual", and it does not preclude, in fact it necessitates keeping your eyes open to the facts of the world, and using your (G* given) logic, reason, and also compassion, imagination, patience, understanding.  MY faith is that, in addition to our fear, anger, gluttony, shortsightedness and inclination to punch and to steal;  that we also have and remember to use our Logic, Reason, Compassion, Imagination, Patience and Understanding.

"My faith lies in my belief in the individual to develop non-violence. In a gentle way, you can shake the world."

no, no, no.. scratch that.. how about..

"Just what makes that Little old Ant,
Think he'll climb a Rubber-tree plant.."
(While you pity me, I hope I havenow demonically hexed you with this insipid song-virus.   Blessed Be)

If memory serves, it was "God..., please don't let me fuck this up."
I just can't resist taking bites out of Grandiose statements..

"whatever the faults of science they are miniscule compared to the faults of faith"

Should we really take that one on?  The upshot of science is that it has become a faith that has given us precisely the problems that this site is here to discuss, plus Climate Science.  My first thought, when I looked at this was to say 'wait, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, GM-food, Television..' , but clearly, it goes a lot further than that.  Or is science simply a convenient and horrendously scalable enabler that has simply found some nice synergy with the same human foibles that gave us the Inquisition, Witch-burning and Pat Robertson?

No, it is with both of them, the stubborn certainty of one's own rightness, despite some nagging and inconvenient evidence to the contrary.  Not all science does this, nor does all of religion.  But the bodycount would be hard put to show one decisively ahead of the other..  Each tries to explain the world, and each inevitably comes upon the questions and ramifications of power and control, and too often gets snarled there..

Religion does have a head start, but Science has been catching up pretty methodically, especially if you count all the Bunnies and Doggies who die, painfully displaying very poor and overdone applications of eye-shadow and Rat-poison.. it may allow for self-questioning, and revisions, but cold-hearted calculation may not be the best path towards Sainthood.

You are amazingly rude, and I believe that incivility is never justified. Although I believe that Jamaica is mistaken, I also think that she has the right to voice her opinion in any forum that she wishes as long as she wishes. And as long as we are aon the subject of inappropriate subjects, what in the hell does being a vegan have to do with peak oil?  
"You are amazingly rude, and I believe that incivility is never justified."

Incivility is certainly justified in this case, but I will not resort to it.

what in the hell does being a vegan have to do with peak oil?

Being a vegan means we don't need the 70% of agricultural land for cattle pasture or animal feed crops anymore.

No, unless everyone else becomes one too.
"we humans are a resourseful and inventive bunch and not only will we survive we will prosper"

There are three statements here.  I agree with the first, "resourseful and inventive bunch."  I have problems with the second (and especially the third), "and not only will we survive we will prosper."  

Prospering implies an infinite growth rate against a finite resource base.

This article is, IMO, just part of my "Iron Triangle" thesis.  There are powerful forces that are intent on persuading consumers to continue the 50 mile commute in a $50,000 SUV to and from a $500,000 mortgage lifestyle.

All those societies that have collapsed and disappeared over the years no doubt had faith that they would survive and prosper.  There are some bright spots, like what Japan did with its forests, but overall we human beings have demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to limit our numbers and consumption in order to live within the limits of our particular ecosystem.

Sadly, we are now talking about exceeding the carrying capacity of not just some local ecosystem or island but the entire planet.

People are either unaware of the problem or if aware have decided that there is nothing they can do about it so we should just party on until the music stops. Since their doesn't seem to be anything stopping the year to year increases in temperature, especially in neck of the woods, I guess I can understand the latter view.

Anecdotal evidence that some people are taking action doesn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy.   Once the major governments of the world set attainable and enforceable and timely goals to drastically reduce our energy consumption, then I will have some reason for hope.  However, given the fact that China is building a coal plant a week, doesn't give me much reason for hope.  

Faith is not the belief that today will not end, but that tomorrow will dawn.

"People are either unaware of the problem or if aware have decided that there is nothing they can do about it so we should just party on until the music stops."

So which are you? ..or are there more than Two kinds of people out there?  We're not anecdotally working on changes to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.  I don't personally know you well enough for that.  There are other reasons..

Neither.  I soldier on because of hope but not because of faith. That's a thin thread, I know, but that's the way it is. I have little moments of hope when I see something good happening but the overall picture is daunting.

If I didn't care, I wouldn't be participating at this site.

How long have you been a student of PO?
I have seen Valclavs pieces before.
On a personal level, like most in the western world, I would prefer VS to be right and Campbell et al to be wrong and in a perfect world, technology and ingenuity would 'take care' of us.

However, the numbers (IMO) just dont stack up. All oil provences go into decline, and ergo, in due course the world as total oil provence will go into decline.

CTL ,biodiesel, Tar sands etc all may help mitigate the worst effects for a while, but only for a while as the gap between readily accessible liquids and base load demand grows inexorably larger with time as we go beyond peak.

Could be we are at Peak now, could be there are still a few elephants or half - elephants out there which will shift peak date at little further away.

jamaica22. You got kids?
If you have, pray that Valclav is right, but act as if you agree with Campbell et al.

And no, dont go looking for another site. Keep coming back:

Faith is nothing if not tested.



Yes I have a kid and yes the earth's resourses are finite, but I believe the human spirit is infinite. Who would have believed in the 80's that I could have a little Gateway sitting next to my desk that would be more powerful than the first Cray supercomputer, but it is. Things are moving faster now so in just 10 years we will be wowed I am sure.

Well lets just hope so.

But in the mean time:

'Plan for the worst, hope for the best'.

And remember:

'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail'.

Mudlogger's statement:

I believe the human spirit is infinite.

Vaclav Smil's declarations:

Unless we believe, preposterously, that human inventiveness and adaptability will cease the year the world reaches the peak annual output of conventional crude oil, we should see that milestone (whenever it comes) as a challenging opportunity rather than as a reason for cult-like worries and paralyzing concerns.

I agree with these statements Shocker as it may seem!

Yes we are an ingenious species!
We invented the Invisible Hand.
We invented various dieties.
We invented belief in human dominance over Mother Nature.

We are so clever.
Surely we will invent new forms of
delusionment that will help ease our
child-like minds over "the edge"
when Global Peak Oil finally appears
undeniably in our rear view mirrors.

(The only thing we have to fear is ...
inconvenient truth by itself.)

I think the thing that people like Valclav forget to mention is that we may not experience the apocalyptic scenarios that Kunstler et. al are proposing, but we that's if people are willing to start cutting back. Ask yourself, are you willing to live like they do in rural China? Are you willing to see the middle class dissolve and the elite to become overwhelmingly wealthy while the rest of us become servile workers in ever growing cities or rural areas that have become third world? So it may not happen this year, but even Valclav won't deny that it will happen eventually, and since the sun is the only energy source on our planet with oil being a long-term store, what's going to take it's place? Fusion/hydrogen? Where will the H2 come from? Water, great, we're allready in a major carrying capacity type of worldwide water crisis... Natural gas, wait, we're allready getting tight on stores! S**t, it seems like we're already tight on resources. And it takes resources to come up with alternatives, but wait, hmmm, isn't there another option? I know, solar towers! Or how about wind farms! Wait, steel is getting in short supply... but they could just stop making hummers and cars and wait, that's not what I wanted in the first place... and what's happening with electric cars? I can't take a cross-country road trip with my 2.5 children in a car that has a range of 100 miles and goes 35 mph!

I agree with other posters, Valclav's arguments are dangerous, on the level of the fire department coming to your house and saying "That fire could be bigger or smaller than we think, it's impossible to rule out either possibility but it's better to just not panic. We'll come back tomorrow and check on it." Hurrah for human ingenuity. According to many different people an oil shock to $120 a barrel would shut down food shipments to the continents interior, at least temporarily. Judging from the way people reacted after Katrina, I'm buying a few guns...

