Oil production is high to start,
then tails off to a dribble
Like it or not, peak oil is a fact of life, and here are some peak oil facts to back it up.
Fact 1. Peak oil is a predictive theory proposed by M. King Hubbert in the 1950s. Dr. Hubbert noticed over 60 years ago that crude oil production would peak and then decline. The theory appears to be true with some modification due to modern production techniques. Notice that world oil and condensate production has remainded flat at about 75 million barrels per day since 2005. However, prices have gone up, not remained flat.
Fact 1. Peak oil is a predictive theory proposed by M. King Hubbert in the 1950s.
Dr. Hubbert noticed over 60 years ago that crude oil production would peak and
then decline. The theory appears to be true.
Fact 2. There is a lot of spin regarding peak oil. In fact, no matter what you call it, free flowing crude oil is being used up way faster than it is being replaced. The spin is mostly regarding how fast.
Fact 3. Many, (and more all the time) people agree that peak oil either happened a few years back, is going to happen soon, or perhaps by about 2020. In any case, peak oil is not too far off...in the past or in the future.
Fact 4. Peak oil in the sense predicted by Dr. Hubbert mainly included free flowing crude oil. Since that prediction, other hydrocarbon liquids have come on stream which may extend the curve when added in. There is not near as much hydrocarbon liquid as crude oil, but enough to skew the graph for a few years.
Fact 5. Since the original peak oil prediction, new production techniques have come online which may also extend the curve a few years...maybe a bit more or less.
Fact 6. New oil exploration and production techniques are increasingly expensive and risky as we saw with the recent BP deepwater well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Fact 7. About 320 of the world's 16,000 oil fields provide nearly 60 percent of global oil supply.
Fact 8. The world currently consumes around 85 million barrels per day, or 30 billion barrels of oil per year.
Fact 9. Oil production from current giant and super giant oil fields is declining rapidly, as predicted.
Fact 10. For instance: the supergiant Cantarell field in Mexico peaked at producing 2.1 million bpd in 2003. Production has since declined to about 450,000 bpd. The drop will have big impacts on the Mexican economy.
Fact 11. New giant fields are not being discovered like in the past. Not to say they won't, but so far they are not.
Fact 12. Actually, new oil discoveries are ever smaller, of lower quality and located in ever-more difficult operating environments.
Fact 13. From about 1996 to 1970, 26 giant and super-giant fields were discovered. From 2000 to 2010, only 2 giants have been discovered, even with increased and much better exploration techniques and activity.
Fact 14. Oil use in 1970 was around 9.6 million (bpd) barrels per day. Current oil use is around 90 million bpd. This is an increase of nearly 900%.
Fact 15. Many, many studies have been published on peak oil by huge agencies concerned about the effects of peak oil on civilization as we know it.
Fact 16. Some of the worlds most powerful military agencies have confirmed their concerns about peak oil. Over 80% of military energy budgets go to crude oil.
Fact 17. The US military recently cautioned that current oil production capacity could vanish in the next few years, with major shortages occurring in 2015.
Fact 18. The German military forecasts the onset of peak oil in 2010 with serious effects fully kicking in by mid-century.
Much of the current discussion surrounding peak oil includes oil locked tightly up in sand and shale. These are known as tar sands and shale oil among other things. Technically, this oil is not the same as the oil in Hubbert's theory.
Fact 1. Alternative oil is not the same as crude oil and was not included in
the original peak oil theory prediction. Tar sands are the most practical alternative
at this time.
Fact 2. The Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, Canada, are the largest reserves of tar
sands in the world. About 10% of these deposits, or about 170 billion barrels of the
tar sands, are considered recoverable.
Fact 3. 170 billion barrels is 5 plus years of world oil use at current rates, which will increase.
Fact 4. Tar sand mining is very hard on Canadian wildlife, water, and landscapes. In short, tar sand mining makes a huge mess.
Fact 5. Mining heavy oil degrades air quality as well. Air pollution increases are close to 40% compared to regular crude processing!
Fact 5. Oil shale reserves in the Western US are conservatively estimated at around 1 trillion barrels. If ( a very large if) recovered, this could supply the world for 33 years at current rates of use.
Fact 6. It is not currently commercially practical to produce oil shale.
Fact 7. Oil shale production is very, very hard on the environment. For instance it takes several barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. This is in the desert like Western US where water is by definition scarce.
Fact 8. It would then take about 84 million gallons of water per day to produce one million barrels of oil per day. This averages out to about 130 cubic feet per second of water flow. This is more than a lot of Western US streams flow.
Fact 9. Saudi Arabia is trading oil for solar panel installations. It appears that the Saudis are hedging their bets in a big way. Some speculate that the country has already passed
peak oil production. The nation is installing record numbers of electricity generating solar panels and exporting the energy.
March, 2012 Houston Texas
French Oil Giant Total Breaks Ranks. Although major oil companies may or not agree that peak oil is around the corner, they almost never admit it.
Yves-Louis Darricarrere, president of the Total oil and gas exploration division, reports that: “We think it will be difficult to produce more than 95 to 97 million barrels per day in the foreseeable future.” The estimate includes shale oil and gas. It does not include biofuel and coal oil.
Total also forecasts that some 25 to 45 additional million bpd will also be required. That is the equivalent of two Saudia Arabias of oil! Where will it come from?