Depletion estimates and the CGES

Courtesy of Dave and Matt Simmons I learned that the Center for Global Energy Studies (CGES) has just released a report on Oil's Depletion Rate (pdf file). Since this is the basic concern that underlies a considerable portion of the current debate about Peak Oil, and figures being quoted for depletion vary from 2% to 14%, depending on which field, and which period one is discussing, I looked for some enlightenment in their conclusions.

I learned, to begin with that

Although it seems straightforward, depletion as a concept is not easy to pin down. The very use of the word "depletion" in this context - synonymous as it is with exhaustion - implies that oil resources are being run down and that one day they will dwindle into insignificance. Oil resources may well become insignificant in the years to come, but it is not certain whether this will be due to their physical exhaustion or to the world moving away from oil and towards another source of energy.
Unfortunately, this suggests, as does the tone of much of the article that follows, that being concerned about oil supplies, largely from the point of the reserve available, is a pointless worry. I say unfortunately because this cornucopian view of the world of oil glosses over the changing situation in the world and conceals some of the assumptions that it makes, by hiding them within the overbounding simplification of its argument.
Let me explain a little what I mean by that, and to help I am going to use some of the numbers and arguments that Jean Laherrere presented at the Lisbon Peak Oil meeting, where he discussed the relationships between discoveries and production. To begin with the article looks at the issue from a global point of view, rather than on the basis of individual fields. And so let me begin by accepting, for the sake of making this point only, that the world current proven reserve of crude oil (tar sands excluded) at the beginning of last year amounted to 1,109 billion barrels and that the industry extracted 26.38 billion barrels of oil over the course of the year. If no other oil was ever discovered, and that reserve was the total available, then the amount of oil in the ground depleted last year by 26.38/1109 = 2.38%. And if the oil could continue to be produced at the current rate, then the world would run out of oil in 42 years.

However each year drilling crews go out and find new oil fields, from which, in time, megaprojects and smaller projects develop. Because the development of those projects takes time, and the world is small enough now that we hear of the developments soon after they start, so folk such as the Oil and Gas Journal, Chris Skrebowski and CERA can all look at those numbers and project production over the next decade or so. In terms of those additions to the world inventory there has been a general concern, in recent years, that new field discoveries have not kept up with the amount of oil that is being produced.

However reserve growth does not just come from finding new fields, it also comes from a reappraisal of how much oil is in a given field. When I wrote about Abqaiq the other day, I opened by saying that as the field developed, so the size grew. That is not uncommon. Particularly with older fields the initial discoveries did not fully realize the size of the field, and as wells were drilled out from the initial discovery so the size of the field could be more accurately defined, and in those days that usually meant that it got bigger.

However today's sophisticated equipment allows a much better judgment of the potential size of the field before much drilling has occurred. Those initial estimates are often made before drilling has fully outlined the field, but can lead to overly optimistic predictions. These subsequently meet the reality of borehole data, and the initial well touted estimates have then, often less publicly, to be reduced. And unfortunately, we saw this recently with the announcement of the Mexican new discovery political frenzy can obscure subsequent fact and the original field size estimate of 10 billion barrels was subsequently significantly reduced without nearly as much public attention.

A significant amount of information on oil reserves comes from the prognostications of the company IHS about whom Jean Laherrere wrote

In the past there was only one worldwide source of field reserves, being Petroconsultants funded by a geologist (bought by IHS in 1999). Now IHS, who bought recently CERA, has lost its geological background and uses more and more political data. A new competitor Wood Mackenzie (WM), which uses more economical and technical data than IHS, is completing its country database and can be compared. The difference is very large, higher worldwide than the undiscovered estimate.
and then, writing about UK reserves he notes
It is however surprising to obtain divergent data from the two scout sources IHS and WM when reserves data are provided by DTI, because past annual field production allows estimating directly the field reserve. WM, which reports technical values, is in line with DTI when IHS reports every discovery even if completely uneconomical.
Why is there a discrepancy, and what does this portent in relation to the amount of oil we get from the ground.

Well unfortunately, as the Mexican example shows, just finding some oil in the ground does not mean either that the oil extends completely and consistently through the rock formation that seismic surveying indicated was there, but equally critically, even if the oil is there the question as to how much of it one can get out remains. As I pointed out in my example with Abqaiq, just because there was 31 billion barrels of oil in that oilfield, did not promise that amount could be recovered. If it ends up that about 11.2 billion barrels are produced (going from the Aramco opinion that the field has produced 73% of its oil at the start of 2004) then the recovery factor for the field will be about 36% of the original oil in place. But this is where the rub comes.

Suppose I state that the recovery factor won't be 36%, but rather 60%. Then the amount of oil that started out as the reserve number would be 18.6 billion barrels, and if the field has produced 8.2 billion then there is still a reserve of 10 billion available. Or let me suggest that technology is moving on, we now have horizontal wells (the purported saviors-to-be of Cantarell production), multiphase pumps, maximum reservoir contact laterals, etc. And so I gaze into my crystal ball and state that Abqaiq recovery factor has now increased to 72%. Well that means we can get 22 billion barrels from the field, and the field - at 8.2 bd produced - is only 37% depleted relative to its ultimate production.

Note that I haven't changed any of the geology, or put any more oil into the ground, but by just changing my numbers (which might have come perhaps from the blonde at the chemin-de-fer table in the Casino Royale at Monte Carlo) I have suddenly created more oil than even Aramco thinks that they can get out of the Abqaiq field, by more than 11 billion barrels.

And this is a significant problem with the CEGS report. By blandly mixing these changing estimates of reserves in with new discoveries one can (without having to explain the tenuousness of the assumptions behind the reserve growth) announce that the world is finding more oil each year than it is producing, and so we don't need to worry.

Unfortunately this is not true. I will confess to one slight manipulation, in fact the IHS numbers for Abqaiq were at 72% in 2004, as the field got closer to exhaustion they have since dropped the RF to 60% in 2005. That, however, was the only field in KSA that they reduced, for the remaining 11 major fields IHS increased their predictions of recovery factor to the following percentages in 2005 (the 2004 estimate is in parentheses):

Ghawar 70%(60%)
Safaniya 69% (54%)
Shaybah 70% (68%)
Manifa 70% (52%)
Zuluf 62% (43%)
Berri 59% (40%)
Khurais 47% (24%)
Marjan 67% (35%)
Qatif 50% (45%)
Abu Sa'fah 52% (52%)
Khursaniyah 55% (55%)

And by that simple change in estimate lo we have increased reserves, in one year, by 80 billion barrels of oil. (Source JL's article cited above). As it happened WM, who had looked at the same fields estimated an increase of 48 billion barrels by a similar shift between 2004 and 2005, but was still some 111 billion barrels less in ultimate recovery estimates for the KSA fields than IHS.

As Dave said in quoting Greg Croft

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

He also pointed out that
Only one supergiant (>5 billion barrels recoverable) field has been found since 1980.
That field (Kashagan) is located on a geologic structure that was identified prior to 1980, but was not drilled until 2000 because of sea ice conditions.
The prospects for finding any more are limited, and mostly in the Arctic offshore.

There is still a lot of oil to find, but as fields get smaller, they also produce less individually, so that more must be found, and produced, each year. That is why I am more concerned with production rates than I am with the amount that will ultimately be recovered from a reservoir. After all, if we get that desperate, we can sink a mine and mine the entire deposit - just as they are doing at the surface in Canada today.

(Um, and before you write, no I am not advocating that, but it is an indicator that the use of a Recovery Factor is largely a guess at the moment and does not anticipate how desperate we might get for oil in the future. )

The field by field analysis of what production will look like over the next decade, with some logical explanation as to why the numbers are what they are tells us a considerable amount about what the real situation is going to be within that time frame. However one must also recognize that, as with Abqaiq, as a field gets closer to exhaustion it gets clearer how much can currently be recovered, and, as I noted the other day, in that case the recovery factor was lowered rather than raised.

Making simplistic statements that hide in some pseudo-mathematical approach, unexplained assumptions about critical factors such as RF changes, does no-one any good. And thus one comes away from the CGES report no more enlightened than before. Pity, really.

Oh, and to show where I got the 73% number from for the status of the Abqaiq field (given that we have now had two more years production for a total additional volume removal of around 386,900,000 barrels) the source was the Aramco presentation at CSIS (pdf file) and the image is

I can't believe that last graph. The company exploiting the largest reserves on earth  (presumably) adds percentages to get to an average, tsssssssssssss........
If memory serves, the Original Oil In Place (OOIP) for Ghawar was about 170 Gb.  

According to Matt Simmons, a retired Aramco executive said that Ghawar would never make more than 70 Gb (41% recovery).  Matt also said that the world record recovery factor for this type of reservoir was 45%.   I think that Ghawar is getting close to 60 Gb (35% of OOIP).  

Note that depletion starts when the first barrel is produced and it never stops until the last barrel is produced.  During this time period, a field can show rising production, stable production or falling production (some rate of decline), but regardless of whether production is increasing, flat or declining, depletion marches on.

Note that Shell was expanding their surface facilities at Yibal (same reservoir as Ghawar, also redeveloped with horizontal wells , just like Ghawar) to handle a projected increase in production, when the field started declining sharply, as the water hit the horizontal wells.   If memory serves, the final decline at Yibal hit when the field had produced about 35% of OOIP.

Westexas said

> Note that Shell was expanding their surface facilities at Yibal
> (same reservoir as Ghawar, also redeveloped with horizontal wells,
> just like Ghawar)

Same reservoir? Not according to this

  • Yibal - Shuiba fomation (Cretaceous)
  • Ghawar - Arab D formation (Jurassic)

Plus I doubt whether Ghawar had many horizontal wells when it was producing 5.7 MMb/d in 1981 (which was apparently its all-time high, but that number came from Googling around randomly, so your estimate of Ghawar peak may vary).

Sorry to be so curt but gotta rush... later...


The story around reserves has always bothered me.  It doesn't add up.  IMHO, even non-OPEC reserve estimates are highly suspect.  

Stuart had a post about reserves a while back (  Supposedly non-OPEC reserves have grown from ~240 GB in 1990 to ~300 GB in 2004.  This is despite the facts that a) over that period non-OPEC production was ~220 GB, and b)discovery rates are below production levels.

How can this be?  The usual explanations for reserve growth (besides new discoveries) are price and technology.  But the sense I get from TOD is that technology (like max. reservoir contact wells) tends to sustain higher production rates, but not to enhance overall recovery.  And from the early-90's to around 2001 or so, the price of oil stayed relatively low (~$20/barrel).  How is it possible that reserves didn't drop significantly, let alone increase?  Am I missing something?

The South will rise again

Hadn't seen this posted...

The Southern States Energy Board (SSEB), comprised of governors and state legislators from 16 southern states and two territories,  released a study (July 2006) advocating elimination of US oil imports by 2030.  

The plan? CTL, oil shale, biomass, enhanced oil recovery and transportation efficiency (which in 'merica only means cars - sorry Alan).

Quick take: dawning realization that there's a problem across the geopolitical spectrum. Still strong belief that the "American way of life is non-negotiable."

Here in the South especially, the American way of life is non-negotiable. They will fight to the death to keep their pickups, SUVs, herds of beef cattle, and so on.

Which is what really worries me.

This is ultimately self-correcting. One can refuse to negotiate with people, companies, or governments for a time.

But nature negotiates with nobody, and that is the ultimate non-negotiation. Paper covers stone, and geology trumps economics.

That's ok, in the end, no one negotiates with mother earth anyway. The physical realities aren't negotiable. They're fooling themselves if they thought they were calling the shots (or even sitting at the table) in the first place.
no no, we've been at the table. check the co2 level.
We can mess with her, but she gets the last laugh.
Quick! Which state has the most wind power in the US? It's Texas.

Stereotypes are oh so useful for obscuring the truth.

The amount of new wind power added in Texas in the last 2 to 3 years in incredible.  As one example, the drive west from Abilene to Sweetwater and then south through the small town of Winters is mind-boggling.  Wind towers in every direction to the horizon.  Awesome sight.   More fields are planned north and east of Lubbock near the community of Silverton.
These emissions are in our name. The rest of the country enjoys the hydrocarbons and related products texas produces, while texas suffers from the pollution. What a deal.
Similarly, the rest of world produces most of our hudrocarbons and, probably, other goods, and suffers the related pollution. Non-producing states never had it so good.
Robert Hirsch briefed this group last year.
I asked a while back if the surging price of oil over the last two or three years would lead to an increase in reserves. Dave said 'not really', but I don't understand why not.

If URR is the amount economically extractible with today's technology, it seems logical that it should be possible to suck harder on the straw or accept higher water cuts when the price of oil doubles. I suppose this assumes that the industry actually incorporates the doubled price into its plans.

Is it the case, then, that the URR is limited more by today's technology than yesterday's price? Put another way, does the oil pumped diminish so quickly as URR is approached that rising price doesn't provide access to a meaningfully increased amount?  

"Is it the case, then, that the URR is limited more by today's technology than yesterday's price? Put another way, does the oil pumped diminish so quickly as URR is approached that rising price doesn't provide access to a meaningfully increased amount?"

The Lower 48 and the North Sea both peaked at about 50% of Qt, based on the HL method.  The Lower 48 peaked in 1970, the North Sea, in 1999--29 years apart.  Note that despite better technology, the North Sea peaked at the same stage of depletion as the Lower 48.  

Also, in the Lower 48, we have tried primary, secondary and tertiary recovery techniques, combined with horizontal drilling and 3D seismic, etc.  

Can we make money, find new fields and increase the recovery from existing fields in the Lower 48?  Yes.  Will it help?  Yes.  Will it make any kind of real difference? No.  

Hi Westexas,

I understand.  As Simmons points out, (and some posters mention below), reserves estimates may turn out to be correct but do not necessarily say anything about the peak in production.  Rather, it merely impacts the tail of the production curve.

Still, I'm baffled by the reserve estimates themselves.  OPEC is a special case, but even non-OPEC reserve estimates make no sense.  Michael Lynch uses this argument a lot, that reserves are constantly being revised upwards.  This is correct, the non-OPEC reserve estimates have increased, even in the last 5 years.  

But how can this be, given the record non-OPEC production levels (~80 GB over the last 5 years) and falling discovery rate?  What kind of justifications are given for the upward revisions?  These look like paper barrels to me.

You can tell that the OPEC guys are lying (if their lips are moving).

When you look at a production rate versus time graph, if you integrate the area under the curve, you get URR, or Deffeyes' Qt.

The question is, what is the area under the curve, especially when the graph shows primarily rising production with time?  

There are a lot of engineering terms--proven, proven undeveloped, probable, possible, etc.  The USGS uses some very optimistic methods to get their reserve estimates, and I recall that someone at Saudi Aramco suggested at one time that they were using USGS estimates.

However, I prefer the Hubbert Linearization (HL) method to estimate Qt for large producing regions and for the world.

Using the HL method, if we have a enough production history, we have been able to demonstrate pretty accurate results.   I would especially point to the Lower 48 case history, where Khebab took the production data through 1970, to generate a post 1970 predicted production profile.  The post-1970 cumulative Lower 48 production was 99% of what the HL model predicted.

We have consumed about 1,000 Gb of crude + condensate, and Deffeyes estimates that the world has about 1,000 Gb of conventional crude + condensate left.   IMO, the only areas left that could really change this estimate would be the north and south polar regions.  

In any case, as predicted by Deffeyes, world oil production has been falling since December, and as Khebab and I predicted, production by the top oil exporters has been falling faster than world oil production is falling.  

I really can't think of a time when Yergin and/or Lynch have been right.

I can point to multiple examples of the HL method being correct, especially for large producing regions.

Take your pick.

There is still a lot of oil to find, but as fields get smaller, they also produce less individually, so that more must be found, and produced, each year. That is why I am more concerned with production rates than I am with the amount that will ultimately be recovered from a reservoir...

