No Peak Oil

World Oil production, millions of barrels

If you ask what are total estimated reserves of some resource, and divide by the amount produced and consumed, the answer is usually about ten years or so – and has been about ten years for the last several thousand years, because people who look for resources look for resources that they intend to use in the near future, and if they find more than they can use in the near future, they forget about them or conceal them, for fear someone else will go after them.

34 Responses to “No Peak Oil”

  1. […] No peak oil. Related: Lies about energy subsidies. […]

  2. NRx_N00B says:

    Ignoring Doji’s Star’s important and highly relevant point about the EIA’s highly deceptive use of including gas condensates on that “total liquids supply” production profile for a second…

    The thing about mineral or oil/gas deposits is that the accumulations that are increasingly being exploited/pursued are becoming vastly more dilute/diffuse and geostatistically more continuous unlike the more concentrated and discrete higher grade deposits of yesterday—EROI is simply a manifestation of higher entropy. I’m not sure if technology will ever be able to address/combat the consequences of the 2nd law of thermodynamics—perhaps this is the great filter. If you’ve ever witnessed the incredible intensity of tight oil/gas exploration/exploitation you’ll get the idea. At this time production from the Bakken/Eagle Ford/Niobrara still costlier than insitu production or open pit mining from Canada’s oil sands (heavy oil production from Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt has entirely different technical challenges).

    • jim says:

      Eroi is not going to matter much if the regulators pull their finger out on nuclear power.

      Resources are only finite if technological advance stops – and technological advance stopping is a far more serious problem than the finiteness of resources.

      • NRx_NOOB says:

        I agree that any solution lies in nuclear—primary chemical energy has almost passed its time, which is really a game of chasing exponentially increasing entropy.

  3. Barnabas says:

    On the other side of your fracking boom I think you’ll find Thomas Malthus waiting with 10+ billion third-worlder’s in tow.

    • jim says:

      Sure, if technological progress stops, and it is stopping, and we open our borders, and we are opening them, we are toast. But these are facts about politics and our social order, not facts about oil.

  4. […] decay in context. East Asia does it better, Japan notably excepted. Hold the fix. Peak delusions. McCloskey on […]

  5. Barnabas says:

    “We’re not there yet” is not a refutation of peak oil theory. Unless you have a theory of new oil generated then peak oil is only a matter of time. This guy’s graph seems a little steep but the principle seem sound.
    We had better learn how to do nuclear without killing ourselves.
    An aside, funny that according to Republican leaders I shouldn’t be concerned with the demographic replacement of my people but I’m supposed to spend my political capital to help a massive oil corporation build a pipeline.

    • peppermint says:

      in order to have nuclear power, we need to invent better wire clippers so that police can clear protesters faster

    • jim says:

      The stone age did not end for lack of stone.

      Yes, if technological progress stops, and it is showing alarming signs of stopping, then pretty soon we are out of oil, and indeed out of everything, but that is not a fact about reserves of oil, but a fact about cultural decline.

      As for nuclear without killing ourselves: The number of people killed by Chernobyl fallout was nine.

      Not nine hundred million, which one would have thought from the press coverage.

      The major part of the radiation exposure was suffered by the people in a few small towns near the reactor. These people have had their health more examined than anyone in history. No cancer clusters etc showed among them, apart from a cluster of thyroid cancers, a cancer that is notoriously subject to false positives – the more you look for it, the more cases you find.

      First responders, the people that showed up to fight the fire, and were directly exposed to radiation from the naked reactor core, did show elevated rates of cancer and other radiation related illnesses, but neighbors did not.

      Outside of the first responders, there were nine excess deaths related to thyroid cancer, which may well reflect over diagnosis rather than cancer deaths – if you falsely diagnose huge numbers of people with cancer, some of them will die as a result of the risks of hospital and cancer treatment.

      • spandrell says:

        Germany would rather be Russia’s bitch than do nuclear power properly. That tells you all you need to know about nuclear.

        Nuclear power is large scale, which means it’s a state monopoly. But state management is what it is. Fossil fuel works because it’s run by the private sector in a decentralized, efficient way.

        Nuclear power can’t be run by the private sector, so it will never amount to anything. QED.

        • jim says:

          Nuclear power is large scale, which means it’s a state monopoly.

          I see a private company building quite small nuclear reactors intended to be sold to private companies.

          • spandrell says:

            If state regulators don’t crack down on this we may have hope after all.

            I find it hard to imagine them not cracking down though.

        • Candide III says:

          It’s not the scale so much as the risk. As I heard it, no private insurer will touch NPPs’ tail risks, so it falls to the government to insure and then it naturally wants to regulate. Also there’s proliferation issues: an industry whose input and byproduct is fissile material is dangerous like nothing else. OTOH I’m not sure it couldn’t be run in an efficient manner by a government. It could be the modern version of royal domains, for instance.

      • Exfernal says:

        I invite you to live in the Zone then. There is nothing to worry about. Scintillation counters are lying.

        • jim says:

          Lots of people live in the Chernobyl zone. It is highly illegal, because the panic peddlers find it embarrassing, but they sneak in anyway.