Oh, and don't use the "keep the faith" comment to promote your cult of optimism. Americans seem to thing that the world is only right when everybody has a s**t-eater grin on their face. Tell that to the kids in China making your $10 digital watch. "Keep the faith kids, someday you'll be blind and begging on the streets, but Joey over in the states doesn't know what time it is, so keep working!"

I'm done ranting now, sorry.

Jim Kunstler continuously reminds us that technology is not energy. We should resist the urge to conflate the two.

I have faith that mankind will do whatever it needs to preserve itself. I'm hoping for better.


If I may wryly observe here for a moment ... some would have us not conflate energy with technology ... while at the same time they are happy to conflate oil with (total) energy.

(I wonder what a hybrid gets it's extra oomph from if not technology?)

A hybrid doen't have extra oomph.  I just wastes less energy than a Hummer
It is true that the most well known hybrid Prius has a small gasoline engine and is optimized for fuel efficiency.  I happen to own one and am very happy to drive it. But there is no reason why an electric motor cannot augment a large gasoline engine so that the drive train is optimized for acceleration.  See: http://www.penn-partners.org/evteam/attack.htm
Thus peak-oil aware consumers should shop carefully for hybrid cars and look closely at fuel economy claims.
geez, oomph in this case mean carrying 4 people plus gear in air conditioned comfort at 70 mph with 105F external temperatures.  try it sometime.
sorry, forgot to say scoring 50+ mpg the whole way
Oomph is torque. It is a simple low-tech matter to wind an electric motor to favor torque.
Hybrid torque is good for emergency situations. It also allows the wee ICE to keep the family size vehicle at a steady speed on a grade.
Excessive use of oomph for oomph sake will lower gas mileage.
i'll have to be less metaphorical with you guys.
Who would have believed in the 80's that I could have a little Gateway sitting next to my desk that would be more powerful than the first Cray supercomputer, but it is. Things are moving faster now so in just 10 years we will be wowed I am sure.

This is such a common sentiment among techies.  They assume all technologies follow Moore's Law.  Just bc/ a computer has twice as many resistors today than it had a couple years ago doesn't mean all technologies have an every 2 year doubling rate.  Furthermore, just bc/ we can process information faster does not necessarily translate into solutions for technical problems. When I took pharmacology in medical school in the mid-90's we were told computers would be powerful enough in just a few years that we would just load in the structure of a bacterial protein and presto the computer would come up with a compound that would destroy or inhibit the bacterial protein function.  More than ten years later (and 32 doublings of transistor density and processor speed) we really aren't any closer to doing this.  In fact, much like oil discovery, antibiotic discovery peaked in the 1960's and is in decline.  Only 2 new classes were invented in the last 3 decades and these are expensive and have a narrow scope of application.  Most technologies follow an S-shaped curve where the initial phase is slow and then there's an explosive growth phase and then it levels off.  We're in desperate need of major breakthroughs and paradigm shifts if technology is going to save us.  We are reaching the upper flat arm of the Industrial technology S-shaped curve.  I don't think that the information revolution counts as a major breakthrough or scientific paradigm shift that will save us from peak oil and climate change.

I am a techie, I've been in the IT Industry for 15 years.  Personally, I tend to view it more of Physics...

Technology is pushing the envelope now.  Processing really can't go much faster with current technologies as you can see by the current processing speed (the argue is of course hardware / software one drives the other, we won't go there)... let's just say with current technologies we've just about hit a wall.  

Now maybe the J. Cricket crowd of nanotechnology will be our next leap but I personally feel that's 10-20 years away as it's all lab/theory at this point.



The other day I had to update my annual Norton software agreement.  It occured to me that my computer is now exactly 2 years old and I don't already wish I had a better, faster one.  When I bought my previous computer in 2000 (700 mHz/ 64 MB RAM) I found that by the time it was out of the box, I could get a 1 GHz/ 128 MB computer for the same price.  Yet I looked into what was available.  For the same price as I paid 2 years ago, I get the exact same computer except with a 20" monitor instead of the 17" monitor.  Is the PC market no longer be growing exponentially as it did in the 80's and 90's.  

Am I missing something here or are we for practical purposes already falling off the technological curve?

Yes, we may look back one day and decide that Intel's current troubles marked a turning point.
Yes, and it's not just intel, it's a market problem with regard to the "wall" being faced.  

Moore's Law in affect...


"Am I missing something here or are we for practical purposes already falling off the technological curve?"

Well, we're definitely in a plateau of sorts... unless nanotechnology saves the day.

Semiconductors are reaching their limits and that's why you don't see us making leaps and bounds with processor speeds now.

Just a quick scan of the article (there are tons)

The doubling of transistor density every 18 months, which Gordon Moore predicted, is coming smack up against nearly impenetrable heat and cost barriers. Unless something radically new intervenes, the industry will begin a gradual descent into slow growth and diminished profitability.

The industry's ability to deliver ever more intelligent portable devices will be the first victim; such devices will start falling noticeably off the downward cost curve around 2010. But ultimately other forms of computing will sink into an ever-widening malaise. Given current trends, that could begin around 2014.

So we have PO and PT (Peak Technology) real close to each other, isn't that nice.


Try reading the first 110 pages of Ray Kurzweil's "The Singularity Is Near". It contains lots of charts on the progress of tech over long periods of time. The basic conclusion is that changes are happening even more rapidly now than in the past. Highly recommended (the rest of the book is speculative about the future, and rather scary for some people).
Here's the Singularity is Near

Some other comments on Singularity:

Douglas Hofstadter (Singularity Summit) put it well: "It's like listening to only one side of a divorce." He continued by calling for extensive discussion of the singularity idea among mainstream academia, which I agree is precisely what is needed to either back or debunk it.

The Singularity Is Fiction, Not Science

By Brian Carnell

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Glenn Reynolds has an odd, but all too typical, defense of the bizarre notion of the technological singularity. Addressing critics of singularity theology, Reynolds writes,

I've heard talk about the Singularity dismissed as "the rapture for nerds," but I think that's mere dismissal, and not very persuasive. It is, instead, an illustration of Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I wrote a song about that, too, once but it wasn't a hymn!

There might be some sort of argument in there, but I confess I cannot find it. Fortunately, Reynolds helps debunk the singularity nonsense by linking to a post by Phil Bowermaster. Bowermaster in turn quotes from singularity guru Ray Kurzweil's book, The Singularity Is Near. Kurzweil nicely illustrates the sort of nonsense that lies just under the surface of most strains of singularity arguments,

Evolution moves towards greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love. In every monotheistic tradition God is likewise described as all of these qualities, only without limitation: infinite knowledge, infinite intelligence, infinite beauty, infinite creativity, infinite love, and so on. Of course, even the accelerating growth of evolution never achieves an infinite level, but as it explodes exponentially it certainly moves rapidly in that direction. So evolution moves inexorably towards this conception of God, although never quite reaching this ideal. We can regard, therefore, the freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form to be an essentially spiritual undertaking.

This is fiction, not science. Kurzweil's description of evolution as moving towards "greater levels of subtle attributes such as love" is simply Teilhard de Chardin's teleological nonsense coated with a high-tech veneer. Instead of de Chardin's Omega Point, we're given the "singularity" which will bring transcendence.

It's an interesting read, I'll leave it to you in coming up with which path to accept :-)


The first 110 pages are mostly about past tech innovation and trends, not about "The Singularity".  That's all I was recommending.
Understood, I like the divorce analogy. It's good to hear both sides wouldn't you agree?

