Peak Oil by 2006?

That’s what Colin Campbell says in a recent Guardian article:

Campbell reckons global peak production of conventional oil – the kind associated with gushing oil wells – is approaching fast, perhaps even next year. His calculations are based on historical and present production data, published reserves and discoveries of companies and governments, estimates of reserves lodged with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, speeches by oil chiefs and a deep knowledge of how the industry works.
“About 944bn barrels of oil has so far been extracted, some 764bn remains extractable in known fields, or reserves, and a further 142bn of reserves are classed as ‘yet-to-find’, meaning what oil is expected to be discovered. If this is so, then the overall oil peak arrives next year,” he says.

Unfortunately, Campbell isn’t exactly new at this.. he’s been in the industry for 40 years and at all levels. He’s also not exactly a newcomer to the “peak oil” philosophy. He’s been preaching the same decline for at least a decade. (eg: from 1998)

It is important to realize that spending more money on oil exploration will not change this situation. After the price of crude hit all-time highs in the early 1980s, explorers developed new technology for finding and recovering oil, and they scoured the world for new fields. They found few: the discovery rate continued its decline uninterrupted. There is only so much crude oil in the world, and the industry has found about 90 percent of it.

Our analysis reveals that a number of the largest producers, including Norway and the U.K., will reach their peaks around the turn of the millennium unless they sharply curtail production. By 2002 or so the world will rely on Middle East nations, particularly five near the Persian Gulf (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), to fill in the gap between dwindling supply and growing demand. But once approximately 900 Gbo have been consumed, production must soon begin to fall. Barring a global recession, it seems most likely that world production of conventional oil will peak during the first decade of the 21st century.

And in another report to the UK House of Commons Committee in 1999…

There are of course many alternatives, but the range of possibility is limited given the resource constraints. These constraints are facts not scenarios. If by some miracle we could add 500 [Bilion Barrels (Gb)] of reserves – more than half as much as produced so far – it would delay peak by only ten years.

One indisputable fact stands out. Discovery peaked 30 years ago [in 1970s]. It takes no feat of intellect to conclude that we now face the corresponding peak of production.

Still think the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with oil? How about this for an eerie prediction:

1) Oil demand will grow at 1.5% a year – slightly below the IEA estimate of 1.8% – until Swing Share reaches about 35% in 2001.

2) The Middle East countries will then have the confidence to impose much higher prices, realising that they have no competition. They may even get such confidence sooner.

6). Nevertheless, I think it will be a time of great political and economic tension as Europe, America and Japan vie for access to Middle East oil. More missiles can be expected. The third world will be badly hit, being unable to afford imports. Agriculture is very dependent on oil.

I think it is absurd that the management of the depletion of the world’s supply of its most important fuel should be left to a few feudal families controlling the Middle East. The consuming governments should recognize where their interests lie.

And the ouster of Saddam Hussein has done absolutely nothing to change the nature of who is controlling ME oil.. it’s still a handful of families and tribes with their hand on the spigot from which the world drinks.

Well, put simply… it means that unless demand for oil drops along with supply… then prices will only continue to rise. In other words, the more oil we use, the more it will cost. And that is a Global “We”. Even if Canada and Europe and the US dramatically reduce their consumption, who’s to say India, China and the rest of the emerging SE Asia zone won’t pick up the slack? They have a far larger population… by quite a margin… so as they aspire to our standard of living it is absolutely possible that they could make up for our consumption “loss”.. and then some.

Another factor is that the Middle East is the only region where production of cheaply extracted oil has not already peaked. The North Sea, North/South American, African and Soviet oil fields have all reached their peak and are switching to smaller oil fields or more difficult deposits. That doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of oil left to be had (like in the Tar Sands of Alberta and Venezuela) but it is more and more expensive to extract it… gone are the days of gushing wells… most of the oil from the Americas will be mined, not pumped.

So.. what do you think of those Hybrid Vehicles now?


One reply on “Peak Oil by 2006?”

  1. It seems obvious to me that the Asian economic forces are going to surge demand and prices of oil with no let up. No brainer there. We will never have cheap gas again in North America. It’s just beginning, Chris, the effect of the booming economic activity in the eastern hemisphere. Alternative energy…that’s the ticket. We need it, Canada needs it and Europe needs it if we are to continue to remain competitive.

    Also, whenever you wonder where the “threats” are against our respective (and Europe’s) national security, think China and Russia. You have to look a little bit into the future to imagine it but believe me, it’s a very real possibility that Russia and non-Westerners are going to get ugly as time goes on as we all compete for prosperity and influence and protect our own interests.

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