I am in agreement with this statement. It matters much less to the world whether it is two trillion bbls or four which is ultimately recovered than it does whether the rate of production in ten years time is 105 mb/d or 65 mb/d. The former is of passing interest, the latter is of profound significance.

It is my opinion that our ability to extract oil from the earth at ever greater rates is geologically bound right now. The world is producing pretty much flat out. If things go wrong, which they have a tendency to do from time to time this will further impede production.

As producing oilfields become smaller and more remote the EROEI will become less and less. Many of the methods which are employed in depleted fields here in the US will not be viable in many areas. Thus the rate at which we are producing in the short-term could be negatively affected. This does not mean that at some point this oil will not be recovered, it merely means that production declines in the near term could be more substantial than is currently believed to be the case in some circles.

And not only is it a question of depletion, but also of the economic production from an oil field. Most any well will continue to produce a few barrels a day forever, but a two or three barrel per day well requires probably more engineering expertise to produce as a two or three hundred barrel a day well, plus just as much accounting and more cost per barrel for gathering the oil and water disposal.
  The greatest field of the lower 48 was the East Texas Field. It still  produces, but with a 99% water cut. Over 50% of the original oil in place is still there, but it is almost uneconomic because of the high water cut and the age of the equipment.
   In most of the world the smaller independents can't operate, and the Majors have too high an overhead to make a profit on economicially depleted fields. I suspect we will be producing oil a very long time, but at levels that can't sustain our society and costs that are prohibitive for our lifestyle. Reserves in place are nice, but it is cheap oil that we are running out of rapidly.
"I suspect we will be producing oil a very long time, but at levels that can't sustain our society and costs that are prohibitive for our lifestyle."

Yes, we'll be pumping oil for a long time, no argument there.

But the notion that declining production necessarily means prohibitive costs contains one whale of an assumption--that in the future our lifestyle will be as dependent on oil as it is now.  That's where I think the major changes will come--in finding much more oil-efficient ways to do things, especially fuel our transportation.

You missed the bit about "the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stone".

What exactly, in your view, is going to replace oil so that we can sustain our society?

Why do you assume that we need oil to sustain our society?    Our level of consumption, yes with that I agree, and I eagerly wait for consumption to drop.  Our society needs food, clothing, housing, transportation, water.  How much of each.  Less.  How much energy does it take.  Not much.  Our society also needs a lot more conversation. That's pretty likely. People love to talk about the change in the weather.
wind and solar for electrical transportation, biomass for chemical feedstock.
Particularly with older fields the initial discoveries did not fully realize the size of the field, and as wells were drilled out from the initial discovery so the size of the field could be more accurately defined, and in those days that usually meant that it got bigger.

However today's sophisticated equipment allows a much better judgment of the potential size of the field before much drilling has occurred. Those initial estimates are often made before drilling has fully outlined the field, but can lead to overly optimistic predictions. These subsequently meet the reality of borehole data, and the initial well touted estimates have then, often less publicly, to be reduced.

Michael Lynch has one complaint about Colin Campbell that I have always thought was actually a fair criticism.  He says that Campbell complains about the lack of back dating when reserves growth occurs for an old oil discovery but doesn't recognize that today's discoveries will also experience reserve growth in the future.  In other words, even if we only find 6 billion barrels of oil in 2006, by 2026 we may be tabulating these same discoveries as 12 or 15 billion barrels. Still not enough to keep up with the oil we burn, but enough to delay the peak significantly.  I'm now wondering, however, if we'll see reserve growth of today's discoveries over the next few decades or is the reserve growth of yesterday's fields just an artifact of imperfect oil surveying methods in the past.  I thought it had to do with oil companies wanting to be able to spread out the reporting of discoveries to hide bad exploration years.

I think I can answer it also in my big hairy long post.

Reserve growth post peak is basically not relevant nor are many of the near term project coming online. Think about it.
If post peak the decline is say 4% then in 3 years were in deep trouble no amount of reserve growth is going to help.

The only effect is that the massive drilling that has happened in 2004 to now will delay or more correctly flatten the peak for maybe one more year say out into 2007. The only way we had out of peak oil is if there were significant undeveloped discoveries and I mean huge fields who's development was delayed because of price. These could be brought online and what we would see is sure excessive tightening of oil supplies today followed by a delayed correction as supply caught up with demand. We don't have these massive discoveries waiting. This is why I'm personally not that impressed with the mega project report.
Anything not coming online basically now will be to late to prevent the peak.

We need a massive ramp in production or a real indication that one is on the way to supply the Chinese and Indian economies there just not there. I think a lot of people don't grasp that if we want to keep business as usual we have to go to 100mbd at a minimum in the the near future.
It's just not going to happen. Thats like bringing a new KSA online and covering depletion.  I figure this is like 20 mbd
of export we need online in the next 5 years. Overal your talking prob 25 mpd to cover increased internal consumption.
For export this translates into 4 mbpd or 4% of our current production. You can argue these numbers but there obviously not going to be reached by any reasonable analysis.

Even if oil was not peaking the overall percentage growth of the world's economies must slow to a crawl as they get so large since your going to hit a hard limit in the rate you can bring new resources on line even without depletion. There are just to many rate limiting factors. Add in any real world consideration for depletion or scarity of resources and its obvious we have hit a brick wall across all commodities and raw materials. I kow we focus on oil but right now its basically peak everything water metal oil etc etc. The only commodities that may have room for significant growth today is coal and maybe overall NG production. Even this is debatable. NG because getting it to market is expensive and Coal because we probably cannot really ramp our production up as much as we think simply for lack of equipment rail lines etc so both face real limiting factors even though there not at peak. There are good economic reasons why we still have both resources today and its not because we wanted to conserve them.

The only assumption I'm making for oil and its a safe one is one of the major oil producers will go into decline in fact we only need one big field to collapse and we already have that in Cantrell.

The party is already over.

I recommend the PDF below by Laherre as a good recent source for analyzing this complicated issue. I think it has the best current discussion of this issue, and also why we should not expect "reserve growth" as observed in the US through the years to continue. He also discusses impact of techology.

Good paper It made me think about how to get real data
on oil fields if the production data and reserve numbers
are bogus.

Warning long rambling post but I think I've come up with
a way to caculate accurately the peak date for fields based
on first principles.
But you have to read through to the bottom.

Now it seems that world oil discoveries peaked in 1980.
That is over 25 years ago. What I can't find is comparable numbers for a region when was peak discovery in the lower 48 and in North America and how long in general from peak discovery to top production ?

I'd guess in the US it was 1930-1940 it looks like the East Texas field was discovered in 1930. So I'm guessing that was probably the at or near the peak in discoveries. So guessing agian at some point production was higher then discoveries and this is a wild guess say 1950 and 27 years later we peaked.

Does someone know the real answer for various regions.
I supect its highly conserved and probably almost a constant.

So the hypothesis is that the time from peak discovery i.e when most of the oil has been discovered to peak  is around 30-40 years.
Time from when production outstrips discoveries is about 20 years or so.

If these two numbers are correct then peak discovery in KSA was 1960 ??? the point where you crossed the production vs discovery lines should then be 2000 and final peak is 20 years later which is 2020.

I found this table

Field    URR (Gb)    Discovery Date
Ghawar    66-100    1938
Safaniya    21-36    1951
Shaybah    18-18    1969
Manifah    17-17    1957
Berri    10-25    1965
Abqaiq    10-15    1941
Zuluf    12.0-14.0    1965
Qatif    8.4    1965
Abu Safah    6.0    1969

Which is not complete but could suggest I may be a bit late on KSA with peak discoveries happening in 1950 with is pretty convient since it moves my predicted peak date to 2010. The big reason for the move back in peak discoveries is because Ghawar is so large. You would think there is a graph somewhere of the discovery profile for KSA.

In anycase this approach is not meant to be that exact but its simply to show that given we know when the last major discovery happens it takes forty years before depletion out strips remainining discovery and once this happens its only about 20 years before production peaks.

I really think these numbers may be signifcant but why ?

The reasoning behind considering these number valid is that in a large enough region that has major discoveries shortly afterwards there will be extensive searches for the best/largest fields throughout the region since you of course wan't to develop the best and largest fields in a region as soon as possible. The 40 year ramp is that it seems that it takes about this much time to turn all these discoveries into production get the wells drilled etc this is a suspicious number and probably not accurate why 40 ?
why not 30 or 20 ??

Now for the north sea peak discovery may be
This would suggest around 40 years for production to outpace
discovery 2003 and twenty more agian to peak 2023. Obviously wrong but the number thats wrong is the guess of 40 years to develop and finish exploring a region in fact this number must be determined experimentally since it varies.

This suggests the assumption of 40 years from peak discovery to peak production is inded that a wag there are simply to many factors that influence when the rate of production outstrips discoveries. Now our last number I'm claiming for and field or group of fields from the time you begin producing more oil then you discover you have twenty years before peak.

So in closing the time from peak discovery to when you reach the point that your producing more then your discovering is probably not a good number but varies from say 20-40 years.
It would be nice to see if its range is much smaller but it does indeed look like a useless stat.

Next though I really suspect that from the time you cross over and produce more then you discover the time to peak is quite fixed and is pretty easy to determine it looks like this number is 20 years with potentially a pretty low variation.

This hypothesis is not a lot different from hubbert linerazation which really is focusing on production numbers in the same region i.e when the fields is mature and major discoveries are no longer being made. I'm just doing a empirical short cut and asserting that the moment we know we have a mature region defined as producing more then we are discovering we have about twenty years before production peaks.

I hope some of the the people out ther with the data would be willing to see if indeed this is true and the variation low.

The reason I have a lot of faith in this probably being true is its really just a factor of how fast you can drill a well and deplete it. The guess is that a individual (original) oil well has about a 10 year life cycle before it declines.
Infield drilling expands this out to about 20 years before a given region is depleted. In other words all the oil wells possible are not drilled in a field at once but on average a well produces for 10 years before decline and the infield drilling expands this for a small region of a field to 20.

I wrote the above before finding this link.

And they give the average life of a oil well to be 15-30 years.

Which gives assuming the peak production is halfway thourh the live of the well a range of 7-15 years which leads to about 10 on average :)
Man I'm a really really good guesser :)

The next guess is that on average about half or less then half ( 1/4 ?) of the possible nubmer of wells that could be drilled to extract a field are actually drilled near the begining of production with the rest drilled over the next ten years.

Anyway it looks like guessing 20 years to peak once production out paces discoveries may have a firm basis in the drilling profiles for fields and the lifetime of oil wells.

It would be of course nice to know now what a real drilling
and infield maintence scheduale is.

I know this post is getting long but lets revist the initial
guess that may prove halfway accurate that the countdown start when production outpaces discoveries.

This can acutally be recast to a better number to use for count down to peak production. This number would be some precentage of the total of all possible wells that could be drilled and you can use a field value for the lifetime of the wells or my 10 year average to peak number for a generic oil well. The next question is what could this number be.
My guess is its 1/4 of the total. Given it probably takes 4/5 years to get this many wells in and producing it happens to often concide with the point production exceeds discovery because a producing area is probably fully explored within five years of initial production of the first large fields found in a region.

The nice thing about this type of analysis is  it based on a different metric from hubbert linearzation and is fairly direct since we need only estimate the number of total wells possible with a resonable amount of accuracy. Finally using real well lifetimes plus the known total will narrow down the peak range.

In fact its easy to see that hubbert linearzation is really  doing this but its using the field average production numbers not the per well and the slope is the infield drilling program.

Now what do I mean by total number of wells. This is based not on the size of the reserve which may be bogus but simply on the geograpical spacing. That is you can drill a well every two km with interference between the producing regions. So its a real easy number to calculate if you know
the the extents of a field.

Next you need to know the average lifetime of a well in the field and the drilling rate.
In both cases industry averages can be used to get a fairly good estimate and industry averages can also be used for well spacing.

The only thing you may need to consider is if the wells are simple vertical or advanced horizonatal wells the reasoning is horizontal wells are spaced differently. But this only improves the numbers. I suspect that assuming production via simple horizontal wells at a certain spacing and infield drill rate is sufficient to get a very good estimate of the peak in production.  Additionaly data such and real field per well lifetime/production data and the types of wells and the best practice spacing just serve to refine the estimate.
I don't think it will change the peak production date by more then a few years. So I'm saying we really don't need to know that much about a field to get a pretty accurate guess at its production life time. If we can do this from first principles with the only input being the size of the field then we can sum the fields to get a region average on up to the world.
For fields like Ghawar that are so large they were put into production in stages you need to use the numbers for each region of the field to give the start dates.

I hope the above makes sense and is useful.

Phineas Gage said:

> He says that Campbell complains about the lack of back dating
> when reserves growth occurs for an old oil discovery but doesn't
> recognize that today's discoveries will also experience
> reserve growth in the future.

But today's post-discovery reserve estimates are based on the recovery factors that we get with today's technology. So the reserve growth that took 40 years for a field discovered in the 1960s, is booked with the stroke of a pen today. And there isn't any dramatically new technology on the horizon any more:

  • Chemical, miscible and thermal EOR was pretty thoroughly investigated after the 1970s oil shocks, and just went to sleep for twenty years after 1986
  • Reservoir simulation hasn't advanced significantly in 15 years
  • The last big advance in well logging (NMR) is of similar vintage
  • Horizontal wells (and even multilaterals) were in widespread application ten years ago - they've come down in price a bit, that's all
  • Same for 3D and even some early examples of 4D seismic

Subsea and offshore systems architecture is still showing some advancement, but that's access technology, not reserves growth technology.

So your assessment:

> is the reserve growth of yesterday's fields just an artifact of
> imperfect oil surveying methods in the past

is correct, yes... and so much more concise than my explanation.

Additions to reserves
Needing to find almost 4% of its oil reserves each year seems a daunting prospect for the global oil industry, hence the pessimism of the casual observer of the oil scene. However, all is not what it seems — things are not as bad as they might appear at first sight. Relaxing the assumption that the world has to contend with an immutably fixed stock of crude oil makes all the difference; where there was gloom there is now the possibility of a happier outcome. A simple relationship says it all. The rate of change of proven oil reserves depends on the rate of gross additions to reserves less the rate of oil production (see below). Gross additions to reserves, in turn, comprise new discoveries, oilfield extensions and revisions.

Now that I've stopped laughing, I'm ready to make a serious comment. I agree that once one drops the assumption that oil is a finite resource, it does make all the difference... I'm feeling happier already, the gloom is lifting...

OK, that wasn't serious yet. Sorry. Someone

  1. guesses the OOIP for field F
  2. guesses the recovery rate R
  3. guesses the URR for F  =  OOIP * R
The URR is based on two guesses. That's why reserves are an opinion. When the Hubbert linearization settles down, production from the field has reached a level of "maturity" where it is possible to extrapolate to get the URR (Qt) and the depletion rate k. That's the theory. What makes the method strong is that it is based on production and historical production, which as Croft notes, are facts.

Does EOR/IOR improve R and thus the URR? There is no general case. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The day you are happiest, like the US lower-48 in 1970, may be your finest hour. You will never be that happy again. The declines may be steep. Against this psychological uncertainty, the mind has an array of defenses. As Hamlet said

To revise, or not to revise: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by revising end them?

URR does not matter !!!

Maybe all these games with recoverable reserves don't really matter too much here is the scenario.

First advanced recovery methods are touted for increasing the amount of recoverable oil and allowing recovery from fields that are not otherwise producible. The second case adds to the overall world supply for sure. The effect of the first condition increasing recovery is in my opinion not so important.  Consider in general your going to get 50% of the oil out of a field ( probably high ) if you put the increased recovery amount on two sides of the curve and more important add in the fact that these methods increase the depletion rate or basically enhance the production rate and what we have is this.

We can assume on the front side that at best 50% of the increase over the normal recovery rate will happen before the field declines. The rest will occur during the decline side of the field.