          • Candide III says:

            *sigh* Yeah, they do. I’ve talked to some. Almost without exception they are 70-80-year old grandmas and grandpas who preferred to die at home, in their native village. Though their legal status there is shaky, nobody bothers to evict them. Zone administration even helps them with chores on occasion and runs a weekly delivery service for their convenience. Nobody sneaks back now, all those who wanted to have snuck back decades ago. They also die off pretty fast, which is not surprising considering the demographics.

          • Alice Finkel says:

            Radiation hormesis may yet lead to a superior human sub-species. More cheap land in the radiation hormesis zones could be just what humans need.


          • Candide III says:

            Good heavens, radiation hormesis. What next, electromagnetic pollution from power lines and protective stickers on mobile phones? Aura photography? Orgone?

  6. Alan J. Perrick says:

    Especially with the advent of fracking, I would seriously doubt the credibility of anyone promoting the Peak Oil theory. Thanks for doing the numbers on this one, “Jim,” and putting the pressure back onto the Environmentalists.

    Best regards,


  7. […] says No Peak Oil. That little peak in ’07 had been deemed by some to be the absolute global peak. An early […]

  8. Doji Star says:

    1. The EIA’s “total oil supply” is actually “total liquids supply,” including a lot of much lower value very light condensates which aren’t honestly all that useful for meeting traditional demand, especially with demand growing over the past decade much more for middle distillates (diesel, jet fuel) than gasoline (1st world getting poor, driving less, more efficient cars). So it’s not at all apples-to-apples comparison compared to the crude slate even 10 years ago much less 20. This is stuff people didn’t even count as crude in 2000. Traditional grade oil, i.e. not super light condensates, are also useful for many things that other primary energy sources are not, such as petchems, lubricants, plastics, and transportation fuel for light vehicles, although LNG may have a growing role as a transport fuel (ship bunkering, maybe even train locomotives).

    2. Prices need to be considered. Brent averaged something around $110/bbl for 4 years following the financial crisis rebound. It should also be noted there has been very little real global economic growth during this timeframe. Oil in the ’90s was like $20. While marginal shale costs are low, perhaps $40-50/bbl, the all-in costs including capital expenditure for the most expensive marginal new sources like shale and oil sands are at least in the $60-80/bbl range. So oil is much more expensive than it used to be, even inflation adjusted.

    3. Obviously, we we never completely “run out” of oil. I don’t think we (quite) ran out of sperm whales to harpoon for lamp oil, either. It just eventually got expensive enough we moved on to kerosene.

    4. Obviously, prices are very cyclical because of the long investment cycle and general lack of incentive to develop rapid swing production, although shale projects are faster and more responsive than traditional megaprojects. Get high prices for a while, jack up investment, then demand plateaus, there is too much supply online, prices come off, producers have to rediscover discipline, repeat…

    5. Corn-based ethanol is stupid. Off-topic, but please repeat until people get it.

  9. Thomas says:

    It’s an early phase of the energy Singularity. Earlier phase than of the communication Singularity.


  10. Chris B says:

    There’s a move to LNG at the moment anyway. Look at the UK’s switch to LNG. There is also a battle over central Asia and the persian gulf for LNG. People are looking in the wrong direction when they obsess over oil.

  11. spandrell says:

    What’s the source of that?

    Recent increases are all due to US shale. No other country has recoverable shale in the same scale.

    North Sea oil peaked, Chinese oil peaked, Russia and the Middle East will eventually peak. Even if new finds come magically as you appear to expect, new finds by definition are more expensive to extract, and we’re not getting any richer or smarter.

    • jim says:

      Price of oil is falling, volume is increasing. The long term trend is that the price increases pretty steadily, but undramatically.

      Shale oil and fracking technologies started out in America, and have yet to spread to the entire world.

      • enemylimes says:

        There is a massive amount of anti-CSG / shale gas / fracking protest happening in Australia right now. Particularly the leftist stronghold of Northern NSW, where I reside. This region is also home to Australia’s anti-vaccination crowd, personifies Diversity+ on steroids and, up until the last local election had a local council dominated by the Green Party.

        An interesting advent: right wing, nationalist Anglo-Australian farmers teaming up with the Greens and anti-CSG environmentalists to protect their land rights. For those who don’t know, CSG on farmland means division of land, new roadways, boundaries etc – essentially the loss of arable land and disruption of long adhered to systems.

        The Green Party in Australia is hilarious. They have an inner city Melbourne fag as their bastion elective representative, and a history of similar social misfits representing them in federal politics. But because in Australia, even the fags are a bit bogan, the Greens can’t seem to jump above a solid 8%, mostly buoyed by the cosmopolitan inner cities and former hippie colonies.

        I have a suspicion that Australia’s criminal genetic founding stock, represented by a xenophobic (but realistically HBD / Red Pill) outlook may act as a defense against the inevitable decline.

      • Bar says:

        Price is falling because those fat feudal raghead fucks have upped production to put hurt on their enemies, namely Russkies and Iranians.

        They already did that once in the 1980s, consequently USSRs budget went kaboom.

        Fossil fuels are finite, therefore they must peak. Put a little thought into your contrarianism..

        • peppermint says:

          haha, if they were properly feudal they would hoard their supplies while investing in their human capital. Instead their children don’t have jobs and fuck guest workers.

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