Peak Oil is You

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Peak Oil Reading List

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The visionary and legendary M. King Hubbert. He was surely considered a tinfoilhatter when he predicted in 1949 that the U.S. would hit its production peak soon and then they were ready to put him in a straight-jacket when in 1956 he predicted that the U.S. would not only peak soon, it would peak between the years 1966 and 1972. The actual U.S. oil peak occurred in 1971. Then in the 70s Hubbert predicted a world peak at about 2000 – obviously he was a little early, not wrong, just a little early.

Hubbert was a world-reknown geophysicit long before he got into the Peak Oil predicition business. In 1937 he resolved a standing paradox regarding the apparent strenght of rocks that form the Earth’s crust. In the early 1950s, he showed that underground fluids can become entrappped under circumstanes prevously not thought possible, which resulted in the redesign of techniques employed to locate oil and gas…the list of his accomplishments in the fields of geophysics goes on and on. Hubbert is finally receiving the respect he has always been due, too bad he died in 1989. Hubbert taught at Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, and at John Hopkins University. Some Hubbert publications:

From –

  • Nuclear Energy and Fossil Fuels; M. King Hubbert, 1956
  • Energy from Fossil Fuels; M. King Hubbert, 1949 (PDF)

From –

Book titles with no known source:

  • Degree of advancement of petroleum exploration in United States
  • U.S. energy resources, a review as of 1972;: A background paper

Colin J. Campbell – Ph.D – Harvard, 1957. Worked for Texaco and Amaco among others as an exploration geologist. Created the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO). His most famous publication is The Coming Oil Crisis and Oil Crisis

One of Campbell’s primary hypotheses is that the OPEC nations have purposely overestimated their reserve figures (from 42 to 197 percent!) and were highly motivated to do so because the higher the reserves are the more a country is allowed to export. A hypothesis that Matthew Simmons has greatly expanded on lately…but I’ll get to Simmons in a minute.

Campbell wrote an article with Jean Laherrere, in The Scientific American The End of Cheap Oil”, in March 1998 in which they predicted that peak oil will occur “before 2010.”

Princeton University professor emeritus of geology Kenneth S. Deffeyes Deffeyes is mainly known from writing these books: Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage (New Edition) (2001), and Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak (2006), and When Oil Peaked (2010)

Deffeyes really goes into some detail about petroleum geology. He say’s he doesn’t really like to predict an exact date but that data he has seen using variations on Hubbert’s methods that set the date somewhere between 2004 and 2009 seem to be valid, but he became somewhat infamous for making what I believe was a tongue in cheek prediction that peak oil would happen on Thanksgiving Day of 2005.

Kjell Aleklett – President of ASPO International and head of the world’s leading research group on Peak Oil, writes about the decade-long journey of Peak Oil from extremist fringe theory to today’s accepted fact: Global oil production is entering terminal decline. Peeking at Peak Oil

L.F. Ivanhoe – founder of the M. King Hubbert Center for Petroleum Supply Studies at the Colorado School of Mines. He is geologist, geophysicist, engineer, and oceanographer with 50 years of experienced in Petroleum exploration with such companies as Chevron and Occidental Petroleum – He puts peak at about 2010 – read this:

Walter Youngquist, retired Professor of Geology at the U. of Oregon – wrote Geodestinies: The Inevitable Control of Earth Resources over Nations and Individuals (1997) – a quote from Youngquist: “by 2005 at the latest, it will take more energy, on the average, in the United States to explore for, and drill for, and produce oil from the wells than the wells will produce in energy.” Youngquist backs up this claim with some impressive charts and statistices.

L. B. Magoon A geologist with the USGS that maintains a peak oil type website – check it out:

Richard Heinberg, Ph.D. – Teaches courses on “Energy and Society” at New College of California. Has written a slew of books – some of them having nothing to do with Peak Oil. But his most famous Peak Oil books are Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World
(2004), and The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies (2005), and Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2010)

James Kunstler. An excellent investigative journalist whose one big contribution to the Peak Oil discussion has been his recent offering The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (2005) This book tells the whole story from when Spartans poured hot oil on their enemies to the depletion of wood and the beginning of the use of coal in 12th century England to Spindletop to Peak Oil and what the world might look like afterwards.

Matthew Simmons Who describes himself as a lifelong Republican. Simmons experience comes from running an Investment Company for 30 years that specializes in the energy business. Simmons just wrote a new book – hot off the press – Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy – Simmons does a great job of debunking the Saudi reserve fantasies and brings a unique economic perspective to the issue due to his years as an investment banker. Here’s a great online interview with Simmons:

long tail pipe

20 Comments on "Peak Oil Reading List"

  1. Apneaman on Sun, 26th Jul 2015 7:47 pm 



  2. Plantagenet on Sun, 26th Jul 2015 10:32 pm 

    Hubbert predicted US oil production would peak in 1970 and then decline inexorably.

    We now know Hubbert was wrong. U.S. Oil production has instead rapidly INCREASED for the last 10 years

  3. Apneaman on Sun, 26th Jul 2015 11:17 pm 

    planty’s back – here comes another glut of stupidity.

