All errors should be reported to

Friday, November 20, 2015

Peak Oil, or science got it wrong

When Oil Peaked

By Professor Kenneth S. Deffeyes

Published by Hill and Wang, September 2010

"Kenneth S. Deffeyes's book Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage was the first serious analysis that revisited M. King Hubbert's theory on peak oil. It was a breakthrough piece of research. His new book continues this tradition of staying way ahead of conventional wisdom by using solid scientific facts. It is a must-read!"
—the late Matthew R. Simmons,
Simmons & Company International

The book blurb online by geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes is smug as is the part of the book I read online.

And wrong as hell. Please allow me to explain.

On October 14, 2010, Frank Kaminski ("an ardent Seattle peak oiler, a connoisseur of post-oil novels and a regular book reviewer for Energy Bulletin. He can be reached at reviewed this book:
Deffeyes is adamant about the futility of supply-side responses to peak oil. Using cold, hard mathematics, he shows why the “drill, baby, drill” mentality is a misguided waste of time. The simple fact is that 95 percent of all the oil to be ultimately recovered on this planet has already been found. Thus, scouring existing fields for oil that may have been missed with more primitive technology would be a far more productive use of time than doing grassroots exploration for new oil. Deffeyes maintains that efforts to find significant amounts of new oil are doomed to disappointment, no matter how high oil prices may go.
He also explains how the drop in oil prices seen during this recession has left us all the less prepared for the production declines soon to come. As prices plummeted, oil companies cut scores of exploration and development projects that had suddenly become uneconomical. Every little bit of oil that these projects might have brought online would have helped. Their postponement and cancellation, Deffeyes argues, almost certainly ensure that the 2005 peak in world oil production will never be surpassed. And he adds that the Deepwater Horizon disaster has only compounded matters by bringing new offshore drilling to a halt.
But even as he was writing his review, the world was changing, thanks to George Phydias Mitchell, a petroleum engineer whose company finally made hydraulic fracturing feasible. Suddenly, oil and natural gas became plentiful in areas that are not controlled by cutthroat dictators. Liberals -- oh hell, they are communists -- are desperately trying to stop this progress by making up environmental concerns that are as ridiculous as global cooling, global warming, and vaccines creating autism.

From the Telegraph today:
The world is running out of storage facilities for surging supplies of oil and may soon exhaust tanker space offshore, raising the chances of a violent plunge in crude prices over coming weeks, experts have warned.
Goldman Sachs told clients that the increasing glut of oil on the global market has combined with mild weather from a freak El Nino this winter. The twin-effect could send prices plummeting to $20 a barrel, the so-called ‘cash cost’ that forces drillers to abandon production. “Risks of a sharp leg lower remain elevated,” it said.
I predict this prediction is likely won't happen, but a return to $50 a barrel oil as experts predicted surprised me.

Few things are as satisfying as the portrait George Phydias Mitchell at the parking meter. It was his favorite, chosen from a photo for a profile on him. The portrait shows a humility from a wildcaatter who almost went broke at 78 before finally hitting the jackpot that saved the world

After many false starts, I finally found a motto for my blog:
"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." --- Richard P. Feynman.
It is a caution from one of the greatest American scientists that applies to us all in all walks of life.

UPDATE: Another thought, Muslim terrorism no longer spikes oil prices.


  1. I've read some decent scientific articles on the theory of abiotic oil formation. According to some authors (and scientists? - unable to positively ascertain) oil is being formed continuously inside the earth and we'll never run out of it.

  2. With oil supplies plentiful, now is the time to go after the two largest sponsors of Islamic terrorism: Saudi Arabia and Iran. Of course, with an Islamic apologist in the White House, that won't happen.

  3. Predictions of doom (DOOM, I TELL YOU, DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM) sell more papers than "Don't panic, all is well" stories do.

  4. Anonymous at 12:20
    So THAT's what it's called. I've surmised for years that there was more to production of oil than rotted dinosaurs (sorry, Sinclair). My gradeschool and highschool science classes told me that oil came from ancient plants and animals, buried and then somehow the matter came under extreme pressure. I thought that considering how much oil they'd found around the world, and the many odd places they found it (in the arctic, under deserts, oceans, and so forth) there had to be another explanation. Now I have to write down that word so I can read up on it.

  5. Abiotic Oil Creationism+Magic Thinking