Peak Oil is You

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Page added on February 4, 2018

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Peak oil is back and better than ever


Back when oil prices were high, people were talking a lot about peak oil supply — the possibility that we’d run out of new sources of crude oil eventually. But now people are talking about peak oil demand — the possibility that we’ll just stop using the stuff as we come up with better options.

Most recently, analysts from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch have predicted that oil consumption will peak by 2030, as electric vehicles become dominant. The (simplified) argument: Right now, batteries make electric vehicles relatively expensive. As battery prices fall, EVs will turn into a bargain and people will start buying them en masse. If 40 percent of new car sales are EVs by 2030, that would be enough to send our oil habit into decline.

Most oil companies are planning on demand peaking later — like 2040, 2050, or not at all (see ExxonMobil and Chevron). But Royal Dutch Shell is preparing for peak oil in as little as 10 years.


17 Comments on "Peak oil is back and better than ever"

  1. baha on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 6:52 am 

    No one has been able to predict the supply/demand trends well enough to agree on a peak date for either one.

    That’s because they are controlled by the public not the industry. Public opinion can change fast. If it happens it will be a cascade.

    You have the control. You are the one who will lead these industries into the future…Make your choice and they will follow.

  2. Davy on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 7:03 am 

    “Right now, batteries make electric vehicles relatively expensive. As battery prices fall, EVs will turn into a bargain and people will start buying them en masse. If 40 percent of new car sales are EVs by 2030, that would be enough to send our oil habit into decline.”

    The future is not “now” talk. You can’t take credit for a future until that future is realized. I could just as easily say EV’s will stall and become a play toy of the rich soon. Can you prove me wrong? I could say the economy is going to dump in the next 2 years severely stalling the renewable revolution and even making oil in short supply by pricing unconventionals out of affordability. This works both ways.

    Many want to listen to the other side of doom because it appeal to the pussy in them. The thought of life being difficult and painful is too much to contemplate. These people chose to be wimps. I am not saying complete doom is the answer but real risk management based on honest science says we have dangerous problems ahead that require adaptive behavior. Pain will be part of our lives “more” not the “MOAR” of fake green prosperity.

    I want a renewable future with EV transport. I also want localism with a populous engaged in demand management. I want that populous engaged more in permaculture of any kind from gardening to farming. I also want bad behaviors to stop. The stupidities of the bread and circus should stop but won’t. One such event is taking place in the US today. What a waste of precious resources. The likelihood of altered behaviors happening in any significant amount is low precisely because of the disgusting techno optimist preaching all is well and the future though difficult is really bright. You know the “we have a golden decade ahead” shit.

  3. Cloggie on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:15 am 

    Shell is betting on peak oil demand in ten years for the simple reason that Shell and Holland are “embedded” in the EU that has a stiff renewable energy policy, embraced by the majority of the population, except for these darned populists, whom I happen to vote for (Davy: “Nazi alert!), provided they don’t become too big. For the rest, I support whole-hartedly the glorious renewable energy policy of the not so glorious EU. The EU, or Europe rather, reached peak oil demand in the seventies.

  4. MASTERMIND on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:39 am 

    You can’t drive an EV out of the city. So for most Americans they are useless..They are just a fad for rich yuppies! And only around 1/3 of all American’s own a garage to charge it..

    UC Davis Study: It Will Take 131 Years to Replace Oil with Alternatives (Malyshkina, 2010)

  5. Chris Hill on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 9:47 am 

    I think it will get interesting if EV’s ever really do take off. With more solar on the grid, we could get peak production of electricity during the day, precisely when most vehicles will be out working, not home charging. Peak demand might come at night when everyone plugs in their shiny new EV. Only thing that could make that work is more coal power in most places, just what we’re trying to avoid.

    To me, it is all a pipe dream. Just because batteries have improved doesn’t mean they will continue to improve. My 90% efficient gas furnace from 20 years ago hasn’t been dramatically bested by new 150% efficient gas furnaces. I think I could go from 92 to 97%, which is something but not enough to get me excited. There really is an issue with diminishing returns, but nobody wants to see it.