Fyi, here's one of my favorite sites to visit daily:



I think the problem with the divorce analogy is that it assumes  that both sides have valid issues to discuss.

Instead, I would use a lawsuit analogy, in which some suits are thrown out as without merit, if not downright frivolous.

Bradshaw, I'm definitely a "both sides" guy. Also, I will bookmark physorg.com

Donal, yes many things are "thrown out as without merit".

From Bryan Appleyard, the times:


Article was about peak oil and also peak ideas. An excerpt:

''Even if we did throw money at the problem, it's not certain we could fix it. One of the strangest portents of the end of progress is the recent discovery that humans are losing their ability to come up with new ideas.
Jonathan Huebner is an amiable, very polite and very correct physicist who works at the Pentagon's Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California. He took the job in 1985, when he was 26. An older scientist told him how lucky he was. In the course of his career, he could expect to see huge scientific and technological advances. But by 1990, Huebner had begun to suspect the old man was wrong. "The number of advances wasn't increasing exponentially, I hadn't seen as many as I had expected -- not in any particular area, just generally."
Puzzled, he undertook some research of his own. He began to study the rate of significant innovations as catalogued in a standard work entitled The History of Science and Technology. After some elaborate mathematics, he came to a conclusion that raised serious questions about our continued ability to sustain progress. What he found was that the rate of innovation peaked in 1873 and has been declining ever since. In fact, our current rate of innovation -- which Huebner puts at seven important technological developments per billion people per year -- is about the same as it was in 1600. By 2024 it will have slumped to the same level as it was in the Dark Ages, the period between the end of the Roman empire and the start of the Middle Ages.''

Again, I would point to "The Singularity Is Near" (first 110 pages). The idea is that innovations start out with few people even knowing about them. These innovations can grow exponentially, again, without many people knowing about them -- until suddenly they seem to "explode" into view (and then interact with each other in unpredicatable ways).

Kurzweil has a web site that tries to ferret out info about these innovations, some of which are mindboggling -- for instance, I saw him describe a synthetic-hemaglobin that would allow a human to hold their breath for an hour under water.

Not much ferreting out needed - if anyone on earth produces a wildly speculative technological idea, it'll be all over the media as an already practical invention within 24 hours.
So true. Any lull in BCR or Britney Spears sends them into a flurry for "news".
I read the singularity is near.  I can only comment with any confidence on his medical comments and predictions.  In are word they are greatly overblown.  It seemed to me he got his information directly from the advertisemnts that biotech companies mail to potential investors.  As I've said before the rate of discover in medicine is slowing.  50 years ago we prevented 10's of thousands of cases of polio paralysis with vaccination.  Now a "breakthrough" is a chemotherapy that increases cancer 5 year survival from 24 months to 26.  If the rest of his information is grounded in as much fact as his medical predictions, I discount it entirely.
At last, it seems that the Peak Oil debate has started in Canada.

I tough we were just sleeping tighter than is the US.  At least he is arguing/bargaining against Peak Oil, thus elevating the debate here from non existant to existant.  Denial phase is out, he is now in the second phase.

I hope the debate will be picked up in french Quebec, I will then stup up and bring forward my report and probably ask for some help from Khebab.

I have presented my report to my city council and we plan on putting up a biointensive gardening course in fall.  Each solution that I bring up will be positive to our economy no matter what happen.  

I dont have faith, I only work toward reaching goals.

Sometimes I think that the difference between PO pessimists and optimists is that pessimists say "This is a crisis!  We are going to have to ramp up renewables and nuclear, increase CAFE standards, import natural gas, develop non-conventional oils, build mass-transit systems, and develop walkable communities!" while the optimists say "Relax, there is no crisis.  All we have to do is ramp up renewables and nuclear, increase CAFE standards, import natural gas, develop non-conventional oils, build mass-transit systems, and develop walkable communities."

At least there is a consensus on what needs to be done !

For a problem as wide ranging in scope and impact, and with the diversity of knowledge, experience & POVs present on TOD, it is a remarkable achievement that we have reached this consensus.

As the MSM becomes more "Peak Aware", I think this consensus will carry forward.  And then result, at some (too ?) late date, in social & political action.


I wish I had written that.


Now the follow up questions.  How do we do this without starting WWIII?  How do we transition to a a zero growth economy without starting a civil war?

without starting WWIII
In that sense we've been given one of the best gifts in the world -- the war in Iraq. People in this country now have little appetite for an (oil?) war now. Thank goodness.
"How do we do this without starting WWIII?"

Step 1- Make sure we don't lose our right to vote.
   I really don't trust Diebold..

My bumper sticker in 2004

"Hal?  Did you get my vote?  Hal?"

First let's regain our right to vote. Don't you remeber the stopping of the recount in Florida two national elections ago or the Massive voter fraud in Ohio in 1984? I'm afraid we will never see another free election
Sorry, I've been programmed to forget.

Wait, I actually don't know the 1984 story, but Poetry will have its Justice..

Anyone NOT read the Kennedy article yet?

Bob Fiske

On the one hand, I think it is great that oil is peaking. I see it as an opportunity.  I have always been energized by the idea of doing more with less or doing the same with less. Regardless of peak oil, this is something we should be doing. Small is beautiful.  What we have created and are creating  is not beautiful.  

If only it were that simple.  Sadly, the major alternative to oil, notwithstanding that oil is a liquid and coal is not, will be coal.  Biofuels will play a limited role and perhaps they should, considering the questionable economics and energy return of ethanol.

We are desperately trying to bring fuel availability up to the level of consumption to which we have become accustomed. You will hear politicians mainly talking about supply, not demand. Supply is fun; conservation is not.  Instead, we should be defining the level of fossil fuels and renewables that we can use and still have a viable, sustainable world that has not been burned to a crisp.  Then we need to define and mandate policies that bring our   consumption and population down to a level that meets that viable and environmentally sound level of supply.

This approach would  require a radical decrease in our level of consumption and would require serious incentives and disincentives to bring down our population.  

Right now, this approach is not politically viable. This is unfortunate because our current approach is getting us nowhere.   All we have now is some bullshit goal to make us independent from the Middle East in a couple of decades.  Meanwhile, the earth burns.

Sometimes I think that the difference between PO pessimists and optimists is that pessimists say "This is a crisis! We are going to have to ramp up renewables and nuclear, increase CAFE standards, import natural gas, develop non-conventional oils, build mass-transit systems, and develop walkable communities!" while the optimists say "Relax, there is no crisis. All we have to do is ramp up renewables and nuclear, increase CAFE standards, import natural gas, develop non-conventional oils, build mass-transit systems, and develop walkable communities."

Great post and rather amusing at that. But Cynus you have it all wrong. You have stated only two positions here. Actually there are hundreds of positions but there are THREE main positions. There is the position of the "Cornucopians", the position of the "Peak Oil Optimists" and the "Peak Oil Pessimist". You have stated the position of the cornucopians and the peak oil optimists. The position of the peak oil pessimists, of which I am one, is that we are indeed on the cusp of paak oil, and the consequences of peak oil along with the consequences of global warming, falling water tables, soil erosion, global pollution, growing population, falling world grain production, species extinction, and far too many other things which I have not time to list, will result in the End Of The World As We Know It.

All the "fixes" that you list would be great. But all of them combined would be far too little too late. We are already deep into overshoot and there is no way of backing out of that in order to save us from the terrible consequences peak oil and all the other problems brought about by the overwhelmingly evolutionary of Homo sapiens.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of
global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization'
or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of
the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious
primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human
advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
     John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

Opps, I meant to say "evolutionary SUCCESS of Homo sapiens."
Actually, I consider you a "Doomer."  I define a doomer as someone who thinks that nothing we do can save us from TEOTWAWKI.  I didn't mention cornucopians and doomers in my post.
There are good-intentioned people in all the disparate camps, from "Camp Cornucopia" to the "Doom&Gloom Daycare Center".

