Last week, I attended the annual meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), held in Long Beach, California, from April 21-25. 2012. Although I have done lots of consulting with oil companies over the years, have taught the basics of oil geology all my career, and have many former students working in oil companies, I’m still primarily an academic geologist.
He noted how lavish and expensive that conference was, because of all the money in the crude-oil business.
But the biggest take-home message is something oil geologists have known for years: oil is never going to be as cheap or easy to obtain again, and the global price of oil will get higher and higher as it becomes more and more scarce, especially with the huge increase in demand from developing countries like China and India. I heard this message over and over again, from the gossip on the exhibit hall floor with friends, to the plenary addresses by the top people in the oil business. Coincidentally, it was the cover story of the April 9. 2012, issue of Time magazine as well.
He then noted M. King Hubbert's 1953 prediction than US oil production would peak in the early 1970's. It peaked in 1971. This was from the slowdown in US oil-field discoveries since the 1930's. Much the same thing has also been happening elsewhere in the world, with the discovery rate peaking in 1965. DP quotes estimates that we reached peak world oil production between 2005 and 2010, and likely between 2006 and 2007. But he states that we are still too close in time to say for sure.
My many friends in the oil business almost all tell me that “peak oil” is widely accepted among their colleagues, and they have long been forced to work with extraordinarily difficult exploration problems because there are no easy oil fields any more.