  6. Mitchell Covell on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 1:08 pm 

    Hi Chris,

    I suspect that you are correct: the returns on technologies typically follow a logistics curve and there is no reason to believe that renewable energy technologies will be any different.
    Additionally, once the capacity factor for renewables has been put into the calculation, the sheer number of units that would have to be employed to provide more than 50% of current electricity demand averaged over time is very large. Even larger if we have additional demand due to electrifying transportation.
    The increasing severity of storms that is already apparent as a consequence of global warming will increase the cost of maintenance of renewables – neither wind turbines nor banks of PV cells can be made invulnerable to tornadoes and hail.
    I think that feasible solutions must involve substantial demand reduction. Unfortunately, this can not be made politically salable at this time.

  7. Anonymous on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 1:31 pm 

    The icon used for this post is illuminating. Here is a larger view:

    Note that, we are now at 2018 or 8 years past the posited 2018 peak. How have things worked out?

    1. World total liquids
    a. Graph peak (2010): 82 MM bpd
    b. Graph prediction (2018): 74 MM bpd
    c. Reality (2018): 98 MM bpd

    2. US crude and condensate
    a. Graph, at 2010: 5 MM bpd (in decline since 1970 peak)
    b. Graph prediction (2018): 3 MM bpd
    c. Reality (2018): 10 MM bpd


    So just going by the ICON you use on your site, peak oil predictions were a joke.

  8. Anonymous on Sun, 4th Feb 2018 1:33 pm 

    “posited 2018 peak”, should be “posited 2010 peak” (lysdexia)

  9. Kat C on Mon, 5th Feb 2018 4:09 am 

    Has anyone ever made a EV, a battery, a solar panel, a windmill without using oil and coal. Besides 18 wheelers transporting supplies, roads created and maintained by steam rollers and other large vehicles, these technologies rely on rare earth metals mostly obtained overseas. Are there any plans to bring back clipper ships using only sails?
    Meanwhile looking at oil produced without looking at net oil produced is stupid. When it takes 1 barrel to produce 1 barrel you could extract a trillion barrels a day and still have none to use. The data we need is Net oil produced, not total oil produced. Just like in a business, gross proceeds is meaningless, net proceeds, also called profit, is the number you need to know.

  10. Mad Kat on Mon, 5th Feb 2018 4:30 am 

    Kat, too much logic there for some of the low IQs here. ALL renewables, outside of plants ant the hydraulic cycle (rain) require FF to exist and always will. Total systems are ignored by the techies and the oily dreamers. No profit. No oil. Simple.

  11. onlooker on Mon, 5th Feb 2018 6:55 am 

    Kat, they ignore much the techies and hopium crowd. But at this point what they most ignore is our Economies and our principle energy source FF are now on a declining trajectory. This prohibits our world from simulteneously transitioning to other comparable energy sources while maintaining the integrity and viability of our Economies. Delusion and Fantasy it is as Yoda would say.

  12. Boat on Mon, 5th Feb 2018 10:21 am 


    There you go again sounding like MM, Who are these’ people that say economies don’t need oil. What has been said is decades down the road electricity will take over a big chunk the transportation sector. There is no logic to creating strawman arguments.

  13. Cloggie on Mon, 5th Feb 2018 11:51 am 

    Daimler to bring robo-taxis in 2020.
    Wants to beat Google to it.
    “Self Driving Mercedes: Behind the Wheel!”
    “Daimler’s Self Driving Truck Nevada Worlds First Licensed Autonomous Freightliner Inspiration CARJAM”
    “Daimler’s self-driving snowploughs”

  14. Cloggie on Mon, 5th Feb 2018 11:53 am

    “New Holland #NHDrive Concept Autonomous Tractor”

    There goes the need for cheap labor.

  15. Cloggie on Mon, 5th Feb 2018 11:54 am 

    Farmer becomes “ground control”.

  16. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 6th Feb 2018 1:59 am 

    Me and Pops are taking an old pickup truck,
    and welding together a firebox and a boiler,
    so that it will go down the freeway as a
    true steam-powered vehicle, using
    nothing but old wheelbarrow tires and sofa
    cushions we can throw in, one by one.

    And this is a 100% renewable resource.

  17. Mad Kat on Tue, 6th Feb 2018 2:28 am 

    Boat, please translate that rambling comment.

    Not understandable in that format.

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