My position is its not proven in the least that more oil is actually extracted before the field starts into decline only the rate of extraction is enhanced. The 50% increase in URR is suspect at best for delaying the decline of the field.
Basically the increase in depletion swamps any increase in recovered oil before decline by a huge margin say 100:1.

Now I don't disagree that later or in a field that on its down slope these methods cannot increase the ultimate recovered reserves but the important point is that this final recovery will be at extraction rates far far below the peak and probably still have steep decline rates.

In a sense this is where I see a step function happening on the decline side. Drilling in fields past there peak causes a brief increase in production measured in years not decades then a steep decline followed by more aggressive methods that stabilize the field at a much lower level then down again.

Splitting out these effects is important since the Western Oil companies have become experts at wringing a field dry.
Sure they obtain more oil but whats important is its oil extracted at vastly lower production rates then when the field was pre-peak.  Now overall its debatable if they change the real extraction rate all that much since some fields will get boosted and some will crash as advanced methods such as co2 injection end and the field goes offline. Also these methods take a lot more infrastructure to implement causing significant cost/delays. My position is we will never attempt them for the vast majority of fields since overall the amount of oil will be falling and decline will fundamentally change the oil based economy.

So I'm comfortable with ignoring any of these reserve increases touted from advanced recovery methods and just assuming that what they do is bring the peak production earlier and more important cause a steep initial post peak decline before more aggressive methods are used to arrest the decline.

To finish off.

Advanced methods should cause the rate of production to increase and cause field to approach there peak production earlier in time. The downside is a initial significant drop in the production rate will almost always happen since when the wells water out you have extracted past 50% URR.

There is a delay before additional more aggressive methods can be used if economical to arrest the decline but the new production rates are always significantly less then the old.
In the chaos of a post peak world its not clear how much of this oil will ever be produced.

The shape of decline post peak is important because this is what we have to deal with during the transition from a world that's not peak oil aware to one that knows every year there will be less oil. My position is that we have a plateau then a big drop then some improvement. But what is important is the overall extraction or back side of the worlds production curve is not really all that relevant since at this point the whole society has changed in recognition that oil resources will decline every year.

In closing even though URR estimates are basically bogus
we are confident that given the known production we can estimate using Hubbert linearization. This approach does not match reality i.e it does not give us the date of the peak or the extraction rates correctly if advance methods are used. But all they do is increase production on the front side of the peak and cause a larger drop on the backside making the pre peak data more optimistic. Next its to optimistic since it assumes more oil can be produced pre peak then is the case from inflated URR's estimates. A lot of this oil will actually be produced from fattening of the tail of production and it won't be produced at any where near the rates that were possible pre-peak.

Once your a few years post peak all this is really not that important since external perception of oil has changed completely. Before the world peaks the oil gained from enhanced recovery certainly helps but post world peak its not relevant since the declines swamp the gains from depleted fields.

Now are there other scenarios that result in a plateau without a steep decline post peak ? The only answer here is that new fields are comming online and reworking of older fields is happening at such a rate that any significant deline is covered. If this is the case then we will indeed not see the cliff but a slow decline of say 1-3%.

But how do you prove this trend will continue say for a decade given that world wide there are two factors that will cause significant depleation events. The huge fields will eventually go into major decline most of these fields are already post peak so they will decline for the most part together or within a few years of each other.  Next a lot of the worlds smaller fields are declining or being extracted at high rates these fields will add significantly in total to the decline. Now take into account the state of our oil fields as far as pipelines equipment etc since we know that they were not maintained when oil was cheap. The fact that the state oil companies are generally inneficient and corrupt. Growing consumption in oil producing countries during the peak as oil prices skyrocket but production remains high and you have so many negatives. And on top of this the destabilization politically and the oil producing nations exert there political power near peak.

All these external and internal factors to me point to a world that won't experience a "soft landing" to use a meme circulating today. And again we don't really care what the last 2/3 of the production curve looks like its not that relevant since at this point the world has fundamentally changed.

The only way out of this mess that I can see is to use other methods to cause significant demand destruction after the peak. If the world's leaders are peak oil aware then really the best approach assuming there competing is to run there economies flat out to get as much wealth generated as possible pre-peak then instigate a recession post peak to hide the real fact that oil production is decreasing by lowering demand significantly. The other choice is hyper-inflation. Note this does not require some sort of evil plot just recognition of peak oil and recognizing the inflationary effect of increasing oil prices.

The problem the western nations have overall is there faced with unwinding the housing boom or going into hyper inflation caused by peak oil.

I think the latest stop in intrest rate hikes was really a smoke screen to give housing a chance to unwind a bit before more aggresive unwinding continues. Note that the oil prices magically stablized also. I'm pretty convinced the feds are now locking the intrest rate to oil prices either intentionally or simply from the effect on economic indicators. This means in the US and probably world wide we are already in powerdown.

If I'm right then the housing bubble will eventually be popped with a vengence the goverment has no choice or the rest of our economy will go into hyper-inflation.
I think in retrospect the only reason the US allowed this to happen was because of economic competition with China.
We got caught in a symbiotic relationship where to compete we had to consume there output since they were buying so much of our debt. I think in the end both countries are going to lose big time when this unwinds. Politically china can't handle a major recession that's why they played the game. On our side we had no choice but to allow hyper-inflation of the housing market to generate the wealth
to fund chinese expansion. The fact we acted as a sink for there production is really not that important. On the chinese side they wanted to avoid a recession at all costs on our side I think in general there was a lot of basic recognition that this was the last party and once the chinese and indian economies came onstream it would be a resource battle for growth from there on out.

Now we have too shakeout our overall economy to ensure it can function in the precense of increasing oil prices and lower returns or all hell will break loose the housig bubble is the least of our worries. This means the stock market will take a beating also.

So where do people invest ?
Intrest rates have to rise since the only place to invest will be to save at this point so the best return in a power-down economy will be to move most capitol into basically simple savings accounts and tie the money up.
The only growth will be in increasing efficieny and alternative energy sources. But the only way for wealthy people to make money in this sort of enviroment is to increase the value of the dollars they already hold. In general this means that the real wages for the rest of the people needs to decrease agianst the current production ratio so goods get more expensive. This of course has to be balanced agianst loosing consumers but in any case the standard of living for most will decrease steadily as wealth

This economic scenario requires no conspiracy except that the goverment will continue to increase intrest rates to destroy the debt economy and transition economic control to the wealthy who can only lend real money and away from the fractional banking system. Economically this is how I believe we will unwind the fractional banking system eventually since it does not function in a economy that is always shrinking. Eventually we will end up with a fixed or decreasing money supply decreasing since the wealthy will simply not invest when the markets are not favorable.
Eventually once the economy shrinks enough we will probably move back to something like a gold standard or proabably a energy standard for backing the money.

Finally back to the chinese its time to drop the bomb on there growth and break the global economy but tanking not only the US economy but all the western nations. Not sure how we will do it but best guess is we will actually play a double game. Initally we will allow inflation to go uncontrolled to erase the debt and just maybe to save some of the housing market but next we will become draconion with intrest rates to turn off the debt based economy. Or we may even default but massively increase intrest rates tough to say. But there seems to be no doubt that once we are past peak oil intrest rates will be aggresivly increased regardless of the cost till its cheaper to borrow from individuals that have real wealth.

Can we predict the shape of the peak ?
Can someone debunk my cliff prediction ?
Am I right about how we will unwind fractional banking ?
What's the best approach the US can take while it has power to tank the Chinese economy ?

More important can someone show me that the world will respond rationally once everyone knows were post peak regardless of the shape ?


That's a remarkable synthesis of what I've been thinking these last few days...

One more thing : I'm thinking that the Chinese have a powerful motive for crashing the US economy, even at the expense of losing a major client :

It knocks a major rival out of the energy market. They need the oil, they have the money to buy it with. They need to demonstrate that the US doesn't have the money to buy the oil.

"It knocks a major rival out of the energy market."

Or the US could seize the ME oil fields and essentially renege on its foreign debt--which is what I sometimes think that BCR may be ultimately up to.

Or the US could seize the ME oil fields

Easier said than done obviously, short of a "terminal" ethnic cleansing of the whole area but debellatio is out of fashion those days.

China crashing the dollar has been discussed on TOD here and here.

"It knocks a major rival out of the energy market."  

Bingo.  Just not for a while yet.  They play wei chei, while the Hilary Bush gang plays checkers, at best.

Let the tar baby continue to sap its strength flailing about the desert sands.  

Tar baby... That's a powerful metaphor.

Gets me thinking. Are the Chinese tweaking Bush around? Did they set him up to invade Iraq? Knowing that it would throw Iran into their arms, give them a free hand in Africa...

The Chinese are doing everything they can to prop up the dollar, the US government, and the US economy, in case you haven't noticed. They are investing in pv solar, CTL, and anything else they can think of. The big world players don't want a US crash, they want to be treated as equals. They are every bit as concerned about peak oil as we are, maybe more so, since they have limited natural resources. I think the Chinese are mostly concerned that the US will muck it up in Iran, essentially screwing the pooch on world oil production.

And I think we are doing everything we can to crash the world economy to preserver resources for relocalization of the american economy.

We just happend to have the military might to protect the remaining sources of oil. I think the fact we will have a African command now was not really appreciated.

And we have a big force in Iraq.

Finally the much talked about streching thin of American forces right now is only because we have not institued the draft yet.

A nice economic recession will convince a lot of young unemployed men to join the military. And a nice little war with Iran will help get the draft reinstated in Congress.

I'm pretty sure our aims in Iran are three fold.
1.) Get control of the oil.
2.) Get the draft turned back on in the US to support future resource control operations.
3.) Get the world economy crashed to stop depletion through demand destruction.

Believe it or not I think the number one most important thing this administration wants to a achieve with iran is the get that draft going.

Its amazing that the game now for the US is to destroy the global economy while the people were trying to take out are doing everything they can to prop up the US dollar.

But this weird scenario is because the dollar is the global currency today and re-localization demands they we move the US economy back to one where the currency is local and interest rates are high while the external exchange rate is fixed at a untenable level to prevent globalization.
External pressure :) will be used to ensure that energy producers sell there products at our fixed exchange rate.
Remeber that internally high intrest rates insure the currency has value inside the region its used for money.

I think a lot of people promoting power down and localization have not really though through the global impact of the process.  What's really funny as all these people that complain about fractional banking do not really understand whats going to happen when it goes away. Be careful what you wish for.

Its a crazy world ain't it.

It's amazing that the game now for the US is to destroy the global economy while the people we're trying to take out are doing everything they can to prop up the US dollar.

I don't think that the US is trying to "take anyone out" necessarily, they are just trying to perpetuate the Ponzi scheme and they are incredibly inept. The guvmint is trying everything known to man to cover up the facts on the economy, peak oil, and the environment. I don't think they have a evil plan necessarily, they are just incredibly stupid. They make all the worst possible moves because they are tryng to pacify too many masters. Look at the standard of living in the US, and compare it to the rest of the world, we have nothing to complain about right now. The complaints will come when the greedfest recession finally hits. Everyone is expecting it, that doesn't mean they planned for it. You can only hold back the tide of dollars from the trade deficits for so long, and they have done a heck of a job of it. They (foreign countries)have destroyed US money every imaginable way over the last three decades. Investments, bonds, carry trades, bad real estate investments. In spite of all this, we can't continue the way we have. It isn't part of any grand conspiracy, it is the chickens coming home to roost. The real pain will come because we have not taken one step in the direction of weaning ourselves from imported goods, including liquid fuels.

I'm actually not claiming a conspiracy here at all.
I see none. The only conspiracy I see is that I feel the government is peak oil aware and there not making it blatantly obvious to the American public dishonest maybe conspiracy no.
They are doing a lot to try and come up with and approach to wean America off oil Bush's hydrogen economy and now ethanol.

I think on this side we all feel there approach has been weak and misguided for sure but its important to understand they are trying now.

Now on the financial side again I think the government knows that the big ponzi scheme of the last 50 years is coming to end they will play it out but what I've been talking about is not how there going to play short term but what steps will the US take financially when the game is up and the ponzi scheme collapses ?

On this I've just talked about steps to re-localize and revitalize the American economy.

How are they going to get Americans to quit driving ?
I think its obvious that in my scenarios there will be few Americans driving cars so everyone whining about our car economy and consumption is going to get there dreams answered and not in a nice way.

So on this level the only assumptions I've made is that the US government is peak oil aware and understands that we will need to re-localize and finally Americans will not willingly give up the auto. So Bush and who ever replaces him is going to make sure we change.

And to be honest even though it looks brutal and I wish that we would take a different approach I don't think Americans will accept the sacrifices they will have to make of the next twenty years. I would love to see a different route then the one we seem to be taking.

But considering the ignorance of the general American public I right now have to agree with  Bush and all the hated neocons it better to crash and convert the world economy now while we still have oil in the ground then it is to try and keep a steadily worsening status quo going till the world is fighting over the last remaining resources.

Think about where the US economy will be say 10 years post peak.

1.) Localized if possible anything that can be made local will be.
2.) Relatively low wages this keeps the price of goods down is really the only way to make a profit since all other costs increase the only way out outside of raising prices is to lower wages.
3.) Everyone will be riding bikes and trains the car is gone.

4.) Most will live in rented housing and apts suburbia will cease to exist some subs will develop new city centers some will simply become ghost towns. The sprawling mega cities will be the worst hit with population either moving back into the city like New York or migrating to other city centers.

5.) Agriculture for food fuel and plastic goods will be the backbone of the economy and at the same time prevent growth.

In any case the nature of a post peak economy is not really that debatable the only issues are the distribution of energy production methods among nuclear coal wind/solar.

Not the overall nature of the economy.

I agree that the US government makes missteps and they seem to be hell bent on solving our coming problems in the worst possible way. But never never assume there stupid are they don't understand the nature and impact of peak oil.

Sure the methods and route there taking to re-localize the US economy in my opinion is not the best or most enlightened rout and it will I think harm more Americans and esp other people in the world then approaches that are more open and friendly.  But again there not stupid they know whats at stake and they know how our renewable economy must operate.

The interesting part and I'd not call it fun as I feel like I understand more is understanding how the world governments plan to implement power-down.

Prove to me that the US government is inept and not aware of the coming peak oil crisis.

Prove to me that the invasion of Iraq is not a failed attempt to mitigate the effect of peak oil.

Prove to me that the saber rattling with Iran is not and obvious attempt to precipitate a crash of the worlds economies. We all know that the US cannot withstand a 100 barrel of oil.

And finally with the Security Council willing to sanction Iran knowing that it will result in economic collapse we get to the one place I think there is a back room conspiracy.

My analysis indicates that now all major economic zones are moving to re-localize this means the Chinese Europe and America. The conspiracy here is maybe they have already divided the remaining resources and agreed to divide the world into economic zones that basically don't interact since globalization has failed.

Going out on a limb here :)

How do we pacify the Chinese going forward ?
Probably believe it or not we give them the ME since Iraq is obviously a failure. How can we do that ?
Take out Iran.

Whats the trade the lives of a few American soldiers in exchange for no nuclear war.

Europe what do they get ?
Russia and Africa
What does Russia get ?
They get into the WTO and later join the EU and
they get agreements from China to keep Siberia (this may not last)

Which major power is getting the shaft here ?

India they basically get some Russian oil and some middle east oil there only power is they stand between China and the ME oil.

What does America get.
South America is our playground. And we will use starving Mexican troops to control it. Sure the Chinese are cutting deals in South America and with Cuba but in the big picture
its just to protect there investment.

Africa eventually goes back to Europe.

As you can see with this scenario for re-localization the big losers are Japan/Korea/Taiwan and India.

Also even this conspiracy does not need to be real its just that it's a bit obvious that when your sphere of influence only extends as far as you can lay electric rail lines or over short sea voyages that post peak the world will fracture along geographic boundaries. No one is going to have the resources to control regions that are across the globe and the amount of economic trade between regions will be far far less then it is today.