Problem is, the world is incredibly complex.
And we humans are incredibly ignorant and incredibly arrogant.

I mean all of us, especially me.
(The more I learn, the dumber & humbler I feel. I learn a lot from all you TODders out there. Thanks.)

Many in the happy/optimistic camp have no training in science.
They haven't even heard of Murphy's Law and/or if they have, they do not understand its application to complex systems.

They haven't heard of Thermo's Laws of dynamics and/or if they have, do not understand their application to every gizzmo that appears to work by "magic".

(gee, i turn the key and the car just "goes". i flip the switch and the computer just "goes". i push another button and my wishes are fulfilled. ergo, rule #1 of the universe: there is a push button solution for everything.)

That is why the optimists are optimistic.
Ignorance is bliss.

Should we give up?
Of course not.
But we need to wipe those smug smiles off our faces.
We are standing in deep doo doo and the Rescue 911 helicopter is not coming to magically lift us out of the muck. We're either going to crawl out of it on our own or die here while we stand by, daydreaming.

"Many in the happy/optimistic camp have no training in science. They haven't even heard of Murphy's Law and/or if they have, they do not understand its application to complex systems."

Fortunately, I never studied law.  Of course, neither did Murphy.

"Strive Mightily, as Lawyers do in Law, but eat and drink as friends"  Shakespeare

Hey, I've heard of Murphy's Law, it had Sally Fields and James Garner right?  No wait, that was Murphy's Romance...

"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater." --Albert Einstein


Darwinian has it exactly right. The trend for virtually all aspects of the unfolding disaster is down. Most of the problems he or she cites are interelated, are the result of those first ancient steps towards technological civilization (though I would argue that any species that willingly destroys its environment can hardly be called civilized).

The tendency of most people is to specialize. Few people can hold many different concepts, some of which seem to be in opposition, and make the connections to see the wholistic problem. This, of course, is the problem I like to call "Engineer Tunnel Vision" or ETV.

Your average engineer focuses on a problem and tries to discover the best possible solution, and he or she will generally ignore the knock-on consequences. Or, like a scientist, they will admit that they do not know what the future effects may be and, here is the rub, the real sucky part of this problem, they will claim that we cannot know if future results from the fix will be positive or negative, AND THEREFORE THEY WILL GO AHEAD AND DO IT ANYWAY.

Thus we have radioactive materials spreading from the Savannah River plant through the groundwater; teflon, a terribly noxious material, is in everyone's blood; holes in the ozone; GM crops that turn out to be preferred by pests and which screw up other plants. The list is virtually endless.

Now we face the list of problems Darwinian has presented and one must ask, "So, will the engineers and scientists come up with techno fixes for the techno fixes that got us into this screwed up position? Will those fixes cause even worse problems down the road?"

Of course they will. And, sickly, sadly, the one thing that scientists and a few engineers admit is incomplete knowledge, SO THEY WILL DO IT ANYWAY.

My argument will be countered with the time honored misdirection and obfuscation, "Think of all the lives penicillin saved, how many people are fed, how many people are healthy, you don't want to go back to the dark ages, do you?"

First, there is the complete misrepresentation of simpler times. The creed of the techno people is that people whether they be hunter-gatherers, medieval peasants, or farm workers in eighteenth century America, were somehow all milling around unhappily just waiting for the blandishments of technology to rescue them from hell and put 24 hour cable in front of them and a pizza roll in their little hands. Bull.

Secondly, war, famine, pestilence, and disease all continue pretty much unabated, except that we are sooooo much better at killing each other now that we have the technical means. So, to cite that as a difference between simple societies and our techno society does not wash.

The main difference is the impact we have on the environment and the sheer numbers of people we kill with our technology either directly or indirectly.

In other words, we have all the downside of past non-technical civilizations, but little or nearly none of the upside.

Now all of the techno fixes to what were non-problems in the first place are coming to a head. This enourmous interelated techo-clusterfoink is coming at us and coming at us fast.

No one is willing to admit that it was ETV that got us to this point and that ETV will not be the thing that will save us.

Too bad, so sad. Thanks for all the fish, and so long!

So sayeth the dolphin.

Too bad the world hasn't had some omnipresent moderator floating above all humans, to keep us in check.  "No, you can't use this new invention, it will eventually lead your grandchildren to screw up the world."  Or, "yes, that technology is okay, as you can't possibly use it to do any damage."

We are what we are.  As you say, "Too bad, so sad."

I think that all peak oil pesimists are projecting their own fear of death on the situation. Remember we will probably all be dead in 30 or 40 years, and many of us sooner.
  The whole reason that  science replaced alchemy and spiritual revalation as the primary epistomological method was to get away from the sectarian violence in the world.
   The sectarians are still at it and are always trying to lower the level of discourse and draw us in to arguments. Even the true believers of any political stripe do this, they want to change the facts by challenging us personally, not by refuting the information directly.Don't sucker in to their game! This wastes precious time and emotional energy better spent on addressing the problem.
There are scientists who believe we should build another 103 nuke plants. There are scientists who believe we should cover Arizona with PVs. Faith and belief have their places in science and especially in the so called social sciences. All scientists believe in more research grants.
Yes, and as awareness of the multitude of problems grows, so grows the number of technofixes in all their complexity of interactions with unexpected results -- exponentially.
The primary benefit of technology to mankind has been to allow machines to do the work that humans previously did, thereby relieving humans of much back-breaking and/or tedious work. We can now harvest crops, build houses, manufacture goods, etc., using machines to a large extent, freeing humans from having to do many of these tasks by hand. (Of course, the result is that we have endeavored to grow more crops, build larger + better houses, manufacture more exotic + complex products, etc., so that we have not been freed from having to work as much as one might hope.) All of our machines require the availability of cheap energy, and so that is our dilemma in the age of dwindling resources. Its not only that technology has been used to create horrors like nuclear bombs, toxic chemicals, genetically modified "franken-foods", etc., but also that the civilization we've created requires the ready availability of cheap energy sources. If we are at the point where energy is no longer going to be cheap, then the whole foundation of our society is endangered. We are hoping that the technology that got us into this situation will also save us. However, there is only so much energy and resources available on this planet, and we cannot have unending growth without limit. Sooner or later we will have to construct an economy that does not depend on growth, and even have to face lower scarce resources, and still survive. This will require a radical change in our thinking and way of life. It might not even be possible. We may end up killing off a large enough fraction of humanity (whether through war, starvation, extermination, etc.) to again achieve a sustainable resource usage. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
If I agree to live like an eighteenth century American farmworker could we save modern dentistry? And bicycles?
An elegant post.  I understand and agree with it.  However, Jay Hanson would simply retort, "It's all in the genes.  Get over it."

I read a recent press release that said 74% of workers hate their jobs. Now, if people keep doing a job they hate, it seems reasonable to me that they also don't care about future permutations from ETV or anything else.

I agree with what Darwinian and Cherenkov say, and say well.  But it may not be in our genes.  It may be in our culture.  My hope (and hope is, in a way, a crutch that we ought discard) comes from Daniel Quinn.  We are not humanity.  Therefore we need not change human nature.  Just this culture. "Ishmael", "My Ishmael", "The Story of B".
What about the realist view: "The oil is peaking! So it is and we will consume less of it, simply because there is less of it available. There is no point in ramping up renewables and all that. The World will not end, only change and we are going to adapt to it, one way or another. Just relax and slide smoothly down the Hubbert curve."
My two basic "solutions" are not comphrensive, but they reduce energy use by roughly 95% and perform the same basic economic function; transportation.

