Peak Oil

Peak Oil: What is it? What does it mean?

Defining Peak Oil

Peak Oil, aka Hubbert Peak Theory, below, is a hypothesis that predicts when half of the recoverable reserves -- the easiest and the cheapest to mine -- have been depleted. The theory recognizes that the amount of oil under the ground is finite.

The U.S. hit peak oil in 1970

Exactly when M. King Hubbert predicted in 1956 -- despite disbelief within the oil industry.

The significance and implications of Peak Oil

M. King Hubbert, the renowned oil geologist and geophysicist, first articulated the case of the end of (easy) oil. This is known as the Hubbert Peak Theory. The hypothesis is as controversial as it is significant. See also the Die Off web site.

Implications of Peak Oil

The recoverable reserves are more inaccessible and expensive to mine. At some point the energy needed to obtain energy becomes a net negative--the party's over. Our civilization is premised on an adequate supply of accessible and affordable oil. Read the last sentence again. Then, ponder its implications.

Hubbert Peak Theory

This is the original name for the Peak Oil hypothesis. Note this explanation:

Hubbert's peak can refer to the peaking of production of a particular area, which has now been observed for many fields and regions. "Peak Oil" as a proper noun, or Hubbert's peak applied more generally, refers to a singular event in history: the peak of the entire planet's oil production. After Peak Oil, according to the Hubbert Peak Theory, the rate of oil production on Earth will enter a terminal decline. Based on his theory, in a paper[1] he presented to the American Petroleum Institute in 1956, Hubbert correctly predicted that production of oil from conventional sources would peak in the continental United States around 1965-1970 (actual peak was 1970). Hubbert further predicted a worldwide peak at "about half a century" from publication. Many observers such as Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Matthew Simmons, and James Howard Kunstler believe that because of the high dependence of most modern industrial nations on inexpensive oil, the impending post-peak production decline and resulting severe price increases will herald grim implications for the future global economic outlook. Note, because of world population growth, oil production per capita peaked in 1979 (with a plateau 1973-1979).[14]
Hubbert peak theory, Wikipedia

The implications for severe shortages and global price hikes are, as Brown says seismic. ^


Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. | Initialized: 2/25/2007 | Last Update: 5/29/2008