It simple colonialism all over again. The real driving force is ensuring that China gets its oil supply. They are going to take it either from the ME or from Russia and I do mean take not buy.

Agian its almost trivial to figure out the post oil economy.
It will be electric rail and local thats a given.
The vast majority of the economy will only extend as far as electric rails can be laid.

The days of massive movements of goods across the Oceans are over.

All the worlds goverments know where they need to end up with there economies eventually.

Then work back and figure out the intresting manuvering they will do between now and then. All my above conjectures are simply gaming how the world will manuver to get to a localized economy.

And to get this post back on topic I feel even though even though I've rambled read the posts that focus on the fact that the only thing that matters is after we peak. Once were post peak then all the crap I'm talking about is going to come to pass.

To me this is the most important post made on peak oil it shows that any talk about production much after the peak is not relevant since our economies will begin to restructure to handle a world where resources decrease year after year after year. In my opinion its already started. If I'm right we will barely make it a year post peak before the world economy de-globalizes.

I love that one it goes on my list of nice ways to say a lot of people are screwed.

Demand Destruction
Ensuring access to resources.

Or simply a lot of dead and starving people till we get to a sustainable economic level.

Am I crazy ???

Read this

And this

And this

Notice that the immigration statement and the economy ones take basically different stands in immigration.

Whats Bush hiding here ?
Is he hiding SuperNafta ? k-yard-nafta-and-the-southern-cone.html

I see a goverment that is very peak oil aware and well on there way to implement a new relocalized economy.

Agian to get back on topic why ? And why now ?
Because I think we are right post peak the current status quo is no longer relevent relocalization and resource control are what will almost immediatly drive the world.

Unless Americans wake up and start fighting to ensure that they get the best possible outcome for this new economy and give up there cars willingly and support conversion its going to be done without our consent and with a hig probability that a much lower standard of living will be the norm to maximize profits.

Understand the easiest way to destroy a democracy is to impoverish the people.

And when George Bush talks about protecting Americans he means wealthy Americans.

Hopefully they will pay programmers well in the brave new world since outsourcing to China and India will probably end. At least for a time they may be a shortage of technical people in the North American Union.

Prove to me that the US government is inept and not aware of the coming peak oil crisis.

I never said they weren't aware of peak oil, I said they were trying to cover up the facts with obfuscation and lies.

Prove to me that the invasion of Iraq is not a failed attempt to mitigate the effect of peak oil.

I never claimed that it wasn't.

As to the government being inept, I think it is plenty clear that they are looting the treasury and accomplishing nothing to mitigate a declining resources environment. The states and wealthy private interests are now taking the up the charge in the quest for renewable energy. The lack of help from the federal authorities in this effort is an unconscionable blunder.

A planned crash is not planning, it is madness. If the US would cut consumption by even 10% it would drive down the price of oil and push out the day of reckoning. We could reduce %10 standing on our heads, but the current administration is too gutless to stand up to the oil lobby or to ask the people to conserve. This failure will surely lead to needless suffering at some point, the sad part is, much of it could have been prevented.

Memmel, you have some interesting views but would be more convincing if you could learn the difference between
"there" (a place), their (the possessive of they), and "they're" which means "they are".  Not trivial because if you spell at a sub-third-grade level, people will tend to question your maturity and judgement.
No doubt someone will find a spelling error in the above.  

I've got dyslexia pretty bad and this is one of several things that is impossible for me to see.

I'm not asking for sympathy just explaining. I assure you I'm very very very aware of my problem. I was ashamed of it for a long time.  It was really hard for me to open up  write something that could be seen in public without review.

What's funny is the absolutely worst thing about having dyslexia was trying to do mathematical word problems I don't know why but they really tripped me up. I had to cut a box in a sheet of paper and read through the box to keep from mixing up a problem.

I'm surprised the grammar stuff is your biggest complaint I've always hated my convoluted sentences caused by misplacing words. Intresting.

Funny(not really), I was thinking about Po and it's implications and decided that for the survivors the best posible thing that could happen would be a pandemic(bird flu). I realize thatthis could be me and my family that would not make it but there would be more resources left this way.   Just a thought...abit depressing

No, it's not to destroy the world economy. The world economy doesn't matter. It's to keep the party going for our ruling elite.

Heinberg's little synopsis of "Who are the Neo-Cons", "PowerDown", p68:

  • A leader must perpetually deceive the ruled
  • Those who lead are accountable to no one (except the Superior being)
  • Religion is the force that binds and manipulates
  • Secularism is to be suppressed because it leads to critical thinking
  • A political system can be stable only if united against an external threat - manufactured if need be

Today we have a cable tv operator busted under PATRIOT act for providing a "terrorist" tv channel.

This is a joke, except it isn't. "Americans Are the World's Only Humans"

We're already on the ugly totalitarian side of Catch-22. Our rulers are NOT stupid - not all of them anyway. Nor are they making the worst possible decisions *for their class*. It just sucks to be the rest of the world. We're going to get accountability about the cluster bombs in Lebanon? Dream on. This is a teaching moment, getting the white folks used to killing swarthies. Making every American more and more visibly and palpably complicit in what it takes to maintain our way of living. Your oil or their lives - pick one. Sophie's choice times 6billion. [Yeah, they'll come for us shortly thereafter anyway.]

"It was a bad joke played by God that oil and gas were put where there is no demand, and coal was put in China, India, and the United States," says Ernest J. Moniz, and MIT physicist and a former undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. - p54, Technology Review, Jul/Aug 2006
Funny, in a colonial racist sort of way.

I do so look forward to every edition of my alumni rag, Tech Review, what's the best and most effective way to kill and plunder and profit from the DoD or DoE? How about a genetically engineered organism to turn cellulose into ethanol? Conservation? That got a sidebar on one page in the issue on "Energy Technologies: It's Not Too Late". Coal - Get Used to It, Oil - Isn't this a Kool Drill and Nukes? If One Nuke Won't Do, Get 1000 by 2050.

The Israeli clusterbombs had a failure-to-explode rate of only a few percent. It's the US made clusterbombs that had the 30% plus failure-to-explode rate. That's a lot of lost profit for the Israeli munitions industry - they could have sold nearly 50% more bombs if they increased their dud rate and saved a couple of dollars on each one too - Americans are better at business, aren't they? But then, again, do we want an Israeli company or an American company capping that mega billion ton CO2 sequestration field? Assuming any CO2 gets into the field in the first place.

cfm in Gray, ME

And a nice little war with Iran will help get the draft reinstated in Congress.

It won't be nice, and it won't be little - count on that. A generally unnoted report of British troops deploying to the Iranian border may portend the coming festivities.

British Leave Iraqi Base; Militia Supporters Jubilant

BAGHDAD, Aug. 24 -- British troops abandoned a major base in southern Iraq on Thursday and prepared to wage guerrilla warfare along the Iranian border to combat weapons smuggling, a move that anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called the first expulsion of U.S.-led coalition forces from an Iraqi urban center.
The British soldiers, members of the Queen's Royal Hussars, are preparing to trade their heavy Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior fighting vehicles for lightweight Land Rovers, Burbridge said. They expect to become a flexible, mobile force with no fixed base and receive supplies by airdrops.

"The Americans believe there is an inflow of IEDs and weapons across the border with Iran," said Burbridge, referring to improvised explosive devices, in a telephone interview from Basra. "Our first objective is to go and find out if that is the case. If that is true, we'll be able to disrupt the flow." He said the second goal was to train Iraqi border guards.
You'll know the US is actually getting out of Iraq (and I don't believe that we will) when we start abandoning bases..

You may be right, but I'm not so sure. Bases may be abandoned, but the primary reason might just be that the troops are being repositioned for an attack on Iran - not that they're leaving the region.

The news excerpt that I quoted from above represents "coalition" preparations for an escalation in hostilities with Iran, IMO. Note that the British troops will be re-supplied solely by air. This might mean that their land-based supply lines were so compromised that they couldn't afford to remain at the base. And what exactly will they be doing on the Iranian border?

Something major is about to go down, and its not going to be pretty.

You may also be more right than I; the situation with Iran is certainly volatile and it could well explain the latest troop movements...I read it as the British doing some sort of "phased withdrawal" having been essentially chased out of Basra by local militias.
BCR wants to use nukes against Iran but so far the resistance internally has been massive. But what happens if BCR let the French and Russians have their way? We negotiate a bit more, Iran produces a bomb, and then, if the Iranian president is as nuts as he seems, he uses it. Voila! Instant casus belli. Or, if he's not that nuts, we somehow prod the process along behind the scenes. And remember that the Pentagon has a reported 400 target locations identified, of which at least 75 are reported to "require" nukes and the others might need them as well.

Remember that FDR (a Democrat) maneuvered Japan into where they almost had to declare war on the US. The only surprise to FDR was that they attacked first then declared war, which delayed his entry into the European theater, which is where he wanted to go. Instead, because of his own machinations, he had to fight Japan first and foremost, or else he'd have been toast in the 1944 election. But if you've read the declassified memos, there was a deliberate strategy to force Japan into declaring war, which would then force Germany (Japan's ally) into declaring war, which would then let us focus on Germany. We did get around to Germany but not quite as quickly as FDR wanted.

Just how outraged do you think the US population would be if hundreds of thousands of Israelis in, say, Tel Aviv, die in a nuclear blast? Do you really think BCR would have any problem getting nukes deployed and used against Iran then? I don't. Heck, what do you think the US response would be if Hillary is in office and that happens? The exact same thing - total destruction of Iran. So yeah, go ahead and elect Hillary and watch her nuke Iran too.

The only way for Iran to now avoid getting nuked is to (a) never use a nuke and (b) never get blamed for a nuke going off in Israel or any European or North American city. Consequently, because Iran is going to get blamed one way or another (you can count on this), I believe Iran will be turned into green sheet glass. The only question is when, not if.

And before some of you freak and jump on me, no, I don't approve. But I see how the system works and if you think you can change it, go right ahead. I promise you that you'll either fail or be co-opted by the system too.

Iran will be turned into green sheet glass.

Would not that be detrimental to Iran oil production?
Her customers will be pissed, who are they, BTW...

Yes I agree I'm becoming pretty convinced that at the economic level every country is out to crash its symbiotic partners as they unwind the global economy and re-localize to minimize transportation costs and more important make money of all steps of production.

So the general economic model in a constrained basic resource environment is.
1.) Control as much of the production as possible.
2.) Convert back to a vertical industry to eliminate costs.
3.) Reduce transportation as much as possible.
4.) At all costs keep all the profits for your self.
5.) Lower wages as much as possible ( This is the nasty one)

If your following the above approach at say the industrial level then the overall economic approach is to use financial instruments to take out the opponents economies.

At the world level a central bank has two choices they can hyper-inflate there currencies and debase there debt or they can massively increase there interest rates to move the economy of of fractional banking to a real reserve based system. This increases the strength of the currency allowing you to buy/control/build out your vertical isolation and has the nice side effect of of decreasing real employee wages.

The reason you can decrease wages is counter intuitive in a recession since your money gets stronger but its because the employee's economic position is week either they have a job or they don't and many will not so you can pound down wages even as your currency strengthens.

Note this vertical approach was the economic model of the 1800-1900's all the way up till the 70's. Globalization/Horizontal business models have not been a big part of our economy till recently.

And as I mentioned in another post even if you don't have resource depletion the global growth model actually fails fairly quickly simply because if the shear size of the economy. It basically can't grow fast enough.

I'd love to hear from some real economist how they think countries or more correct central banks would act if the goal is to destroy your opponents economy.

The US seems to have taken the position that we would get all the rest of the central banks to buy or debt then somehow default and recover by raising internal interest rates very high.

Certainly it looks like the world trade in currencies will be one of the first victims of unwinding the global fractional banking systems.

Maybe we will see the worldwide imposition of "official" exchange rates that are a ludicrous along with heavy internal interest rates to keep the value of the money inside the region.

I'm way out on a limb here but my guess is this.

The US central bank pauses interest rates or decreases them slowly to allow the housing boom mainly to unwind. Then when serious inflation kicks in we will go to a externally fixed exchange rate and really jack up the interest rates internally.  This is the only way I can think of to accomplish the double task of writing off external debts on one hand and keeping control of your internal economy.

See this

I'm certianly way way beyond anything I know about so
please correct any mistakes.

"I'm thinking that the Chinese have a powerful motive for crashing the US economy"

It might be the other way around.  We got China rev'n at about 10,000 RPM, Everything humming.  MILLIONS of chinese are leaving the country side to work in the city, BUY A CAR ! The Good life, Movin on up...

Then, The Fed, CB's pull the plug and China/India implodes.
Massive civil unrest in those countries.  

Yes, the US population will take it on the Chin.  But As WE all know(and the people pulling the strings know) that everyone is going to take it on the chin in ANY case.

So, Position your troops around the ME, and Collapse at the last minute.

Remember the Federal Reserve is OWNED by the BOE, Rothchilds, and others.  

They PLANNED on driving the car into the wall at 80mph.  Look at the things the last few years.  The tax breaks for the rich since 2000, inheritence tax, etc were done so the Right People could Cash OUT before this happens.

Patriot act, everything is geared for the car to hit the wall.  Why do you think they didn't go the conservation route?  

Watch the Movie "Payback" with Mel Gibson.  The scene where he gets into the car, (Puts a mouth protector in) and then drives 50 mph down an alley and drives HEAD-ON into another car. ON PURPOSE!  He then gets out and robs the guys who he just crashed head-on into.  

You see he KNEW he was going to crash,  ON PURPOSE.

These guys Knew we were going to crash anyway, so how do you set it up to hurt the other guys more than it does you?  Tax breaks, kickbacks, Pork Barrel stuff to let your rank and file(the VERY rich) cash out FIRST. Do you really think the VERY VERY rich are going to be hurt that bad?  Folks like Gates,Rainwater, Rockefellers, etc?

Look at the inverse logic.  

If things are like they are,  What would have motivated them to make them this way.  Look at it as if the major plot lines ARE working correctly.

China is toast.

random thoughts.  

Is China toast or are we toast in the ever continueing resource wars?? If you take a close look at how much closer the ME is to China versus the USA, you'd see just how screwed the US is if a long term war was to be engaged.. The US supply lines would have to reach over 10000 miles versus the Chinese of a couple of thousand..  
There has been no lack of irrational behaviour pre-peak.  Maybe things will get better once the waxed wings melt.  Maybe not.  Besides how can we know the future.  We have no facts, no observations.  We don't even know the past very well despite abundant facts and observations.

I look forward to tomorrow.

I'd love to see any formal economic study on what would happen if oil production peaked and then scenarios on different decline rates, say 2 % - 15 %.

That would be a real interesting read.

And by formal, I mean no Kunstler-like flesh eating zombie ramblings. A real study made by real economists who understansd what this is all about.

"real economists who understansd what this is all about"

That'll cut down the field of applicants.

Yeah, I know! :D

That's why I put in that very sentence.

But if I want such a study I'll probably have to do it my self as my graduation work (I am not sure what that's called in English, the big final paper you write to complete your degree).

Frankly, Starvid, I think you're barking up the wrong tree.  Economics is just too wedded to the concept of infinite substitution and limited by a framework modelled on Newtonian physics.  

If you are going to give it a try though, make sure you read Georgescu-Roegen, described by Samuelson as the 'economist's economist' (and then promptly ignored).

I am not an economist, nor studiying to become one (it's more of a politics/economy/civil service slant). But that doesn't mean I won't choose economics as my main subject (I might).

But it seems the whole energy economics field is so incredibly shallow and underdevolped in spite of being the most important field of economics, which means there should be good opportunites to do some original work no one has done before. I mean, just look at the insane forecasting done by the IEA, Yergin et al. Ok, forecasting is really damn hard, but couldn't they explore different scenarios instead of just saying "this is gonna happen" (and then be spectacularly wrong?)?

And it should be fun. And important too.