Move intercity frieght from heavy trucks to electrified rail and we use 95% less energy (and teh energy we use is very flexiable, electricity).

Move people around town on electric rail lines instead of private cars.  About a 12:1 energy savings directly.  By changing the urban form into a more compact and energy efficient city, that savinsg is usually more than doubled.

Such LARGE efficiency gains for a segment of our energy use will give us a "backbone" that can survive and give us a fighting chance of getting "ahead of the curve".

Lots of distinguished people are 'peak oil' deniers, even Presidents of major countries. The Australian Govt's economic advisers (ABARE) said just in 2003 that oil would be US$21 per barrel in 2006, while it has been over $70 for sometime. Instead of looking at how distinguished someone is, look at the facts.
I think this article presents itself in opposition to peak oil, but it is really only in opposition to the "catastrophist" fringe.

It's funny, articles like this can say "peak oil is wrong" but at the same time carry a subtext that peak oil in a more moderate and general sense is true.

I mean, why even suggest that human inventiveness is a factor, unless you are acknowledging that known methods, practices, and resources, are insufficient?

Indeed if you are going to do a paragraph on "energy transitions," you've bought into peak oil.  IMNSHO.

I think it goes in the way I stated it,  getting the Peak Oil debate on is better than not acknowledging it at all.

And yes, reading that article for a second time has brought to ligth that they are advocating many of the mitigation solution forward as to get trough this.

For something to be true or false, it as to exist first.

Re Vaclav Smil.
Take a look at the man himself:


The 'interview' with Vaclav Smil is interesting.

From the Interview, I would not have thought he was a more of a Peakist.

You're right, we tend to rush and critisize people for an article, perhaps because so many writings today are so poorly researched, not to speak about bias...

I've followed a bit Mr. Smil and I have read some of his books. He seems to be a bit obsessed with Peak Oil Pessimists, but he is no cornucopist either.

I think his possition is that we need an energy transition, and that this can be achieved through use of markets and technology AND a more modest life style. Although I think he is too optimist about the role of EOR and technology in general he paints a picture of the challenge that I am sure all we little peakniks would endorse:

What really matters
(Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil, pags 349-352)

The first question - is the moderation of our transformation of the biosphere desirable? - is the easiest one to answer. We know enough about the true foundations of our civilization to realize that it is not imperiled by our inability to sustain high rates of economic growth for prolonged periods of time but rather by continuing degradation weakening of the biospheric foundations of their environment.


This is a matter of high concern because the existence of complex human societies depends on the incessant provision of essential and hence invaluable environmental services. What ecologists take for granted, most of the economists - transfixed by human actions, and viewing the environment
merely as a source of valuable goods -have yet to accept: no matter how complex or affluent, human societies are nothing but open subsystems of the finite biosphere, the Earth's thin veneer of life, which is ultimately run by bacteria, fungi, and green plants.


If ours were a rational society we would be paying much more anxious attention to nature's services than to Dow Jones and NASDAQ indices. Above all, we would not be destroying and damaging with such abandon the stocks of natural capital-intricate assemblages of living organisms in forests, grasslands, wetlands, fertile soils, coastal waters, or coral reefs - that produce the astounding array of environmental services. Our pursuit of high rates of economic growth has resulted in an ever larger share of the Earth's primary productivity being either harvested for human needs or affected by our actions, it has already destroyed large areas of natural ecosystems, polluted, modified much of what remains, and it keeps on impoverishing the global biodiversity that took immense energy flows and long time spans to evolve. These trends cannot continue unabated for yet another century.


As energy uses are responsible for such a large share of this worrisome anthropogenic transformation it is imperative to at least begin the process of limiting their environmental impacts in general, and the threat of unprecedented global warming in particular. Nor is the second question - is such a moderation of human impact doable? - difficult to answer. Yes, we can reduce all of these impacts while maintaining acceptable quality of life. If our actions were guided by the two greatest concerns a sapient terrestrial civilization can have - for the integrity of the biosphere and for the dignity of human life - then it would be inescapable to ask the two most fascinating questions in energy studies: what is the maximum global TPES compatible with the perpetuation of vital biospheric services, and what is the minimum per capita energy use needed for decent quality of life? These questions get asked so rarely not only because they are so extraordinarily difficult to answer but also because they compel us to adopt attitudes incompatible with the reigning economic ethos of growth and because they demand clear moral commitments.

Smil annoys me, resorting to ad hominems, rephrasing what peak oil people say, taking only the most extreme statements, and then drawing absurd conclusions lacking any actual facts himself.

First, the primary point that peak oil people are making is that we are approaching the peak of oil production and that our current civilization is completely dependent on oil at the moment. We've all noted that this doesn't mean automatically that things must fail but it does mean that an alternative source of energy as useful and convenient as oil must be found to replace oil. And guess what? So far no such energy source has come forward. Smil overlooks that one pressing fact. He overlooks that as coal production peaked, oil was present and available and the only question was how to get more of it. Right now what replaces oil? Smil has no useful answer for this.

Further, he clearly states erroneous things and lets the reader assume that he is correct. Hubbert placed no specific date on global peak but he did suggest roughly 50 years. And his paper was published in 1956. How Smil can conclude that Hubbert suggested 1993 to 2000 as the range for global oil peak escapes me unless he can provide some other reference (and note that he does NOT provide references, here or in anything else he ever writes on this topic).

Smil then makes statements like "They are convinced that exploratory drilling has already discovered some 95% of the oil originally present in the Earth's crust and that nothing we do, be it SUV replacements or new offshore drilling, can help us to avoid a bidding war for the remaining oil." Note that he totally ignores the discovery data of the last 100 years. Just ignores it completely. Discoveries peaked 43 years ago in 1963 and have been generally downhil since, with a few minor upward ticks but today discoveries are so small that we get public announcements from IOCs about how they are redeveloping existing fields because new fields are so hard to find.

Smil is locked into a particular worldview and anything that dares challenge that worldview gets attacked, emotionally, and without facts or rigorous logic. His entire article there has little to no factual basis and resorts to ad homimens, character assassination, and attempts to discredit modern scientific analysis of reserve issues with prior failed analysis. This is the "people cried wolf in the past and were wrong so they must be wrong now" school of thought. He fails entirely to actually discredit the current data and resorts to this sort of thinking which demonstrates the desperation of himself and those like him to hold onto the illusions they've created.

"We've all noted that this doesn't mean automatically that things must fail but it does mean that an alternative source of energy as useful and convenient as oil must be found to replace oil."

Where is it written that we must find a single replacement for oil?  Nowhere.  And the chances are exceedingly high that we won't find any single replacement.  We'll use some ethanol (first from starch, then from cellulose), some biodiesel, some EV's, some improved ICE technology (hybrids, clean diesels, diesel hybrids, HCCI), and a whole lot of conservation and social adjustment as we ride the downside of the Hubbert curve.

Though I may have inadvertently done so I did not mean to imply that it had to be one source of such energy. And when I look at EROEI issues, I don't see many good candidates (yet). I do think there are some potential things out there but admittedly they all need further refinement. And that's one of the unknowns - can any of them (even several together) be improved to the point that they can replace much of our oil dependence? I honestly do hope that they can but none of this is a sure thing and we've done a great deal of the simpler engineering already, leaving us with the harder work now.

Further, Smil looks at this one issue without taking it in context. This issue is not occurring in a vacuum. This issue is driven by the core problem of population versus available resources which is causing other problems and will cause yet more problems before we either solve it or it is solved for us.

