Peak Oil – Information and Fictions – Performed With It?

by Rud Istvan

I decided to design this possible guest post based on my three e-books (all very cheap on iBooks and Amazon Kindle) because the newbie poster MI on WUWT won’t go away and continues to post OT fake Peak Oil stuff that partly directed to his blog, while I did not respond to my various comments to him. I sure have nowhere to go, not even to my published eBooks. So here is a simple WUWT ‘Peak Oil’ factual summary pulled from it for free. May Dave Middleton forgive my geological layperson for possible detailed errors in the overall picture presented here, for which he certainly has better SME knowledge than I do. I also know from previous comments that there have been readers here for years who can’t find anything like that with Peak Oil. A bit like no GHE or no ECS. In addition to MI, this post is aimed primarily at those who still don’t.

Maximum oil production

It certainly has to exist at some point as almost no one claims that oil is not a fossil fuel. So at some point the current fast extraction must exceed all previous slow accumulations, leading to a possible peak in annual production. The two abiotic “hypotheses” (Gold 2001 and Ukraine 2011) were both objectively refuted. The only remaining questions are when will fossil fuel production peak and how much that drop in production will be after the peak. These simple questions directly relate to two NOT-so-simple questions. First, how much fossil fuel oil has yet to be discovered? Second, how much of it can be meaningfully extracted? There are two further sub-questions for the second question: at what price; and all at any price? I am not addressing them here.

Peak Oil Discovery models

There are three basic statistical modeling methods used to estimate this almost certain future high in Fossil Oil DISCOVERIES. The best known is that of Hubbert for the USA, which uses a logistic (fat tail) symmetrical probability curve. It was about right for conventional US oil and about wrong for everything else. There are also the probit transformations and the methods of the hyperbolic cream curve according to basin, the latter illustrated below for the North Sea. (Everything explained in my e-books, but not here.)

The problems with Hubbert’s originally hypothetical logistic curve method appear in different parts.

First, the conventional oilfield extraction curve is NOT its logistics curve. Thanks to secondary and tertiary oil extraction, it has a long, fat tail. Technically, it is a gamma function curve. A good example is the US North Slope.

Second, his hypothesis was only valid for “conventional oil”, defined as viscosity API> 10, produced from a deposit with> 5% porosity and permeability> 10 millidarcy. That ignores all “heavy oil” like in the Canadian “tar” sands or the Venezuelan Orinoco (largest such heavy oil reserve in the world) and also all of the newly fracked “tight” shale oil.

Third, by definition, his estimate did not take into account the later technological advances in fracked shale (tight) oil at all. But the potential of fracked shale oil has also been grossly overstated, as outlined in my e-book ‘Blowing Smoke’ Essays Matryoshka Reserves and Reserve Reservations. The following is a pictorial example of why Monterey Shale Oil Reserves have grown from an official over 15 trillion barrels per EIA to almost nothing per USGS Monterey Shale “Fold” revision:

Gaviota State Park on the rocky coast of the Pacific Ocean in Goleta, Santa Barbara County, California

The plate tectonics left nothing in the Monterey shale to drill / fracking horizontally…. bit of a geological issue with horizontal drill / fracking oil production.

But if you add up all these things and then calculate them in detail (in my e-books), you still get roughly the following possible oil production peaks from the (still incorrect) original Hubbert logistics curve:

So yeah, around 2023-2025 is sure to be the peak of all oil production.

This can also be shown in another way, summarized from the e-books. For conventional oil, an IEA survey from 2008 found an annual rate of decline in production of around 5.7% in the world’s approximately 800 producing oil fields. These 800 or so fields accounted for about 85% of the total conventional oil production for the year. According to the IEA, conventional oil production reached a measurable peak around 2005, close to the various post-Hubbert forecasts. Unconventional oil (with low extraction factors) can in no way compensate for this for many decades.

But because of the oil field depletion gamma curves, it will not be a “sudden” end of the world, not even close, as falsely portrayed by this Hubbert logistic curve peak oil model or by the new MI poster. Just a slow decline, maybe even overtaken by food, even with virtual water. As with climate change, the devil is in the details.

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