I mean, what happens when oil reaches $150? When oil was $20 everyone "knew" the eoconomy would swiftly go into recession at $40. Now they say that'll happen at $100. When we hit $100 they will say $150...

What will happen with LNG? Will we get a global gas market? How will this affect things? What about disruptive technologies like PHEV's? What should be the role of the state in the energy field? Free market, state planning, or something in between (à la dirigisme)?

Lot's of interesting and important questions. Sure, I'd love to be a petroluem or nuclear engineer, but it's just to much math. Economist and civil servants do math too, but not as much and not as complex.

And civil servants can actually affect things in the real world (you just have to manipulate your minister... ;).

Yergin et al represent the dominant economic paradigm. The forecasts they make are logical from the perspective of what they accept as information.  

I don't think anyone can picture the future of the human economy.  There are too many variables.  So I lend little credence to the undisciplined meanderings of the doomers, and even less to the predictable forecastings of the boomers.

Think for a moment of obesity.  Is it going to overrun and bankrupt health care systems around the world, or not?

Is expensive fuel going to lead to mass starvation or to the end of monoculture, the widespread adoption of polyculture with a consequent improvement in food quality and soil quality and the rebirth of a vibrant rural life?

Will the failure of the financial system mean disaster or a reallocation of opportunity?

I think E.O. Wilson makes a good case in his book 'Consilience' that the bioligical perspective should dominate our worldview.  I tend to agree.  Biology and geology are closely linked historically, especially when you consider the liberating idea of deep time as discovered by the great geologist, James Hutton, and the impact of this idea on Darwin.

You can't know the future, but you can prepare for it. That is a common refrain.  I agree with it.  Prepare your kit.  Just make sure it includes the most valuable ideas.  I hope you don't forget that survival for human beings has always required social skills.

Will the failure of the financial system mean disaster or a reallocation of opportunity?
You nailed in in one simple sentence. Think of it this way the dinosaurs lasted for millions of years but there not here now. A event caused a reallocation opportunity. Bad for the dinosaur good for us. My opinion is peak oil and the accompanying financial collapse will be met with re-localization of the economy along of course with a far more efficient use of the remaining energy resources.

I'm not really a doomer honest I'm just pointing out that if the American populace allow the neocons and wealthy to control this reallocation opportunity they won't get the best deal possible.

I wouldn't worry too much about this. People will only take so much. Then they storm the Bastille.
Starvid, Stuart did a wonderful piece on the preliminaries (from a production and societal perspective) a while back, but I can't find it.
The preliminaries? Like in the US election system, or do you mean something else?

I think common sense is enough to understand that in a economy where the fundamental driver i.e oil supply decreases every year that life will be tough and get tougher.

You don't need a degree in economics to understand a failing economy. In fact there have been to date only two places in the world that have ever had a stable economy for any length of time. That's the Nile river valley and the Yellow and Yangtze river valleys in China.

A recent addition to this list but a member non the less is the Ohio/Mississippi Valley drainage it will probably support a decent population for thousands of years.

The Mekong and Indus could also be argued as members.
And yes there are far more rivers in the world that
can and probably have supported civilizations generally
I'd argue they haven't been met the stability critera
for one reason or another the Amazon for example is not
stable. For Europe the Po river valley is a contender.

In any case anyone with any grasp if history can easily say there are only a few places that can ever be sustainably support civilization and its the worlds major river systems.

That's it. No where else in the world have we ever created a large sustainable civilization in all cases we have lived on depletion of resources and discovery of new resources.

Europe has been at it for thousands of years and in general the reason European history dominates and from them American is because they created military driven growth based economies.

I don't think it takes a degree in economics to answer your question.

What's the only stable civilization supporting economy.
Agriculture in a major river valley.
Where are the only places that civilization has endured for the last 5,000 years.
The major river valleys of the world.

All other economies and civilizations have simply exploited resources till they became un-economic and eventually failed. At best large natural seaports have also been succesful but generally the most important are along major rivers.

I'd love to hear the input of a economist but you don't need it we all know the only place you can have a stable civilization we learned this in grade school. 10,000 years from now as long as these rivers flow there will be civilizations in these valleys. This is the real economy everything else is just partying till some resource is exhausted.

The Rhine, Danube, Ebro, Targus also all do fine. But sustainability isn't the only requirement for actual survival. Invasion is a constant risk for river valley societies, and sometimes comes in genocidal form. Then there are plagues.
It took almost half an hour to find an optimistic post. Not that I fault others for sounding otherwise. We need to hear some bad news if we have any chance of changing our behavior.  Forecasts on this site about peek oil could be wrong - though for me
its easier to believe than not. Global warming could be wrong - though I don't discount it. But what made me so frustrated during the little debate we had during the last few elections about global warning was that we could have listed 5 other reasons we should have reduced the consumption of fossil fuels (objective different - result the same) and allowed the Europeans to do the same for the "wrong reason".

I guess maybe I should list 5 good reasons now!

  • Conserve oil for the next generation as a raw material for energy saving products. After all the next energy sources we find may not be limitless or cheap either.

  • Do we want to be so dependent on a resource that is so concentrated in one geographic area.

  • And a issue that is especially of concern in cities is how our health is affected by the "old" pollutants that result from burning fossil fuels despite all of the efforts to minimize those over the last 30 years.

  • Okay this might be hard sale but it is true in may case. When you are considering the price of fuel or trying to do the patriotic duty and you want to go 4 blocks, you/I might now walk.

  • This comment (and the last one as well) would make more sense in the past tense if we can assume that our leaders in agreeing to reduce consumption while the apparent cost of the fuel was low would have decided that the most important thing they could do to promote energy conservation was to increase gasoline taxes (maybe then you spend political capital - or if you don't want to spend political capital you lower income taxes at the same time). Anyway, one reason it isn't enjoyable to drive is that there are too many cars on the roads. If fuel is higher people like me take the train - or others car pool - others buy cars you can see over and that get over 25 miles to the gallon - others shop in their hometown and some people do a little of all of the above. But it all adds up to contributing to freeing up the highway so that we all can get from point A to B in a faster and a safer - enjoyable way.

As someone seemed to say - things will self correct to a point. Its too bad we haven't done more up until now. But higher prices and the thought of even higher prices should help motivate us now. You know when you are filling up the car and pulling out
the wallet that you will think fondly of the old days of lower prices, but when you set back and think with your macro economics hat on you understand that even if you wouldn't use more if prices were lower (yea sure) there are others (we don't need to identify) that would use twice as much.

Anyway this post has got too long. But I would like to invite anyone to visit the following page on my web site. Estimating what the Crude Oil Demand Could be for the US Transportation Sector in Ten Years if We Make a Concerted Effort to Conserve I'll give you the punch line. We could reduce consumption of Crude oil to about 4% of what we use today. Of course the numbers used are subjective but I would welcome feedback that will perhaps make them more realistic. But the reason this number could become so low is that we started at such a bad place.

Yes if you want to be optimistic you could say we are starting!

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane
I was the smudge of ashen fluff, and I
Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky
Comrade SR,

The tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth: STAY - ON - TOPIC.

Still, while we're at it, here's a citation from the same author that might interest a literary type like yourself:

"Alas! In vain historians pry and probe:
The same wind blows, and in the same live robe
Truth bends her head to fingers curved cupwise;
And with a woman's smile and a child's care
Examines something she is holding there
Concealed by her own shoulders from our eyes."

[Philosophers talk about theory being underdetermined by the data, but poets have an even better way of putting it.]

Re: HO's That is why I am more concerned with production rates than I am with the amount that will ultimately be recovered from a reservoir

Our agreement on this point is complete. Talk of reserves revisions only sows confusion. It is another manifestation of the Cornucopian fallacy that refuses to acknowledge limits to growth and replaces skeptical reason with unquestioning faith in technology & markets. Reserves must grow; if they do not, consumption is bounded. This is the essence of the CGES report.

CERA's latest report does this by fantasizing about productive capacity instead of discussing reasonable expectations for actual production.

By their bullshit ye shall know them.


You write:

Talk of reserves revisions only sows confusion. It is another manifestation of the Cornucopian fallacy...

I'm not a Cornucopian -- in fact, like toilforoil, I'm a Georgescu-Roegenist -- and yet I talk of reserves revisions and do not (I believe) sow confusion.

Refusal to address the issue of 'reserve growth' and to muddy the waters by hindcasting / backdating estimates  -- that's what really sows confusion. Depletion is of course a reality but the depletion rate has de facto remained more or less constant for many years. The fact that this appeals to Lomborg and other party animals is regrettable but does not alter its truth content.

Until it can be demonstrated that the depletion rate is about to skyrocket (e.g. from 1/40 to 1/30) very few educated people are going to be convinced that peak oil is imminent, that it is just around the corner -- that it is, so to speak in the pipeline. To date no such demonstration has been made, at least not in any of the peer-reviewed literature I have been able to find.

Since you are spreading confusion here, I'll respond.

Re: 1/40

Where did you get that? Even CERA assumes double that, 5%. Has remained more or less constant for years? What are talking about?

Reserves revisions are meaningless until you are well into the tail end of production. As HO points out, Abqaiq was revised at this point -- downward. So you see, I can talk about reserve revisions too.

Peer-reviewed literature? What are talking about again? This is the oil business we're talking about here. This ain't the Journal of Paleontology.

Good God.


The debate on the distinction between (a) the increase in recoverable oil due to the discovery of new oil reservoirs and (b) the increase due to technological progress in extracting oil from already-discovered reservoirs is almost beside the point.

From the `peak oil' perspective it is irrelevant whether oil is `discovered' in the physical sense or whether a new technology is `discovered' for extracting more of the oil whose physical presence has already been ascertained   --  the impact on the shape of the Hubbert curve is exactly the same because the impact on extraction and effective demand is exactly the same.  

In fact, albeit inadvertently, Planet Earth has at least up to now been in compliance with its own `globalised' version of  ASPO's Oil Depletion Protocol:

"No planet shall produce oil at above its current Depletion Rate, such being defined as annual production as a percentage of the estimated amount left to produce."

[I've changed one word - the original version runs : "No country shall produce oil ...]

The crux of the matter is not how additions are made to URR estimates but whether such additions can continue to be made in the future and how rapidly the decline in such additions will set in.

Had the CGES report mentioned that a large part of their assumed increase in reserves came from a re-evaluation of the amount that could be recovered from existing fields then it would have painted a different picture than the one that they implied.

Super Nafta.

With all my posts sorry one more thing and its way way off the topic of depletion but it helps me close out one last issue I had with the overall aspects of depletion and the US's response.

Now I finally understand this SuperNafta thing I never could grasp the reason behind it. But if you assume all the concepts that I presented in my other posts basically that the US was planning withdrawing its currency as the world standard and revert back to a local economy then it makes tons of sense.

Canada is obvious but Mexico was a question. Now I understand.
The US gets two things from Mexico oil even with the collapse of Cantrell there are still significant deap water deposits and others that can be exploited. And if the Mexican economy tanks there is probably more for export.

Next it provides the US with a group of willing cheap labor that will allow it to drop real wages to maximize profit margins in the new shrunken economy.

It creates a pretty large block of economic control for the new closed dollar.

And last but not leas even easier land access to Venzuela for the oil there plus almost certianly a larger body of willing men to enter our army. We are going to need a pretty large army going forward.

During the American Civil war this was accomplished in the North via the open immigration policy and litterly drafting men as the left the boats.

A simple policy would be to grant any Mexican US citizenship if they serve in our armed forces.

It has happened 6.html+Mexican+citizen+US+army&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=8

Crazy yes for sure.

Does it make sense ?
To me it does now.

> even with the collapse of Cant(a)rell there are still significant
> deap (sic) water deposits and others that can be exploited

Stu - can we declare a moratorium on the use of the word "significant" except in the strictly quantified statistical sense? Just a thought :)

Mexico has no replacement for Cantarell. It may have some enticing deepwater prospect maps, but anyone can draw those. It has no Cantarell-class reservoir (or even any reservoir an order of magnitude smaller - which would still constitute a giant field) under development. So there's no way PEMEX is going to plug the million barrel per day gap that is going to open up in the next three years or so. - the fact that X isn't present in a document you find on the internet isn't proof that X doesn't exist, but it's difficult to keep a million barrel per day development hidden from the trade press in the current overheated climate. Look at all the fuss over Noxal.

> And last but not leas(t) even easier land access to Ven(e)zuela for the oil there

Have you ever travelled outside the USA? Or opened an atlas? Looky here:

Dunno why that didn't linkify - cut & paste it into your browser. Anyway, see that thin bit? It's called the Darien Gap. Hint: Don't Go There. And Uncle Sam has boots on the ground in Colombia anyway. And weren't we going to do Iran first? Hopefully the grown-ups will be back in charge by then.

Mexico has no replacement for Cantarell. It may have some enticing deepwater prospect maps, but anyone can draw those. It has no Cantarell-class reservoir (or even any reservoir an order of magnitude smaller - which would still constitute a giant field) under development. So there's no way PEMEX is going to plug the million barrel per day gap that is going to open up in the next three years or so.
I did not say that it would cover Cantarell. To be explicit Mexico's potential oil production possibilities in the gulf may be greater then our own. When Cantarell goes there is a pretty good chance that Mexico would cease to be a large exporter of oil. We would really like to ensure that any deep water drilling was done to send oil to the US not Mexico. So yes its enticing.
It's called the Darien Gap. Hint: Don't Go There. And Uncle Sam has boots on the ground in Colombia anyway. And weren't we going to do Iran first? Hopefully the grown-ups will be back in charge by then.
I looked this up.

Darien Gap

It seems to me that yes building a road through there is hard but that generally environmental concerns is the main reason for not doing it. Given where we build roads I can't see that anything close to solid land is a obstacle.

Finally if the US controls the Orinco deposits and the Canadian tar sands plus all our coal we are in very good shape post peak. The overall economics of localization point to a unified US/Mexican/Canadian union as being a very good economic block. The frontier of this region would be South America ( I'm assuming the rest of Central America would be absorbed to get the Panama canal. ) The biggest resource of interest there is the Orinoco oil deposits.

The next one down the list would be sugar cane growing in Columbia and out into Brazil and generally through the whole region to increase ethanol production.

I don't see anything wrong with this scenario it creates a economic block rich in resources and materials and technology. The rest of South America offers a region that can be expanded into either via economic or military incentives.

Finally the world I'm talking about is quite different from today it will have a large population of people jobless and facing starvation and a need for a large amount of cheap labor to replace oil.

Finally as far as Iran goes I really believe the main goal is to get the US to reinstate the draft. The draft is needed to get America back on track for further military action. And we need a draft if there is any hope of stabilizing Mexico and making it a American partner. We have to get are military back on war footing and the war against terrorism did not meet that end.

If the US does take the route of localization of its economy then we will need to go back to colonialism but with the restriction that long distance ship travel is prohibitive. The only place we can really expand is down.

Not sure at all about your last sentence about grown-ups is that a insult ? Are you referring to some country ? A change in the US government I don't get it.

the simple fact that you purpose to cut down all the rain-forest in Brazil to make ethanol shows your childishness.
the rest is just pure speculation, if anything all the people in power care about is staying in power and to get richer. i seriously doubt they care one iota about the welfare of anyone to the point that your plan implys.

Don't forget massive coal fired electric plants. Massive coal to gas conversion. Nuclear plants to process the oil shales and canadian tar sands. Straining our current croplands for ethanol. Finicial games to initate a massive drop in wages and brinkmanship in the worlds money markets. Cutting down the rain forest in the Amazon is not that bad. Plus if we don't do it Brazil will.

There is nothing childish about the potential responses those currently in power will take to retain there power.

I thought I pointed out several times that I think the wealthy and powerful would rather have a economy where the vast majority of the people had a choice between starvation or working for just enough pay to eat and have some shelter.
I don't consider this to mean there intrested in our welfare.

