Debunking "peak oil" theory

I've written more than once on these pages that I think the "peak oil theory", namely that we're running out of oil in a time frame that is relevant, is bulls**t. Today, I offer you this interesting article in which an executive from Shell Oil (an employee of which started the "peak oil" concept some decades ago) questions the theory's assumptions. But even if you like the theory, I'd point out that the facts don't agree with it, as proven reserves rise, not fall, almost every year, regardless of our consumption because of better technology to both find and extract oil. see "Shell exec says world not running out of oil" (WND, 3/20/08)
  • Gale Whitaker
    Comment from: Gale Whitaker
    03/21/08 @ 10:22:28 pm

    Dear Rossputin Its obvious that you nothing about the theroy of peak oil. The theroy says nothing about running out oil, it states specifically that the world will never run out of oil. The problem is that as it becomes more scarce the price will increase to the point that those billions of folks that depend on cheap oil for heat, food and transportation will not be able to pay the price. This is a basic market phenomena and applies to all declining resources. J. H. Kunstler says ("The Long Emergency") that from a physics standpoint there are NO alternatives to cheap oil. The world is only one terrorist bomb away from $200 oil and worldwide chaos. You can make fun of us if you like but when the stuff hits the fan please remember my words. Gale Whitaker

  • Comment from: Rossputin
    03/21/08 @ 10:34:38 pm

    Gale, I understand the peak oil theory just fine. I simplified slightly for my readers, but the difference between fully running out of oil and running out enough to make it extremely scarce is not an important difference. If the theory is ever shown to be right, it will be far after you and I are dead so I doubt I'll remember your words. "Peak oil" is little different from Malthus' and Ehrlics' ideas of peak food. Yes, there is the difference that we grow more food and the earth is most likely not making more oil. But to the extent that our ability to both find and extract oil is constantly increasing, and to the extent that we are in fact researching and developing other sources of energy, it might as well be that the earth is creating more oil. The effect is the same. So, Gale, when the price of oil comes down after the current speculative premium comes out, and for other reasons, and when it's lower in 20 years than it is now, please remember my words. By the way, I wrote an article about Kunstler's book in 2005. I still think is book is as silly as I thought then. He's like a global warming alarmist, using junk science to further a political agenda. You can read my article at: I got an e-mail from someone claiming to be Kunstler after I wrote the article. It used language that was unsuitable to be put on these pages. Rossputin

  • David J. McCartney
    Comment from: David J. McCartney
    03/22/08 @ 07:37:25 am

    Rossputin, In the arena of alternative energy, you run up against the constraints of ROI and EROEI. ROI is a accountancy constraint - if your profit falls below a threshold, you curtail or cease the endeavor. Observe the stock by-backs the oil companies have undertaken in the past year alone (Conoco-Philips $15 billion, Exxon $29 billion). Exxon’s exploration budget?: Just 19 billion. The big oil companies see the writing on the wall and are not making sizable investments, regardless of the price of oil. They haven’t built a new refinery in the US for over 20 years. Extraction is getting too expensive and too difficult with the finds too small. EROEI is the amount of energy gained, minus the expenditure of energy to acquire, transport, process, maintain, store, and utilize the energy source. As it gets harder to extract, the EROEI drops. Early oil was 100 to 1; today it’s 8 to 1. The EROEI ratio has been deteriorating at the rate of about 3.5% per year since the 1930's. We are reaching the limits of this constrai The most difficult reality to comprehend and accept is that no combination of alternative energies can come even close to providing the energy density of oil, nor can any of them be used as the feed-stocks for our plastics, medicines, and over 500,000 other products and chemicals. Without oil, we cease to live the lives of comfort and convenience we have become accustomed to. As I began my personal investigation of this issue, the single reality which took me by surprise, and a great deal of time to wrap my head around, is the almost unfathomable density of oil. There is nothing else like it, and no alternative can come remotely close. Review the concept of the Cubic Mile here: and here: This work was done by the respected IEEE, the world's largest professional technology association. To equal the energy output of one year’s worth of oil, one cubic mile, you would need to construct 52 nuclear power plants ...each year, for 50 years! That’s 2,600 installations total (there are just 429 worldwide presently). The sobering reality is that there is not enough time, uranium, or money to come within a fraction of our energy demands using nuclear, even with other sources in consort. The same applies to any other alternative energy source. Thank you for your time and consideration. Dave