Peak Oil is You

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Page added on July 22, 2017

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Peak Oil, Jim’s Blog

General Ideas

If you discover more than ten years of reserves, politicians are apt to take it away from you.

So for the last hundred years or so, the world has only had ten years worth of proven oil reserves left and has been about to run out in ten years or so. In fact the world has only had about ten years of anything left for the past hundred years or so.

King Hubbert created a composite, mega-decline curve that predicted U.S. crude oil production would peak in the 1965-70 time period. But, of course, it did not decline. So his prediction was retroactively relabelled “Lower 48 states Oil Production”. Which retrodiction was true – for a while. Retrodictions always are. See global warming for example.

Well, for some time US oil production in the lower 48 states has been increasing. So it was re-relabelled “Lower 48 states conventional oil Production” The new story was that fracking has intolerable environmental and financial costs, so is not a practical replacement for old type oil production.

When Trump stopped the government from funding and organizing people to protest fracking, the intolerable environmental costs mysteriously vanished in a puff of smoke, and when Trump made it easier to get permission to frack, so did a large part the economic costs, with the result that US frackers are now giving the Saudis a hard time.

For a given technology, and a given price, a given oilfield or group of oilfields does indeed follow a Hubberd Curve, and you can use the curve to estimate what the real reserves are. (They are usually enormously greater than the official reserves.)

Although science has been stagnating since Harvard got the upper hand over the Royal Society, technology that makes money continues to advance. We have a problem with new blue sky technologies. No one in the west is developing new technologies any more, just polishing up existing profitable technologies. We are not getting any replacement for chip patterning usin one hundred and ninety three nanometer excimer laser lithography, just ever more minute improvements in excimer laser lithography, with the result that Moore’s law has run out of puff. People keep talking about ten nanometer, but it is just not going anywhere. They keep saying they will use both one ninety and ten. If ten was working, would not use one ninety. If they were talking ninety nanometer, rather than ten, then I would be impressed. If someone could make money out of supersonic jets, we would get better and better supersonics, but instead, planes are slowing down, not speeding up. But people could make money out of drilling and stimulating oil fields, so drilling and oilfield stimulation got better and better, and continues to improve.

Physical resources are effectively infinite, in that physical limits to growth are unlikely to be a significant problem in the reasonably foreseeable future. The problem is social decay.

Jim’s Blog

8 Comments on "Peak Oil, Jim’s Blog"

  1. boat on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 8:44 am 


    Fracking took off long before Trump came along. What slowed fracking for a couple years was frackings success driving prices down. Who else had a role in creating the long lasting glut? Canadian tar sands, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Lybia.
    Trump is opening drilling areas but how long will OPEC continue to lose market share due to artificial higher pricess due to their own cuts in production.

  2. CAM on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 9:50 am 

    Well! It really is comforting to know that we will never, ever, run out of any resource. Really! Now we can shoot for world populations of 20-30 billion or more without the slightest worry!

  3. Cloggie on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 9:56 am 

    with the result that Moore’s law has run out of puff. People keep talking about ten nanometer, but it is just not going anywhere.

    Wrong Jim, Moore’s Law will live on for at least another 10 years.

  4. Dredd on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 11:13 am 

    Prick oil … kid killer (Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions).

  5. dave thompson on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 12:56 pm WE SURE IT IS ENDING?

    “As I pointed out earlier we can not halve a pile of sand once we are down to piles that are only a single grain of sand. That is where we are now, we have gotten down to just about one grain piles of sand. Gordon Moore’s Law in its classical sense is over. See The Economist from March of last year for a typically thorough, accessible, and thoughtful report.”

  6. kanon on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 4:19 pm 

    It is interesting to see the forms magical thinking takes. The graphs of US crude oil production followed Hubbard’s predictions and even fracking was anticipated. The graph of oil company debt and actual earnings over the last few decades is what we need to see now.

  7. Sissyfuss on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 6:09 pm 

    So Trump made fracking easier and cheaper but he didn’t fix the ten nanometer problem. Thanks for explaining present day reality to us simpletons, Jimmy boy.

  8. rockman on Sat, 22nd Jul 2017 8:36 pm 

    “…and when Trump made it easier to get permission to frack”. Just one more fool whose knowledge base comes from the endless source of BS from the MSM. The federal govt has never had any authority over frac’ng in Texas where the vast majority of oil production from frac’d shales has originated. In Texas we’re not even obligated to tell the feds we frac’d a well let alone ask permission.

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