I think your missing the point understand that even with everything I'm suggesting at best your controlling 50% of the energey resources we consume now more like 10%. Overall we might have 25% of the fuel resources we have access to today. Can you imagine what it will be like when every year you lose 10% of your energy ?

If anything I think my projections are tame in a world thats post peak it could very easily be far worse. Remember there are a lot of nuclear weapons still floating around.

If you don't like my conjectures then get the american public to wake up to the real challenges we face in a post peak world.

Consider this lets say I make 100,000 dollars and every year
I suffer 10% depletion of my salary.
So you have

In only eight years you make half of your original income.
How would you handle this personally ?

1.) Kill the guy next to me and take his 100k but he only has 20k on him at any one time so a 80k is lost as a penalty for killing my neighbor not only do I not lose money but it will be 1 year till I'm back to were I was originally and I just need to find another chump between now and then. If I kill 10 a year I'm making good money even during decline.

2.) Default on debts and change my life style to a slightly simpler one each year as I have less money.

3.) Default as above but go immediately to a lifestyle that only requires 10,000 dollars to sustain and invest 90,000 in a way of living that gives  10,000 dollars a year in profit so I break even. Each year you wait the stabilization level decrease by 10 percent so if you decide to take 3 the second year you stabilize not at 10,000 but at 9,000.

The real solution is to go strait two three and you every extra penny to reestablish a sustainable lifestyle.
No one will do 2 long its a obvious losing proposition.

The whack your neighbor approach is very very tempting.

In a declining economy those are your three basic choices at the personal level all the way up through the government.
There are no others ( Somebody prove me wrong here )

Right now Americans are taking the second choice under the assumption that the current situation is temporary this won't last for long since its clearly a losing proposition.

The neocons and wealthy want to take the whack the neighbor approach since it maintains the status quo.

The final point is that the moment you realize your in depletion and next year is going to be worse then this year  forever you have no choice but to immediately adopt one of these approaches or a mix.  As another poster pointed out its and opportunity to reallocate resources and I might add you can't opt out. Also in case 3 you only have a limited amount of time to make the decision or your going to have to play whack the neighbor with a vengeance to get the resources to be stable. So if I'm right about the rules then
the only way out without significant pain is to immediately power down. Any hesitation and you will have no choice but to eliminate quite a few of your neighbors before you can even power down.

We only have small window of opportunity to handle peak oil in a humane and dignified manner any hesitation and you will have practically no choice but seize enough resources to execute a power-down. I assure you it will be far far harder to power-down post peak then it would be before.

I know I've splattered posts everywhere in this thread but Its only recently that I've realized full significance of the peak and the initial post peak time period.

What do you do if you decide to do #3, but your neighbor decides to do #1?

It seems like #3 will work only if everyone cooperates and also takes a powerdown approach.

About the only reason the meek will inherit the earth is they happened to be ducking at the right time.
ducking at the right time.

My guess is that this is the only realistic policy for the times to come.
A little problem is, there is no guarantee it will always succeed, it also takes a bit of luck!
Any too proactive solution seeking is likely to bring upon you the very plagues you are trying to evade.
Example: stockpiling food and weapons.

No (personal) insult intended old chap - all articulate posts that actually make a logical argument are welcome. I found your aside on riverine civilizations fascinating.
Hardly worth harping on about, but Mexico to Venezuela overland is about 2400km. That's about the same as Italy to Iran. The Caribbean is bigger than most folk think.

Yeah its quite the hike but I buy into the need for electric trains in the future for transport so overland routes will be vital in the future.
In the past week here in Perth, Western Australia, we had Richard Heinberg give a sold-out talk to about 400 people the evening after a sold-out Chris Skrebowski lunch for 200 business people and government bureacrats. Chris also spoke to 2 of our 3 political parties here and his lunches in other states are also sold out. While in Sydney ASPO Aust arranged for him to speak to the Australian Reserve Bank (equivalent of US Fed) and QANTAS, our national airline.

Tomorrow the Australian version of 60 Minutes has a show on 'peak oil'(

"Running on Empty- You're about to hear two of the scariest words in the English language -- "peak oil". Effectively, they mean the end of the world as we know it. The point where oil production reaches its absolute peak; the point when supplies start running out. And the doomsayers are convinced we're almost there. So, if you think paying $100 to fill your tank is painful, I hate to tell you, this is as good as it gets. It'll get worse, much worse. Two dollars plus per litre by Christmas for a start. Naturally, the oil companies say stay calm. We'll be right for a 100 years at least. But then they would, wouldn't they?"

Maybe they will sell it to the US and European shows?

Finally, our main public TV station follows up its peak oil show with one on Monday on coal fired power stations and global warming (What Price Global Warming?

I dont know why all of this focus in one week- must be a conspiracy? :)

Hold the front page! Our energy problems are solved!

Lakes of hydrocarbons found on Titan

The Cassini spacecraft, using its radar system, has discovered very strong evidence for hydrocarbon lakes on Titan. Dark patches, which resemble terrestrial lakes, seem to be sprinkled all over the high latitudes surrounding Titan's north pole.
The abundant methane in Titan's atmosphere is stable as a liquid under Titan conditions, as is its abundant chemical product, ethane, but liquid water is not. For all these reasons, scientists interpret the dark areas as lakes of liquid methane or ethane, making Titan the only body in the solar system besides Earth known to possess lakes.

The really neat thing is, this will give the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station something useful to do. They can start building interplanetary LPG supertankers.

This has certainly been an interesting thread, and not full of sound bites, but with some long meaty posts that get into some real detail, not sound bite stuff!  Good deal!  :-)

It has however, been vexing in places.  Let me tackle one or two things that could cause confusion, especially since they have been discussion we have had here in the last few days:

1.  It has been with interest that I have noticed many "thinkers" on the Peak Oil subject in this string of posts have distanced themselves from any concern about OOIP (Original Oil In Place), URR (Ultimate Recoverable Reserves), and in fact, seem to have dismissed the issue of Recovery Factor (as a percent of the original oil in place) altogether.

This comes as a bit of a shock, in that my original understanding of Hubbert Linearization was that the stats were based very directly on URR and what Westexas and others often state as the fundamental importance of 1/2 Qt  or one half total quantity.  This would mean that OOIP and URR would be absolutely crucial if one uses any version close to Hubbert Linearization (HL)  This is very clear in such charting and graphing as is found for example at such TOD strings as
 "A Different Way to Perform the Hubbert Linearization"

Note the key importance of URR.  Without this, I have trouble finding a statistical scientific leg for "peak oil" dating and estimation to stand on.

Are some folks at TOD distancing from the mathematical underpinnings of HL?  If so, this reduces the value of the charts and graphs.  I am one of the worst algebra students you can imagine, but the one equation I can easily solve is  "solve for X, where X is unknown.....   X+X+X=(guess what?)...X

If I assume the original amount of oil did not matter, and the amount that can be extracted from that original amount does not matter, (since in so many cases, both numbers have been and are moving targets, and were unknown to begin with), then the only thing I have left to work with is daily production  (which by the way, in many cases is not actually known).  The issue  with daily production is that it can be turned up and down by human/political/economic  based decisions, and has very little to do with geology, unless you are at peak, in which case it cannot be turned up, butt only down...daily production, until peak time, is a function of much, much more above ground than below ground, and can rise and fall on a whim.  It is useless as a predicting tool, this was the mistake made in the 1970's.

No discussion of fields found but for some reason not developed (our recent long discussion of Khurais in Saudi Arabia comes to mind, now being billed as possible 1.2 million barrel per day field of light sweet crude, to be developed for production before 2010 (some say by 2007.  See the depletion of Abqaiq string

Khurais may never deliver a thousand barrels a day.  But it points out that the linkage between "discovery" and "production" is very tenous indeed.  This is even more true in places where oil is easier to find than to produce such as the arctic or deep offshore, or production has been impacted by legislation ( such as OCS Outer Continental Shelf).

2.  Once again, much of the discussion indicates that many see "peak" as running out".  There are discussions of war, murder,  and so little oil in the world that even heavy freighter ships will not be functional ("the end of long distance heavy shipping")  This is almost unbelievable that anyone could conjecture such a scenario based on "peak oil" as the real issue exists.  

First, I will quote someone with, I assume, the strongest possible "Peak Oil" credentials, Matt Simmons:
"At peak, the world will not be "running out." Indeed, more than half the world's conventional oil and a larger share of its unconventional oil will remain to be extracted. . What the world is running out of is cheap oil, the $20 oil we built our civilization around. Suggesting that there are no insurmountable problems for the oil industry above or below ground and that a return to inexpensive oil and orderly oil markets is in the cards is a fool's forecast"

The worst case scenario, Hubbert's Peak,
Peak by 2010 (although the newest charts have pushed the peak further into the future a bit and broadened the top, this one was made in 2004 and has been corrected by ASPO and Campbell), shows as much oil being produced in 2025 as was being produced in 1985, and as much being produced in 2050 as in 1970.  This is even without biofuels, RR's bio-butanol, solar, wind, LPG and natural gas conversion for liquid or as transport fuel, etc.

 (short factoid, long known:  The issue of "Peak Oil" is MUCH more an issue of waste and consumption than lack of production.  The amount produced, EVEN in the worst case scenarios throughout the rest of the centurly still is mind boggling.  The problem is, the amount we want to consume is COMPLETELY INSANE!!

Now this will be a very serious issue, so much so that along with environmental issues, these are the "big issues" for the better half of the upcoming century, if not all of it.  It will be nation threatening, and bring down powers that be, and force a HUGE SHIFT in thinking about energy, production, and consumption.  BUT, please think for a moment:
Heavy long distance cargo ships are the SINGLE most efficient way to move material, and for that matter people if they have to ride them.  They use less oil per ton mile of transport than any other form of transport. Only possibly wind powered ships are more sustainable, and these cannot carry nearly as much dependably.  Of all the fossil fuel devices of mankind, the first to succeed was cargo ships, and it will certainly be the absolute last to die.  They can be powered by the absolute shiitiest of oil, heavy dirty oil....they could come closest to digesting raw tar sand oil, or heavy tars, or the HEAVIEST of crude oils, even used and waste oil.

To believe that any remnent of modern fossil fuel culture would outlast heavy oil powered cheap cargo shipping displays a complete misunderstanding of how oil is used in the world, and how much will still be around for the rest of the century, peak oil or not.

great southern uses the words "the point when supplies start running out.", as the way the discussion of peak oil is being billed in Australia's press.

:-(  sigh....the primitivist fantasy has surely taken over....a world soon to be filled with fairy tale castles, and pretty maidens riding white stallions, with happy spinners of beautiful clothe being the heaviest of industry, working peacably spinning gold from straw in the tower of the castle...and of course there will be fairies in this "Midsummer Night's Dream".....all remnents of science, that devil's tool, will soon fade away.....

Roger Conner known to you as ThatsItImout


Just an intuitive stab at this question of OOIP and URR :

Hubbert linearization is a predictive tool. If the concensus is that we have actually hit world peak (and are teetering on top of it), then the rest is literature... we may never know the real numbers, and it won't matter a heck of a lot.

Or maybe they are still central questions, and it's just that we're seized with vertigo as we contemplate the downslope.


You write:

Hubbert linearization is a predictive tool.

The question is whether it is always a good one. Take, for example, the immortal Deffeyes. I've just been taking a close look at his HL-rendering of cumulative world production ('Beyond Oil', page 46.) The straight line hits the x-axis at 2 Trillion Barrels -- i.e. URR = 2 000 000 000 barrels of oil, just to spell it out.

That's fine until we read the small print under the graph:

On this graph, the abrupt reserve increases reported in most OPEC nations during the 1980s have been subtracted out. Also, at the end of 2002, Oil & Gas Journal abruptly added 175 billion barrels of reserves in the Canadian tar sands, which are not included here ...

Deffeyes simply factors out any oil that doesn't so to speak, toe the Hubbertian line. What 'peaked' on Thanksgiving last year wasn't oil -- it was oil as defined by Deffeyes .

But, his definition is pretty reasonable, especially with respect to the opec reserve additions, which very few at tod believe. SA could say they have a trillion barrels - would you add these to urr?
Regarding oil sands, the oil is there, no doubt.  The question is how much is recoverable and where the energy will come to recover it, whether canada will permit increases in co2 emissions, and at what speed planned projects will come on line - most seem to be delayed.  If this resource ends up developed in, say 2020, it will not contribute to peak, which may or may not have occurred on or around thanksgiving, 2005.  
Roger, I seem to remember you talking about a lighweight EV using a genset as a range extender. Have you seen this yet?

The QED supports an all-electric range of 200-250 miles and has a total range of about 932 miles (1,500 km). The car accelerates from 0-62 mph in less than 5 seconds.

The Mini however is no longer any lightweight - but imagine this technology (in-wheel motors, li-ion battery pack + genset) in a lightweight carbon-fiber package...


I had not seen this one, thank heading out to work, but will check it out more, it looks right up my alley :-), thanks again!

Roger Conner  knonw to you as ThatsItImout

First my suggestion is that you try to calculate the peak of production from first principles and see if it agrees with hubbert linearization. By first principles I mean you make the following assumptions.

1.) You know the geometric size of the field.
2.) You know how many wells could drilled and the rate there
3.) You have a reasonable guess at the production profile for a well in the field.

That's sufficient to determine the peak in production.
Hubbert linearzation is in my opinion doing this by picking the points off the graph where production stabilizes to get URR. The problem is there is a disconnect between the hubbert analysis and the basic physical process of depletion
I don't know how to explain except to say in physics you have plenty of high level theories thermodynamics for example but its not until you work backwards and explain the basic physics stat thermo that you can prove your theory has a firm scientific basis. My above proposal is exactly the same thing you would do to derive the laws of thermodynamics from the statistical behavior of a gas.

As far as concern surrounding the peak you better be very concerned.

If the demand is higher then the supply the price will increase until the demand drops to zero.

Our economic institutions do not deal well with scarcity.

Economically scarcity is of huge concern.
Next the realization that a resource is not only scarce today but will become even more scarce makes matter worse.

The market goes into contango

Now to bunker fuel.
First your dismissing the overall transportation problem.
Between the two ports there is a vast web of transport required to move the goods from the factory to the home.
I agree that the cost of the ocean transport leg may be the cheapest but the the price of all the legs have to be low
to make it economically viable. In the US at least were heavily dependent on long haul trucking to distribute goods from the ports throughout the country.

Next your assuming the historical price for bunker fuel will continue to be low post peak I can't believe you make this argument.

The peak in light sweet crude seems to already be behind us the plan going forward is to refine all these heavy oils into gasoline and diesel. This means that near or shortly after the peak in oil production there will be no cheap bunker fuel and shipping will be competing for the same oil
used for gasoline.

Maybe someone can post the bunker charges over the last few years they may be the single best evidence for depletion we have.

In any case the moment refiners start to refine more of this
stuff to get gasoline and diesel fractions I think the price will increase dramatically. I certainly would not use the historical prices for bunker fuel to predict its price post peak.

Full steam ahead The rising cost of shipping fuel is causing more and more shipowners and commodity merchants to consider risk management strategies, and some sophisticated marine fuel trades are taking place as a result, writes Barry Parker The price of marine - or bunker - fuel comprises up to 60% of a shipping company's overheads, and is the most volatile component within its balance sheet. Some 150 million tonnes (MT) of bunker fuel (the name of which harks back to the coal bunkers on early steamers) are consumed globally each year, according to World Fuel Services, a leading supplier and broker. With each fuel price spike, interest has grown in managing the fuel price risk and the use of derivatives is increasing. The bunker fuel oil derivatives market is now worth more than $60 billion a year with as many as 25,000 transactions taking place annually, according to maritime derivatives exchange Imarex, which launched bunker fuel oil derivatives contracts in December 2005.
I think the cost of bunker fuel is very important its the base of our global economy. In fact if the first indicator that we have peaked will probably be skyrocketing costs for bunker fuel. Most info seems to be behind paywalls. But if somone can find out lets see if its not risen dramatically in the last few years and consider its economic impact on the world. In fact we probably should have been tracking the bunker fuel prices all along because depletion should translate into more cracking to gasoline and diesel with less bunker fuel avialable.
Yeah but the point is, when real scarcity strikes, bunker fuel will be favoured ahead of personal transport fuels.

