In 1956, the chief consultant of general geology for the Shell Oil Company, M. King Hubbert, presented a technical paper called “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.” His analysis of the world’s known petroleum reserves and depletion rates had led him to the conclusion that we must begin shifting into nuclear power to meet our long term energy needs. Mr. Hubbert recognized that
“No finite resource can sustain for longer than a brief period such a rate of growth of production; therefore, although production rates tend initially to increase exponentially, physical limits prevent their continuing to do so.”
Based on his calculations, he predicted that production of crude oil in the US would occur as early as 1970. In fact, the US peaked in the early 1970s followed by robust drilling in Alaska. Mr. Hubbert further projected that global oil production would peak in the year 2000. The first chart is from Mr. Hubbert’s original presentation in 1956 showing his calculation for world peak oil production.
The second chart is reprinted by permission from The Oil Drum http://www.theoildrum.com/. It shows oil production rates through 2009. Computer modeling of future production mirrors Mr. Hubbert’s earlier assessment.
According to this survey, global oil production reached a maximum output somewhere between 2005 and 2006 and is currently in decline. This decline of the world’s largest oil reserves is well known by industry analysts, the US military, the US Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency in Paris. It is rarely discussed in the US media.
It is important to understand that the theory of Peak Oil is not about ‘running out of oil.’ The relationship between economic growth, the global demand for oil, and the rate of production is complex. In fact it is far too complex to simply blog about. That is why it is critically important that you begin to educate yourself. Each one of us must decide how we can contribute to the transformation underway, right now, today. Please visit the links below which you can also find on the links page.
Thank you and thanks also to Gail Tverberg at the Oil Drum.
-Jeff Sties, Principal / AIA / LEED ap