Usually, any mention of Vaclav

We're a Castrophist Cult

sends my blood pressure through the roof. However, I am starting to feel pity for people like him who just can't deal with reality, who are so alarmed that we may be right here at TOD that they have to write this kind of faith-based nonsense.

There is a deep-rooted belief, formed during the Industrial Era, in Progress which never ends. This would have come as quite a surprise in, to pick a time, the 17th century. The roots of this notion lie in things like Watt's steam engine and the publication of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. Technology & Economics -- the twin miracles that make this neverending Progress possible.

[People like Vaclav Smil]who are so alarmed that we may be right here at TOD that they have to write this kind of faith-based nonsense.


I think the Vaclav's of this world want your blood to boil. They are counting on pushing your emotional triggers. Step back and take a deep breath.

Learn to enjoy the art of the rhetoric.

Smiling Smil writes:

These conclusions [by the PO cultists] are based on interpretations that lack any nuanced understanding of the human quest for energy, disregard the role of prices, ignore any historical perspectives and pre-suppose the end of human inventiveness and adaptability.

The reader who is mind melded with Smilin Smil has this deep "nuanced understanding" whereas the PO cultists totally lack this refined ability to grok the truths that are so obvious they need not be spoken. This is good stuff. He establishes an inferential "Us" versus "Them" framework without stating it outright.

Human "inventiveness and adaptability". Why that of course describes me and Smilin Smil but not them doom/gloom cultists. Why he and we are so "Human", so right while "they" are so alien and so wrong.

Once you start dissecting the man's writing style, you see that he is gifted in the art of mind manipulation.


That is an interesting point of view and humans certainly can adapt quite a bit.  It is possible that some technofix could work (biological organisms genetically altered to eat and liquify tar sands?).  But I have to stick to the facts and the plausable.  

The oil companies are not drilling like mad now because they know there is no more oil.  Who else would know better?  The high price of oil certainly gives them every reason to do so.  

Renewable energy projects are having a really tough time.  They produce small spits of energy and require large machines to even do that.  

We have a society that needs to spend Trillions on defense projects but can't invest even a few billion on future renewables.  Our weapons are now so powerful that even an accident could wipe us out (Nuclear exchange, biological release, take your pick).

The one world problem we could solve, overpopulation, we have not even begun to think about talking about it.  Just mentioning it in our society is all but impossible.    

The environment continues to be destroyed.  Dead zones are now appearing in the Gulf of Mexico and the MSM treats it as a natural occurence.  It couldn't be pollution, could it?

No, I need to see real change with real progress before I can have faith in human adaptability.  

"The one world problem we could solve, overpopulation, we have not even begun to think about talking about it.  Just mentioning it in our society is all but impossible.    

The environment continues to be destroyed.  Dead zones are now appearing in the Gulf of Mexico and the MSM treats it as a natural occurence.  It couldn't be pollution, could it?"

I agree that the number one problem is over-population! Figure out an acceptable way to cut the worlds population by 2/3 over the next 10 years and all of the rest of the problems mostly go away - Peak Oil, Water shortages, global warming, etc.....  BUT, I have no idea how to accomplish such a solution. Maybe some of you might have some ideas of how to do it?

As to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the problem is NOT the excess nutrients in the Mississippi River. Any 10 year old who has had an aquarium can tell you what the problem is. The problem is lack of oxygen! For a minor fraction of what 1 "Government Study" of the problem would cost you could rent 4 diesel air compressors and place them on boats or barges and place them in the flow of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. Attach hoses that will reach the bottom and large bubblers like those in an aquarium to the hoses. Run the comressors 24/7 for 4 to 8 weeks and measure the oxygen level in the areas of the Dead Zone to calculate how many oxygenation stations would be needed to eliminate the Dead Zone. The permanent air compressors would be wind powered (lots of wind in the GoM). Seeing as how it will be the Gulf fishermen that will be reaping the bonanza harvests from the highly oxygenated water with high levels of nutrients (free curteous of the midwest farmers), I suggest that they should be the ones to pay for the wind oxygenators. (Midwest farmers have to pay for their land, equipment, seed, fertilizer, vet bills, etc..... and gulf fishermen only pay for their boat as of now)
Anyone want to bet that no-one will take the time to try it? Too cheap and simple for the big spenders in DC or Gulf Coast state governments. Sigh ------

the lack of oxygen is caused by excess nutrients.  the fertilizers (nutrients) that runoff into the mississippi/GOM cause algae blooms that suck up the oxygen.  if you don't stop dumping nitrogen based fertilizers on depleted topsoil you aren't solving the problem, you're treating the symptom.  
Couldn't we harvest those algae blooms for biofuel. All we need are nets with very small holes.
i hope you are joking (seriously i do).  this idea is equivalent to taking corn and turning it into ethanol/biodiesel.  basically, rape the soil (or aquatic habitat), produce a monoculture that kills everything else off at its expense, and then turn it into fuel to keep our consumptive ways chugging along.  we need to be moving back into equilibrium with nature, not forcing the system farther out of balance.  

nets with very small holes, haha, yes u must be joking.  

One related post, I did the following analysis of the 14 top oil exporting nations.  Comments & critiques are welcome (I am weak on Iran, UAE, Algeria, Libya).

Oil importers do not buy oil from oil producers such as Brazil or the UK but from oil exporters. Internal demand gets served first before oil is exported. Below is the table of largest world oil exporters in 2004.

Volume is 2004 exports in million barrels/day.

1) Saudi Arabia 8.73 Million b/day exports - Trillion (or more) dollar question. Massive increase in drilling (half of US gulf rigs going there). No sign of increased production to break prices (as SA has done on occasion in the past).

Once Saudi Armaco source predicted 2% annual declines (-8% natural decline + new drilling = -2%), but higher ups claim current excess production capability with an extra 1.5 to 2 million b/day to come. Others see -5% to -8% annual declines despite more drilling and current production is all they can produce.  Domestic demand growing by ~100,000 barrels/day/year.

2)Russia 6.67 million b/day exports - Officals have stated that exports will drop significantly in next three years. Production +2.7% in 2007, +1% in 2008 & 2009, ? in 2010, declines after that. BUT domestic demand growth will "eat" the +2.7% 2007 increase and more.

3)Norway 2.91 million b/day exports - Production declines of -8% 2005 vs. 2004, -10% 2006 vd. 2005. Declines every year in the future

4)Iran 2.55 million b/day exports - Down dramatically from Shah, recent trends are up & down

5)Venezuela 2.36 exports - Political driven drop, current levels seem difficult to sustain (V bought 100,000 b/day from Russia for 6 months recently to meet contracts). Massive VERY heavy oil/asphalt reserves, minimal investment to extract

6) United Arab Emirates 2.33 - May increase production

7)Kuwait 2.20 - Recently acknowledged decline in field that produced 2 million b/day is down to 1.9 million and heading towards 1.75 million
~2008. Claims new fields will = declines

8) Nigeria 2.19 - MASSIVE internal problems/war, 800,000 b/day shut
in. New development supposed to balance natural declines

9) Mexico 1.80 - Massive offshore field that produced 2 million b/day in 2004 offically scheduled to decline by 14% annually from 2006.

Leaked Pemex study showed range from 14% to 40% annual  declines. Nearby small heavy oil field to be exploited by 2009. Offshore discovery discredited, but heavy oil field found in 1920s (many small pockets of gunk) was producing 29,000 b/day, Pemex plans to expand production dramatically from this old field.

  1. Algeria 1.68 - Realistic plans to expand production by several hundred thousand b/day

  2. Iraq 1.48 - ???? Recent production declines but the near future is unknownable

  3. Libya 1.34 - Realistic plans to expand production by several hundred thousand b/day

  4. Kazakhstan 1.06 - Last two really big fields found in world found here (2000 & 1988 from memory) Easily another million b/day once pipelines, etc. built.