Simple supply and demand. In fact, bunker fuel constitutes an infinitesimal fraction of the sales price of the final product. It can double or triple and have a barely-perceptible effect on the quantities transported. Meanwhile, when petrol prices triple, demand destruction becomes an important factor...

... and the percentage of crude oil allocated to producing bunker fuel increases. People prefer to sell to solvent clients.

You're right about the rest of the transport network, but shipping costs are really the least of the world's PO worries.

I don't have enough information to agree or disagree.
In general I think that the people buying gasoline have deeper pockets and can afford to out bid the shipping lines until the cost of shipping increases a lot. Btw the airlines are in the same boat sooner probably then later many will fail as fuel prices increase and only then will ticket prices rise to reflect the real cost of jet fuel.

My position right now knowing nothing is that scaricty will actually show up first in bunker fuel when we are indeed post peak as more production shifts to gasoline and diesel/ heating fuel for the consumer market. The reason is this is exactly whats happened in the NG market the industrial users leave the market first since there business becomes uneconomical.

For now this is just opinion since so far all the sources for information about bunker fuel prices has been behind pay-walls. I'll continue to look for public information and I ask anyone that does know say the past seven years of bunker fuel prices to please post. Also it would be great to see if  any outright shortages have developed. Are ships sitting at dock waiting for fuel ?

Considering we have the technology to turn asphalt into gasoline there is no intrinsic reason for bunker fuel to be widely available if there is pressure in the higher markets.
Again even here I don't have enough information.

If I'm right another market that will get very tight is the asphalt market for example.
Right now I'm of the opinion that the first serious effects of peak oil, real shortages and skyrocketing prices will be in markets that you the "junk" fractions this would be bunker fuel and asphalt for road construction. Maybe others know where these low grad and historically cheap oil products are normally used.

Even I slipped over to talk about sailing ships ;-).  That's because they are neat of course, and not because I think oil fired transport is going away.  Yes, I know cargo ships can run on the heaviest dirtiest oil (someone once said they can run on a 50:50 emulsion of Venezuelan heavy oil and water!).

The primitivist fantasy has it's pull ... at least as we BS on the internets.  I don't know how many here are ready to do 3 on, 6 off, and climb a mast in a cold 3 am gale to haul in sail.

Great, another sailing ship fan! :-)  Hope your a WoodenBoat reader, I can dream for hours there, being an old "inlander", or "farmer" as the the sailors used to call them :-)

On your comments, remember, the future generation of wind powered boats will not need the climbing about and manual labor the old ones did...they aren't quiet as pretty though!  :-)

"Hope your a WoodenBoat reader"

(goes to count) about 30 back issues on the shelf, mostly early ninties. ;-/

I'm skeptical about the new ideas based on sail area to mass considerations.  But heck, all they've got to do is build a sky sail that works for an average oil tanker or container ship and I'll be convinced ...

BTW, a totally awesome (in the true sense of the word) video for folks who want to see what it took to take cargo around the horn in the great age of sail:

Roger, I like a lot your posts, because you always raise good and rational points about the peak oil debate, from a skeptical and perhaps optimist "statuo quo is fine thanks", but I am sorry to tell I lost you completely when you started to elaborate as to why some seem more pessimistic than you... As an example, see a long post yesterday or the last paragraph of the post I am responding.


Per your comments,
"but I am sorry to tell I lost you completely when you started to elaborate as to why some seem more pessimistic than you... As an example, see a long post yesterday or the last paragraph of the post I am responding.

The remarks in those posts are in reference to a philosophical/aesthetic movement, variously called "Primitivism", "Ecological Anarchism", "Green Anarchism", "deep green", and other various names.

Please check out the links below:

The odds of achieving the hoped for dismantling of modern civilization are very high under normal circumstances, given it's world girdling scale and economic and political power.  However, for some, even some very influential voices in the "Peak Oil" movement, the idea of "peak" provides the most promising vehicle yet to achieve the hoped for goals of ending the modern technical age and returning to a more aesthetically/morally perfect "primitive" scale of existance.  See below for instance, that going back to a period before "Peak Oil" per se was a commonly known issue, Richard Heinberg was already discussing and accepted among those who were fans of the "primitivist" cause:

The Primitivist Critique of Civilization
Richard Heinberg
A paper presented at the 24th annual meeting of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, June 15, 1995.

The connection of the "Green" or environmental cause to the "Primitivist" movement makes sense, when considering environmentalism in it's most radical form, and again, the "Peak" issue becomes a vehicle to a future not to be dreaded, but one to be embraced.

This is why I think your terminology, "why some seem more pessimistic than you", is a bit incorrect.

For those who endorse Primitivisim and Ecological orGreen Anarchy, "Peak Oil" is to be regarded as the greatest of all possible gifts, an absolutely sensational once in history opportunity.  Any attempt to mitagate peak oil, or try to reduce it, avoid it, or make it less impactful would the worst of all possible actions, and would serve to destroy the possibility of the future so long waited for.  Thus, those who propose any type of technical or organization change that would preserve the modern way of live are to be regarded as great dangers.  A workable, clean, socially just solution to energy depletion, IF it preserved the modern culture would be objectionable on purely moral/aesthetic grounds.

TOD labels itself as "Discussions about energy and our future."  Given taht the ideas of primitivism are a part of the social philosophical  spectrum, it is only correct that they be considered a part of "our future", and given the right to voice their views.

However, it is extremely, EXTREMELY important that these agendas be recognized for what they are,  and not confused with scientific discussions of geology, physics, energy, and what is and is not technically possible.  They are aesthetic and philosophical positions.

Many newcomers have been easily depressed by confusing the two, and accepting what are deeply held desires with actual technical facts. Remember, there are those who make what are the most Horrible prediction so what they say is SURE TO PASS, because to them, these are not horrible predictions, but instead the dream of a long desired future.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Roger, I know what you are talking about here, but in my opinion, you seem to put all people against growth in the same bag. I am against growth for growth sake, but I don't think I can be labelled as a primitivist, I still have a job very related to the IT world, so I don't I qualify. Also, all of us have an agenda, I think it is wise to recognize that, we can come absolutely ideologically "clean" to debate, so you'll have to accept that everyone is, in some form or another, having an agenda. Regarding primitivist types, and as long as they don't force me to follow their agenda, It's fine with me. This should be a free world, shouldn't be? I myself prefer to only discuss technical matters first, and then engage in other debates (ideological), but I think your attack on that type of thinking was not helping to advance into the "technical debate" you engage so well.


First, allow me to apologize outright if my words have been viewed as an "attack on that type of thinking" as you word it.  If that is the way it was taken, then that is purely a function of my needing to work on my rhetorical skills.

While I don't always agree with the more what I will call for lack of a better phrase "deep peak" (borrowing from the same type terminology as "deep green", meaning  more absolute in their convictions that the event is assured and imminent, and that the outcome will be extremely damaging very fast, and the reaction must indeed by very, very radical in response, and only very radical activism will be appropriate), as I said in my reply to you, I NEVER believe that they should not have their right to speak, write, and get their views all the airing they can...and by the way, I do not for one moment feel they should not be read and paid attention to, in other words, I do NOT view their position as one would for example a completely not tenable philosophy (for example, if someone said there is an energy problem because aliens from outer planets have been coming secretly at night and sucking the oil out of the planet...and after you laugh, do know that there are theories just that strange loose in the world!)....

For example, the speech I linked by Richard Heinberg is not a "bad" speech, and has many useful thoughts in it.....another poster on this string, oilceo, recommended Derrick Jensen, whom I have read in interviews, (I do not have his books right now, as I am a tightwad.  I used to be a book buying addict, and have a house full of them, but found that many of them said exactly the same thing, so I now will not buy a book unless I am convinced it has real and new information  ("Twilight In The Desert" was my last big purchase, and did not disappoint!), I have read Wendell Berry all my life, and find many of the "deeper green" writers of great value (I am "old school, though, with Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" still on shelf, yellowing and worn, bought when I was about 18 at a library surplus sale).

Again, let me try to say what I had hoped to earlier convey:

Those who recognize "deep peak" or deep green" in the predictions of absolute catastrophic outcome which is absolutely assured in occurring, and so no scientific or technical reason that such is assured to occur, but instead see an aesthetic or philosophical agenda and or a "desire" for the event to occur on the posters part, should have the right to point that out.  If the original poster feels that is a misreading of his words, he/she can do as I do, and restate his insistence that that his post and his views have, in his view, been misread/misunderstood, or depicted unfairly.  

In other words, geological issues and other "technical" facts alone can predict almost nothing, someone has to read or infer "predictions", good or bad into them.  

The difference should be clearly understood and watched for, and if the "predictions" are based as much on "agenda" as on the geological facts, this should be allowed to be pointed out.  

Why is this important, and not just a hair splitting academic argument.  Because it affects REAL PEOPLE.   About six months ago, I read a reply on one of the "peak preparedness" sites, by a 24 year old woman.  She said she had read a couple of posts and links on "Peak Oil" and when she understood the implications of what was being said, she spent the next four days crying, deeply depressed, and to the date of her posting had not been able to overcome the deepest depression she had ever known.  For her, her hoped and planned for future was over.  She had just finished college, and now felt her education was useless.  She had no future, no hope of prosperity as she had formerly envisioned it, and was heartbroken.  It was VERY SAD to even read, she was so deep in her sincerity.  

I went back to the posts and sites she linked.  I MUST tell you, they were of the absolute DEEPEST stripe of radical green, deep peak I have ever read anywhere!  (One of them I actually chided here on TOD at that time, that recommended young people learn to plow with cows and mules, and learn to eat insects!!  Of course, it continued on as if ALL energy would be gone immediately, service trucks and ambulances would stop, the grid would collapse in disrepair, the lights would go out,  the army and police would be mobile, and hoards of Mexicans and South Americans would descend into America  (good by Texas A&M!), etc., etc., etc.,...

Now you must believe this is an isolated case, that the lady must have been very ill informed about energy, but MOST people are very ill informed.  If I give them a horrific scenario, and mix in some real science and some big names (Matt Simmons, an OIL INVESTMENT BANKER, believes it!, and T. Boone Pickens, and a Congressman, Roscoe Bartlett!!), people with little knowledge can be easily depressed if not terrified!  

If the person such as the lady in question does NOT KNOW that the writers of what she is reading have a very strong social/aesthetic/philosophical/political agenda, she is left even more in the dark, not understanding that by some, what she most fears is greatly dreamed of and desired, and the information may not be factually correct at all, but has more in common with faith and desire, of an almost religious type of Armageddon or rapture philosophy.

Recently, one of the more interesting sites I have visited has been

The above was linked by someone here at TOD and discusses the "mental health" aspect of Peak Oil.  This to me is a very important site.  This issue must be confronted, and some rationality reestablished.  

But why do I PERSONALLY care so much?  Because, I have been there.  In the late 1970's, I was young, impressionable, and a very good researcher and reader.  Despite the many who now deny it, the belief that the late 1970's energy/economic/geopolitical situation was caused by an absolute decline in energy supply was VERY STRONG, and we were sure that it would NOT get better.  Our future, our dreams of a prosperity, were dead.  Some did not go to college, and certainly did not invest in such things as mutual funds and stock markets.  What would be the point?   Engaging in real life planning was considered idiocy by those who bought in to the "catastrophist theories" of the day.   It was a very dangerous time, the time of the Weather Underground,
the age of  Ted" Kaczynski,  The Unabomber, the ultimate "anti modern" activist, and the formative childhood years of Timothy James McVeigh, who was fascinated even in his youth by "survivalism" seeing only bad news on the horizon.  

Of course for the rest of us more moderate, but deeply influenced by the 1970's fuel crisis we know what happened.  In the 1980's and 1990's those who really believed missed the greatest opportunity for a good life ever presented in the United States of America.  While they hoarded and saved, their friends rode the greatest economic wave in history, to houses the size of  mansions, 12 cylinder cars, vacation homes and college for their children and designer clothes and jewels for their wives and mistresses.  It was the gilded age all over again, 1990 surpassed 1890, as consumption and wealth soared.

I am not defending the above.  But I will say this:  buying into a catastrophe and doom theory DOES matter.  If you are right, you get catastrophe and doom.  But if you are wrong, you get....poverty and lost opportunity, and lose the best years of your life to earn and live at least decently, and plan for your retirement.

I cannot be strong enough in how I say this:  IF the person who is trying to buy me into a catastrophic doom theory based not on fact and science, but instead on a desire and an agenda, I WANT TO KNOW IT. Frankly, many of the theories presented by the most "doom" oriented of the "deep peak" wing, which seems to be overtaking the issue by leaps and bounds, have demonstrated little or no understanding of energy, science, technology, economics, or even human nature in the wild predictions they make.  (and I am not talking here about the real students, the real fact based sources, Matt Simmons comes to mind, as here on TOD does Robert Rainer, Stuart Standiford, Westexas and Heading Out,   among others)

And, I think it is the duty, ABSOLUTE DUTY, to assist the folks like the young lady I referenced above, to understand the DISTINCTIONS.  It could change her life.

"But for a few distinctions, a thousand cities were lost"
French writer, resistance activist, and philosopher Albert Camus, speaking of the birth of W.W.II.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

The fear I've had is that we'll miss preparations for "peak oil" because "peak oil" will fail the "fringe test."  Is this solid science, or a fringe group?  We know what happened on Scarborough Country:

Megan, here`s a drawing from your organization of a planned lifeboat where each home will be smaller than 1,000 square feet and will be built with straw bales, cordwood and stick adobe.  And there will be no driveways, garages, streets, lights, or air-conditioners.  There will be only wood bathroom per home with a composting toilet.

Megan, is it going to really come to that?


You`re preparing for the end of American society as we know it, certainly the end of suburban society, this consumption society, when you say our oil reserves are going to run out in the near future.

First loaded question there, "going to run out in the near future."
Megan answers, "Well, oil isn`t running out."

Megan continues "the fundamental change from a society of cheap and abundant oil, a society that is allowed to grow into the suburbs, to an era of scarce and expensive oil."

point:  Expensive by who's standards?  Essentially we are talking about oil priced the way the rest of the world has priced it for years, not oil that is artificially priced cheaply)

Now is the quote you made, and where it starts to go badly downhill:

"SCARBOROUGH:  Now, according to this month`s cover issue of "Harpers" magazine, titled "Imagine There is No Oil: Scenes from a Liberal Apocalypse," peak oilers say, quote, "Violent chaos will rule after the collapse of oil production, and the oilers` hope is to ride this time out in self-sufficient interim communities they call lifeboats." 

Megan, here`s a drawing from your organization of a planned lifeboat where each home will be smaller than 1,000 square feet and will be built with straw bales, cordwood and stick adobe.  And there will be no driveways, garages, streets, lights, or air-conditioners.  There will be only wood bathroom per home with a composting toilet. 

Megan, is it going to really come to that? 

QUINN:  Well, violence and chaos, that scenario is a possibility. 

Now, notice that the Harpers article returns to the theme, the phrase...""Imagine There is No Oil."  Megan does not reconfront that issue, and so the average viewer assumes the worst, which is bolstered by the extreme radical nature of the preperations discussed.  The preperations actually seem to envision a world of "no oil" not expensive oil, and also no water, no food, and no civil order.

And the grid seems to have failed, no electricity, and where did the natural gas and propane all disappear to?  

I said at the time that the Harper's story, by (a) hooking the peak oil issue to "liberals", a class so hated by many that the word essentially is a slander, and so mistating the issue, the complexity and the scale of the problem, was a horrible blow to mainstream acceptance of Peak Oil in any way, and coming as it did in Harpers, a well respected publication, almost a deadly blow.  I have myself began to avoid the phrase "Peak Oil" in discussions with anyone other than "peak oil" devotees and believers.  It is a deadly phrase.

Notice, Stossel has not even had to open his mouth, but the agenda is already, back to the phrase "running out of oil" despite Megan's  prior clarification
"SCARBOROUGH:  John Stossel, are we running out of oil, and are we facing an apocalypse like "Harpers" claims we are?"

Now, astoundingly, what does Stossel say?  After "I don't think so to the Apocalypse, he says EXACTLY WHAT MEGAN SAID....
"The price is going to go up.  The price is already up."

Now see the hammer blow of repetition (the best tool in education, repetition)  "doomsday scenario",  "doomsday prophesies",  "the end of the suburban American dream as we know it? ", even TYSON SLOCUM, DIRECTOR, PUBLIC CITIZEN`S ENERGY PROGRAM repeats the words "doomsday scenario", meaning the phrase has now come out of almost everyone's mouth.

But then Slocum gives a picture of  a decidedly non doomsday scenario, but do you think anyone is listening by now?   Well, I think we definitely need to change some of our practices to become more sustainable.  Does that entail incredibly radical steps?  Not necessarily.  "mass transit", increase investments in alternative fuels, in electric-powered cars, bigger investments in energy efficiency.

Down the stretch, Stossel converts it to a political fight, having nothing to do with technology or geology, his goal along as he knows NOTHING about geology or technology, but, he knows the American people do not either, as Stossel then embarks on an attack on the hated left/liberals, accusing them of coming to take your money and force you..."what the left is really saying is, "Give us your money.  We will come and forcibly take your money for a Manhattan Project that will invest in some form of cure that we believe in."   This re-attaches "Peak Oil" to the "Liberals" as defined in Harpers, with the belief repeated OVER AND OVER that we "running out of oil" and will have NO OIL,  and then closes with completely UNCHALLENGED assertion,
 STOSSEL:  And in the oil sands of Canada, which last I checked was a friendly country, we have enough, says Shell oil, to fuel America for about 100 years. 

So we opened with "Mad Max" and "nightmare of an apocalyptic scale", repeated the phrase "running out of oil" over and over, and then closed with the Peak Oil community called essentially liars (the Canadian "oil" which no one bothered to point out is NOT oil in any normal sense, and consumes vast amounts of greatly needed natural gas in it's production, making the net amount no where near 100 years  (it would be lucky to be 20 to 30 and this a small volume of the oil we consume. and notice that we are ignoring the environmental issues, because everyone else certainly ignores them).

The Harpers story, and this interview were COMPLETE DEFEATS for any possible depiction of the REALITY of peak oil, a devastating public relations blow, and essentially invalidates the phrase as in any useful at this point.  It was a complete failure of public relations and propaganda, and any, ANY use of the type of "doomsday" scenarios we often see, some of them so over the top that even Peak Oil aware  students and experts are SHOCKED by the wildest and most unprovable assertions often made by the "deep peak" types, that it only serves to reinforce the complete public relations defeat and failure we have already suffered.

Sorry.  But we must realize the truth, and competely change tactics if there is any hope of gaining any real following in the mainstream.  it has been a very, very bad year for those concerned about energy issue.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Well, at least its getting some press. That's more than could be said of it this time last year!
If exchanges like this "innocluate" the public against "peak oil" then it is worse than no coverage.


I agree, and frankly, I think proponents of sensible and sane reduction of fuel consumption and preparedness should stay away from these type of "talking head shows.

These shows are NOT informational by nature, but are pap served to the public as cultural rituals, to reassure, to repeat the totems and re-assert the taboos, status quo modulaters...they profess to be "politically incorrect" and "common sense" "truth", but they are anything but.  They are the most common denominator herd gathering type rituals in America, telling folks what they want to hear, allowing they to use "scream therapy" and chants against forces they cannot understand that seem bigger than they can cope wth.  It is the same function that was once served by Art Linkletter, Paul Harvey, and Oprah Winfrey in it's cultural ritual function, only many are now more filled with hate, rancor, and scapegoating than these older more soft and fuzzy ritualistic communication type shows were.

The ONE THING they cannot deal with is a complex issue that requires a real ability to read inferences, make connections, or attempt solutions.  The more technical the issue, the less it can be dealt with in a "scream at it" scapegoating fashion.  Folks who understand the complexity of the energy issue would do wise not to be pulled into these "baiting" type of appearances, where the views on the issue are already decided, and there will be no opportunity to develop real alternative ideas.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Well, if a moderate Peak Oiler were on such a show, I'd advise her to "throw the doomers under the bus" in the opening minutes of the interview.  And reposition the discussion centered on oil industry figures who accept PO.


I am leery to throw anyone under the bus, and that may surprise some folks to hear (!) but I think a moderate commentator on peak oil should say "there is a contigent of those concerned that the scenarios who think it could get very bad, but TIME is the real takes time to make changes to avoid the worser scenarios, what would it hurt to start now, reduce pollution, and (iterate here, the patriotic fever and fear of threat is still high in America) KEEP AMERICAN MONEY IN OUR OWN COUNTRY  (now play to the mom and apple pie thing) for schools, good nieghborhoods, and care for our older folks, through conservation and advanced diversified energy  (people love advanced and diversified, kind a play on "newer and better!", helll use those words too!  :-)

AND STAY ON THAT THEME, REPEAT IT, REPEAT IT, REPEAT IT make the opponent seem like they are FOR sending our money out of the courntry and for pollution (which, factually, unneeded consumption and wasted fuel does do!)

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

BTW, do you notice that Jim Kunstler is very good at presenting a moderate face in radio and TV interviews?

I think he understands that his more pessimistic arguments don't play in that venue, and he tones it down.

Ditto. Very well-stated.
Roger, I agree with you. At the same time you need to read some Derrick Jensen. Then we will talk. We will fish and we will talk. We will drink and we will talk. We will die. We will think about salmon. We will think.

We will live. We already have. I always imagine fish. Why is that? I love beef. I imagine swordfish. And lemons.

In light of increasing rates of oil depletion, we need to reflect on the DUET (Deep Universal Eternal Truth) that the hours we spend fishing are not subtracted from the total number that we are allocated to spend on earth.

Also, the best fish to eat is the one you just caught, e.g. trout, cut out the guts, dump into frying pan sizzling with with butter (or lard--must have evil animal fat) and eat for breakfast.

Also for lunch and dinner.

A bamboo pole, a bobber, a line with a hook and a worm, that is all you need. Oh, and a knife, and frying pan and fire too.

Uh oh, you guys are making me a bit there something with a little edge of the cosmic going on here...?  ;-), I ask as I think back to the years of fishing for rainbow trout in Sinking Creek in Central with the aforementioned bamboo pole, my city cousins down from Louisville and Ft. Wayne, Indiana with much prettier more expensive gear, but that was o.k., they knew how to fish, and taught me to look for the right color in the deeper pools below the ripples where the treasures would congregate...we didn't open fire fry them as often, because we were only a few hundred yards from the house, where my granmother had a hot woodstove ready (always), and a china bowl with  beaten egg and another one with breading, all ready to go  (my aunts bought her a propane stove in her later years to make life easier for her, but were a bit hurt because as long as she could carry a stick of wood she seldom used it....)

A smooth operator who had been a part of the notorious "Valley of the Drums" scandal  (a property used outside Louisville to dump drums (thousands) of chemical waste illegally, creating one of the worst of the 'toxic clean up" sites in the U.S.) tried to buy some property on Sinking Creek once, but a loose affiliation of country farmers, fishermen and big M masons unofficially hooked up and communicated to their unofficial connections and managed to end that...

Maybe there is a bit of an odd conspiracy in the Universe that will prevail in the those who have fished the streams of the world have a way of communicating that is much broader and deeper than the WTO or the "skull and bones" crowd...and we are more important than we know as we seek the "appropriate" level of the primitive and the modern....because we will have to deal with both, as always.

The Universe is bigger and more mysterious than we can know, and something larger than us preceded us....but we are connected to it, not an enemy of it....and as the man said at the end of the book, whatever it is,
"A river runs through it".

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

         If you are interested there is an article about oil reserves there :

Peak Oil and Bakhtiari's 4 Phases of Transition

by Byron W. King
Pittsburgh, U.S.A
August 25, 2006.

IN A RECENT ARTICLE entitled "Nothing Like Business as Usual," published Aug. 11, 2006, in Whiskey & Gunpowder, I outlined the views on Peak Oil of a man named Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari. Dr. Bakhtiari is a former senior energy expert who spent his long career, which started in 1971, employed by the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) of Tehran, Iran. During the course of his employment with NIOC, he held many important positions of trust and responsibility.

As noted in the article, the scariest point is that bakhtiari's most pessimistic assessment of opec reserves (vs official numbers) is for Iran, the country he know the most about.
Stuart or Khebab
We may have a better insight to Iran's real reserves than any other opec country.  Maybe it is worth comparing iran's past production with what bakhtiari says they have left, and see if current production is in line with what a linearization curve would suggest.
Response to Heading Out piece posted on Friday, 25th August, 2006

Oil's depletion rate

In a recent piece (25/8/06) the author behind `Heading Out' sought enlightenment on the matter of oil depletion by reading a `report' by the CGES on this subject.  Since, by his own admission, the author has remained unenlightened, may we suggest a few reasons why this was so.  The CGES piece was not a report but a short proprietary article in our Market Watch series (part of our Global Oil Report), which looks at various topical issues concerning the oil industry.  Heading Out contends that the CGES piece `conceals some of the assumptions that it makes, by hiding them within the overbounding simplification of its argument.'  The CGES article did not deliberately try to simplify, but attempted instead to make a simple point based on a simple argument.  For the benefit of those who have not read the CGES paper, the simple argument we made is as follows.

In any single year the world's oil production rate forms one of the key elements of its depletion rate.  Last year, 26.38 billion barrels of crude oil were produced globally (according to the Oil and Gas Journal) yielding a depletion rate of 2.38% on the basis of an average level of proven global crude oil reserves of 1,109 billion barrels in 2005 (again according to the OGJ, but excluding Canada's tar sands reserves).  If -- a big `if', by the way -- there are no further additions whatsoever to the world's proven reserves of crude oil, then the world's depletion rate will obviously rise over time from the 2.38% rate of 2006.  With no further reserves additions and assuming the same rate of oil production, it is a mere matter of arithmetic to calculate the depletion rate ten years hence (3.1% a year), twenty years hence (4.5% p.a.) and thirty years hence (8.3% a year).  However, the world's crude reserves do change over time because companies strive to change them; after all, reserves are the future lifeblood of the industry.

The rate of change of oil reserves is tautologically equal to the rate of gross additions to reserves less the rate of oil production.  Gross additions, in turn, comprise new discoveries, oilfield extensions and revisions.  It is highly unlikely that during any particular year there will be no gross additions to reserves whatsoever.  Discoveries -- small or large -- are being made continuously and with the passage of time and the aid of technology companies get to know more about their oilfields.  Growing knowledge tends to result in more oil reserves through oilfield extensions and revisions of reserves -- what is commonly known in the industry as `reserves growth' -- as well as through discoveries of new oilfields.

A case in point is the United States, the world's most mature oil province.  At the end of 1973, during the first oil crisis, the US had proven oil reserves of 35 billion barrels, giving it an R/P ratio of 10 years and a depletion rate of 10% a year, provided no new oilfields were discovered thenceforth and no oilfield extensions and revisions were made either.  At the end of 2005 the US had proven reserves of 21 billion barrels with an R/P ratio of 11 years, yet had produced in the meantime no less than 86 billion barrels of crude oil!  It would be extremely difficult to determine precisely what proportion of the 86 billion barrels actually produced between 1973 and 2005 was due to new discoveries, oilfield extensions or revisions, and in a fundamental sense it is irrelevant because the US enjoyed the benefits of this oil, whatever its source.  What really counts is the oil producers' ongoing struggle to replace the oil being produced: whether this is achieved via wildcat wells, or oilfield extensions or reappraisals of existing fields hardly concerns the average consumer filling up his shiny SUV in Los Angeles or his beaten-up truck in Mumbai.

Having made the theoretical point presented above, the CGES article proceeded to look at the global picture and see whether the world's gross additions to oil reserves since 1954 exceeded or fell short of global production.  We did not discuss in our short article individual oilfields, or countries for that matter, for there was only enough space to concern ourselves with the aggregate picture; incidentally, for those interested in individual countries do feel free to contact the CGES.  As a matter of historical fact, then, one can assuredly say that since 1954 the world's cumulative gross additions to reserves have exceeded its cumulative oil production.  If this had not been the case, the world's proven reserves would not have grown at all -- and surely no one is purporting that!  This is not to say that we `don't need to worry', as Heading Out contends we are urging our readers, for the future might be very different from the historical record.  There are indeed a number of reasons why we should be fearful, the most important being the lack of opportunities afforded to the international oil companies to `grow' their oil reserves, because they are kept out of the most prospective areas in the world.

To sum up, the author of Heading Out was not enlightened by our article simply because he did not read it carefully enough.  The CGES set out to find what is the world's oil depletion rate and to see whether it has changed over time.  If there are no gross additions to reserves the depletion rate is equal to the world's rate of oil production as a percentage of global proven reserves (2.38% in 2005).  However, gross additions have not been zero; indeed, since 1954 they have exceeded the world's production of oil.  As a result, proven global oil reserves have grown since then and expansion rather than depletion has been the norm.  Oil reserves may shrink in the future and cause depletion to become a serious worry, but they have not done so both in the more remote and the recent past, and that is as much as we dare say on this subject at present.

Dr. Leo P. Drollas
Deputy Director and Chief Economist
Centre for Global Energy Studies
17 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7LY
United Kingdom

As a matter of historical fact, then, one can assuredly say that since 1954 the world's cumulative gross additions to reserves have exceeded its cumulative oil production.  If this had not been the case, the world's proven reserves would not have grown at all -- and surely no one is purporting that!

As a matter of fact proven + probable reserves peaked in 1979. They are today at the levels of the early 1960s.

Your response is quite misleading, please read the following on R/P and 'Reserve Growth':

Peak oil and related peaks (big pdf file)

my first post here--sorry if it is redundant to others as I have not read everyting here:

As I understand it:

proven reserves are reserves that are either currently producing, behind pipe, or are proven because they are close to producing wells and structurally above the oil water contact.

possible and probable are guesses--sometimes they are low, but most often they are too optimistic--principally because they are done by geologists (i am one).

As probable reserves are moved to proven (because development and exploration wells are drilled or because staff changes), people add to reserves--hence gross additions to proven reserves is just the march of drilling and development.

The amount of conversion from possible, probable, proven undeveloped, and proven non-producing, to proven developed producing (pdp) is the 'upward' change in proven reserves. If this amount is equal to the amount of reserves produced in a given year, then we will have no change in proven developed producing reserves. However, production RATES could increase, decrease, or stay the same--and this, I believe, is the most critical factor we face today.

As an example, suppose I have a field that is producing 100 barrels/day and has 1 million barrels left of proven and probable reserves. I drill a new well (maybe a deeper horizon, maybe in a new part of the field). The well suggests that I have more proven reserves (say another 50K barrels) and I get another 10 barrels of oil per day from the well.  I have increased proven reserves by 5%, but production by 10%. The cumulative field rate declines at 10% and lets say the new well declines by 25% in the first year and produces 3K barrels, so at the end of the first year, I have (pardon the approximations):

1 million + 50K-365*95-3K~1,014,000  barrels

My production rate at the end of the year is:

100 bopd -.1*100+10*(1-.25) = 97.5 bopd

So even though I have increased reserves, I have decreased production rates. Unless I increase proven reserves ALOT in a given year, it is likely that my production rates will go down year over year. Am I missing something?