  5. Qatar 1.02 - Apparently stable but older fields, but puzzling stop to development in late 2005 after ConocoPhilips drilling on edge of field found dry holes

The UK is becoming a major oil importer again, as their North Sea wells dry up and demand increases.

The US has, in rough #s, a -$800 billion annual trade deficit. -$300 for oil, -$200 billion with China, -$300 billion with everyone else (EU about -$120 billion of the -$300 billion).

The US plans to massively increase our liquified Natural gas imports in the next years.


My personal position is that the future is unknowable,and that it is up to every individual to act in a responsible manner and to do the best that we can to help others. But that has little to do with the evidence that the era of light, sweet, crude, easily extracted and easily processed,is at an end. Note about Jamaica's cornucopian article-consider the source. It's a KPMG newsletter. KPMG is a public accounting firm and we all know what whores public accountants are. They get there revenues from the Corporatocracy and will print nothing to disturb the status quo.I believe thet KPMG audits Exxon.
  Second, the figures are fuzzy. The author starts out talking about light, sweet crude and ends up treating natural gas and tar sands/oil shale ect. as if they were additions to crude reserves.
  Third, no mention of the environmental costs. These costs will accelerate with processing tar, ect. because it takes so much more energy to make it useful.
  Fourth, and possibly most important, no mention of the hue increase in demand because of the huge population increases in the world and the rapid evolution that is just beginning of the peoples of China, India, Indonesia, Pakisan, rural Turkey and Latin America. If the 600 million people in the developed world used up the bulk of the cheap light crude in 100 years, then 3 billion people (China + India + developed world) are going to use up what is left on a very accelerated schedule.
   The indomitable human spirit did not save the Mayans, the Mexicans, the Incas from collapse and invasion,or all asia and most of the middle east from the Mongols and the Black Death.And I betcha there were plenty of Polliannas in the bunch.
"The indomitable human spirit did not save the Mayans, the Mexicans, the Incas from collapse and invasion,or all asia and most of the middle east.."

I'm sure it actually DID save these civ's, again and again.. until it didn't.  They all had their great generations, their close calls, their finest hours..  who's to say which this is to be for us?

Plague, Black Death..  can't talk to those.  I think you're off topic.

I probably am when I mix a subjective view with a critique ofa conucopian view. But as a human I am always tied to a subjective view,shown by the choice of questions that I read abot and think about.My point was, and remains, that cheerful thinking does nothing to help the situation. And that any article deserves analyses by whose interests are being served as well as its basic assumptions and that these assumptions have much to do with choicesof what to examine and weighting of evidence.
   I personally am a main stream protestant christian, and believe that we are stewards of the earth and not owners. I'm sure that this influences my postings and views. But, I'm not such a fool as to deny this and immediately discount other's views. I want to read them and critique them, because as a middleaged guy who has done some self examination I know I am often wrong, although seldom unsure.  
I was just being cute when I said the Plague was 'off-topic'.. since I didn't have much to offer as far as the optimists saving the day against the black death..  I sure hope we're not up against that.

I appreciate your candor.

I do think that there has been a disconnect about what constitutes optimism in this digest today.  When you say 'Cheerful Thinking', I have to imagine that you mean some kind of 'Forced Cheer for its own sake'.  But when I think of tackling a problem, the more insurmountable the better, I am energized by the need to look at the obstacles, look at our tools, look at the junkpiles, think about old techniques, new combinations,  etc..  I don't know if we'll pull it off, or what it will look like, or how we'll be living on the other side of this challenge, but I don't think I'm a so-called cornucopian, and I do think that we have tools and materials that we can use to address this.  We have all sorts of ways of using energy more efficiently that we don't employ, we certainly can find ways of living with far less than we consume in the US, and part of the excitement of this, is that we've known for a long time that there are great problems with this High Protien universe we've been growing too used to, and that this is a chance to make a break from some of that.  I appreciated the position that Lou Grinzo stated a few days back, with the engineers from Apollo 13 saying 'You're telling me what you want, I'm telling you what we've got'..

The optimist says it's half full,
The pessimist that it's half empty..
The Engineer will tell you that your glass is twice the size it needs to be..

Cheerfully, in spite of myself..
Bob Fiske

This will be the "Peak Oil Awareness Outreach" post for me.

I am a member of an 800 member discussion group on commerical aviation orders (in good standing and generally respected).  Quite a few professionals read this group and many post as well (Rolls Royce program manager, fleet & route planner at Qantas, China salesperson for Boeing, active & retired engineers in the field).  A more influential group than most.  VERY fact based.

I would like to make sure that I have my facts straight before posting this analysis there.


Good summary piece, Alan. You might want to note that we can probably expect Saudi production to go up by 1 mbd when they get the Manifa refinery on line.  I think (but haven't checked back) that this won't happen until 2009, and is part of the increase that they anticipate will get them to 12 mbd.  But there was another comment about a month ago (and again while I posted on it I can't remember when) that the Saudi's have noted that they can only sustain 10.8 mbd (which would be current production + Manifa + the extension planned down in Shaybah).  However as they are now installing smart wells in Abqaiq to control water cut they may, short term, be able to get above that - but accelerating depletion rates on the back end of the curve for the older fields such as upper Ghawar, Berri, Safaniya and Abqaiq only accelerates the day when we start to see a more dramatic drop.
Wasn't the CP dry hole in Qatar and the moratorium on new development for the North Field natural gas, rather than oil? Or were there more dry holes that didn't get as much press?
AFAIK, much of Qatar's oil production is actually NGL produced in association with their massive natural gas production.
Ok, I'll bite...what is AFAIK?
AFAIK = As Far As I Know, a caveat that I am not completely sure about the information, but it seems reasonable.

AFAIK, Britney Spears is a bit flaky

AFAIK, GW Bush will be judged by history as one of the worst half dozen US Presidents.  LBJ & Grant already members of the club.

AFAIK, Photovoltiac panels leveled off in price for the last two years, but will be cheaper in 2008 than today.

AFAIK, neither Democrats or Republicans plan to mention Peak Oil in the 2006 election campaign.

This is offtopic: but I'm sorry but I think LBJ gets more mixed reviews that to be lumped in with the Dirty Dozen. Tell  African American people, among others, who live with the Civil Rights Act and the elderly and poor who have health insurance how appalling LBJ was, see how they react - if they know their history. No question that LBJ political means were appalling at times.

 No quesiton about George II.  I might add that the rear view mirror may view Nixon more favorably that his successors with the exception of Ford?, Carter, Bush I, and Clinton. Was it Gore Vidal who called Nixon the last President with a Christian conscience?  Something to consider.

Thanks AFBE,

AFAIK; excellent...thank you for enlightening me.

I am pretty good at TLA's but I haven't been "task-trained" on FLA's.

The National Post article by Vaclav Smil (15 June 06) is the same one he published in Worldwatch last January (written 15 Dec 05):
Title: Peak Oil: A Catastrophist Cult and Complex Realities ,  By: Smil, Vaclav, World Watch, 08960615, Jan/Feb2006, Vol. 19, Issue 1.
Maybe it would be interesting to plot:
  • depletion rate (annual production as a percentage of what is left)
  • decline rate (annual change as a percentage of the preceeding year)
  • second order decline rate (decline rate(2005) - decline rate (2004))
As I look at the Saudi and Russian figures and read the commentary that Saudi Arabia has hit a plateau, I'm struck by one thought:

Could it be that the Saudis are purposely limiting production as they notice the increase in Russian production in an effort to keep the market price higher than supply/demand would otherwise dictate?

It seems like Russia's meteoric rise on these charts would dictate a simple response from the Saudis who don't have much control over Russian production: slow down or decrease producction to avoid a glut of petroleum on the market.

Or, am I being too simplistic in my analysis?

How about plotting the gainers and losers on a single graph?  That could be a very intersting thing to show to show to people,  because it would clearly demonstrate out tenuous our situation is (and how thoroughly dependent we are on Russia).
I've done so in the past, but it doesn't fit very well.
Here's what Jeremy Leggett had to say about the BP statistical review regarding reserves numbers in What they don't want you to know about the coming oil crisis.
Against this unpromising start, how much oil do we think the oil companies have found to date? Call BP for a bit of help with the answer and you'll be sent their annual BP Statistical Review of World Energy. In it, you'll see lists of data for national proven oil reserves. Add these up to a global total of oil reserves year by year, and you'll see the total creep reassuringly upwards over time. The chart on page seven shows those figures, from successive annual reviews split into the Middle East and the rest of the world. Global reserves rise from just over 600 billion barrels in 1970 to almost double that today: 1,147 billion barrels at the last count, up to and including 2003.

So what's the problem? The first hint that something might be amiss comes, as is so often the case in life, in the small print. Squinting through a lens if you have anything but perfect eyesight, you will find that the data in BP's own report are not BP's at all. The estimates have been compiled using "a variety of primary official sources, third-party data from the Opec Secretariat", and a few other places completely removed from BP's headquarters in St James's Square with all its accumulated research and knowledge. Think how many libraries of understanding BP must have gathered in over a century of aggressive oil exploration and production all over the world. And yet all they offer us as a guide to our own understanding of how much "proved" oil reserves there are left on the planet is a compilation of other people's data. And much of that itself is secondhand.

After this revelation comes another. The small print continues: "The reserves figures shown do not necessarily meet the United States Securities and Exchange Commission definitions and guidelines for determining proved reserves, nor necessarily represent BP's view of proved reserves by country."

They don't even believe the figures they are publishing! Referee! ....

And there's more, I recommend reading the whole article. Beyond the reserves numbers, I started to wonder about the production numbers. I got started on this when I saw that China's production was up 4.2% to 3.627/mbpd, an additional 146/kbd over 2004. How did they do that, I wondered.

Chinese Oil Production (EIA)
Click to Enlarge

I could get an additional 45 to 50/kbd from Bohai Bay. I'm still looking for the rest. As some of you know, some of China's fields are old and depleting rapidly. Yet, we see this increase.

A spot check of EIA's table 4.1b (from www.eia.doe.gov/ipm/) gives Chinese production as 3,485kb/d for 04 and 3,609 kb/d for 05, for an increase of 124kb/d.  This seems in fairly decent agreement with BP's numbers.
That seems to be BPs practice...

Russian, Iranian oil reserves offset falls



BP's estimates of global proven oil reserves include some oil sands deposits and don't necessarily match the criteria used by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for proven reserves. The statistical review is compiled using official government data and published reports, BP said.
I am wondering if there is any production data by grade (light and sweet, light and sour etc. globally). The paradox of high crude prices and claims of sluggish demand, refineries running well under capacity and so and, could be explained by the Peak Light and Sweet Oil. Unexpected decline in light crude production with most of the new production being heavier and sour would cause just this kind of a situation. Rapidly changing shares of different grades would cause refining problems - changing or adding refinery capacity takes a lot of time.

We know that North Sea is mostly very good light and sweet - and in rapid decline. Russia has been adding production significantly - but crude there is not quite light. The quality of the crude is definitely down. This is not a new idea here, but may be a bit underexplored.  

I haven't been able to find any good production data by grade.
There are usually some information on the grade of crude in newly developed fields. It could be possible to take a sample, may be the 5 biggest advancers and decliners and compare their average grades, so to gain insight to the trend here. My guess is that the new production has on the average worse API and more sulphur as those older fields.

There is information available, but it costs (http://www.petrotechintel.com/pti/cims.html).

The increases in Chinese production have come from a few offshore fields, but primarily from the far Western fields of Karamay, Hami, Turfan, Qinghai, and Shaan-Gan-Ning.

The old eastern fields continue in decline.

I expect this or next year to be China's peak production year.

Interesting that the US of A is the biggest decliner in recent years. Presumably this is in part due to the hurricanes.

I seem to recall that the EIA has been predicting that the US would actually increase production in 2006 over 2005, and possibly in 2007 over 2006. Some of this is due to recovery from hurricane damage (I guess they are assuming no repeats of Katrina, Rita et al). It will be pretty impressive if the US moves from being the king of the losers to one of the gainers over the next couple of years.

I'm posting this in response to both your comment and the one from GreenEngineer above. It is a different version of another chart I posted a few days ago. This one covers only the last 15 months versus 4 years for the previous version.

You are correct about the US, although the effect is more pronounced here in the short term. GreenEngineer also makes a good point about Russia.

Everything below zero on this graph, is in effect the oil production that has not changed. What the graph shows is oil production that has been fluctuating. This data is for crude oil+lease condensate only, so it shows the top 6 million barrels per day out of 74 million barrels per day of total global production. It is not the Total Liquids data of 85 mbpd as per our discussion of a few days ago.

The thinnest point on each country's "area" represents 100,000 barrels a day of production. I got this by creating a baseline for every country in the world by taking its lowest production point in the last 15 months and then subtracting 100,000 barrels. The one exception to this here is Saudi Arabia. There is credible evidence to suggest that their production has been lowered to 9.1 million barrels per day recently, so I set their baseline to 9.0 million barrels.

The order in which I have "stacked" the countries is an effort to make the peaks and valleys flatten each other out starting from the bottom, to allow the viewer to see the real effect of increases and decreases on the total.

Notice the large increase of "The Rest of the World." We often overlook that.

Marginal Oil Production 2005 - 2006

The 4-year version is available here:

What is Iran trying to say here?

Iran 'will not bow to pressure'

Oil less important

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran would continue to enrich uranium, as one of its prominent scientific objectives.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will not succumb to these pressures and it considers the continuation [of its nuclear programme] a main objective," he was quoted as saying.

Nuclear energy was more important to Iran than extraction of oil, he added. Oil makes up 80% of Iran's foreign exchange earnings.

Here's a picture of the Angry Santa...

Nuclear energy was more important to Iran than extraction of oil, he added. Oil makes up 80% of Iran's foreign exchange earnings.

WTF?  Are you kidding me? They would give up 80% of their earnings just to have Nuclear energy?

Obviously if one thing is more important than the other, you would give the less important one up if asked to choose right?


Well, if he thinks the oil is running out and nuclear is this magic fountain that flows forever it might make sense.

Or, for rhetorical effect, someone in a position as stressed as his might say most anything, and different things to different audiences.

You're dead on... that was the subtle point I was trying to make.  


1.)  He's a Nut and just makes comments for the sake of making them
2.)  He's a Nut and is running out of oil and really wants Nuclear power
3.)  He's a Nut and is running out of oil and really wants Nuclear power and weapons

Did I miss anything?

Oh and he's not bringing you any toys this year!


I don't think he's a nut. In a recent speech he made very clear that Iran wanted energy-independence, and the nuclear programme is essential in this pursuit. While it's ludicrous to suggest it's more important than oil (in the near future at least), I would think this is just rhetoric whose main purpose is to gain domestic support - which already is very solid - for the nuclear programme.

It seems to me Iran is actually playing its cards pretty well right now, provided the US doesn´t attack it soon... But they don´t appear to be doing anything that would suggest they were nutters.  

I guess extraction of oil didn't do much for Iraq.