  4. antaris on Sun, 26th Jul 2015 11:23 pm 

    Bullshit Plant. If you go to the EIA historic American crude production data, it is clear that it was October of 2011 that production increased.
    That would be just under 4 years. If you also extrapolate the graph from before 2011 it becomes clear that by 2035 their won’t be much crude coming out of the ground.

  5. Plantagenet on Sun, 26th Jul 2015 11:40 pm 

    Why not admit the truth? U.S. Oil production hasn’t declined as Hubbert predicted.

    In fact US oil production has been INCREASING and is currently approximately at the 1970 level—- 45 years AFTER Hubbert said U.S. Oil production had started a way way trip down

  6. Gil on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 12:39 am 

    U.S. oil production did peak in 1970, and it has not passed that peak since. Yes, production has recently increased due to development of tight oil, but we are still below the 1970 peak. Perhaps a better way to visualize the energy reality is to focus on net energy gain (EROI) rather than gross production. In the early years of oil development in the U.S. the investment of the equivalent of a barrel of oil would produce 100 barrels. Today, it takes far more investment to produce a barrel of crude oil. Hence, we may produce twice as much oil but only realize half as much net gain.

  7. Nony on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 1:04 am 

    I wonder why the peak oil predictors (Hubbert, Deffeyes, Ace, Campbell) did not predict oil in terms of EROI but in terms of volumes of crude and condensate. Dragging the EROI in now that the predictions were invalidated is weaseling out of things.

    And BTW, oil and gas exploration/production consumes some diesel but big deal. It is vastly productive with great EROI. Tar sands oil consumes NG, but that is plentiful anyways. (And conceivably coal could substitute for the steam heating.)

  8. Boat on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 1:05 am 

    How much of the price is geopolitical. How much of it is inflation.
    How much of the current production price is caused by regulations, Like insurance for an oil spill, litigation for an accident. Healthcare for a worker vrs 1970 etc.
    So many costs of oil to market have gone up more than the rate of over inflation because it was the right thing to do. The costs of a barrel should be higher IMHO, like an oil well producing Nat Gas should not be allowed to flare.
    I would hazard to guess if all regulations were rolled back and there were 1970 rules there would be more oil produced now.

  9. dave thompson on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 1:06 am 

    So glad that planta can give us all the inside scoop on what is really happening.I always feel so stupid in my understanding of peak oil and the ramifications involved after I read Planta’s insightful comments. If only the world would listen. Peak oil must be a hoax!

  10. joe on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 1:50 am 

    So use countries without serious rules then. Saudi, Iran, China. They produce lots of energy but are really just economic basket cases with lots of money. China has a demand led recession now, it’s just false banking practices stopping the markets from imploding, Saudi is more socialist than USSR was, and Iran has the biggest population of people pro US in the middle east being led by groups of maniacs.
    So much for fewer rules.

  11. Dredd on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 4:54 am 

    Peak Sea Level (A Paper From Hansen et al. Is Now Open For Discussion).

  12. shortonoil on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 7:35 am 

    “Perhaps a better way to visualize the energy reality is to focus on net energy gain (EROI) rather than gross production.”

    When the oil age ends, and modern civilization has mostly come to a halt the world will still posses some 4,000 Gb of black goo known as liquid hydrocarbons. Counting barrels may not be the best way to go about calculating when that day will arrive?

  13. BC on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 1:05 pm 

    Plant apparently is unprepared to concede that US oil production PER CAPITA is down 45% since 1970 and at the level of the late 1940s.

    The log-linear decline trajectory of US oil production PER CAPITA implies that the US will reach a 50% decline by no later than the early 2020s. However, the structural effects of runaway growth of debt in the shale sector and risk of global recession increases the probability that the date will come forward as production peaks and declines.

    This is occurring with a near doubling of oil production since 2008-09 and the fastest 5- and 9-year rates since 1927 and 1930.

    And we’re still importing almost half (gross) of consumption (25% net).

    China’s net imports of oil are now ~2Mbd more than the US and at ~60-65% of China’s consumption. They’re screwed.

    The US-China net imports as a share of total world exports are at ~50%, and at ~62% of world net imports.

    Net world oil imports are down more than 35% PER CAPITA since Peak Oil in 2005.

    Total world oil production PER CAPITA is at the level of 2004-08.

    The world is now where the US was in the late 1970s to early 1980s in terms of oil production PER CAPITA and at the onset of deindustrialization and financialization.

    To claim that there is an oil “glut” without the foregoing context is oversimplified and at best demonstrating a lack of awareness, understanding, and sophistication.

  14. shortonoil on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 1:49 pm 

    “To claim that there is an oil “glut” without the foregoing context is oversimplified and at best demonstrating a lack of awareness, understanding, and sophistication.”

    Someone who can sit there, and throw darts at a board all day long, and never hit the Bulls eye has a strange and rare talent. They may be possessed, but it is unfair to say that they lack sophistication. Cognitively disconnected – yes; sophistication – no!

  15. BC on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 3:01 pm 

    short: “Cognitively disconnected – yes; sophistication – no!”

    Point taken! 😀

  16. Northwest Resident on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 3:39 pm 

    “Cognitively disconnected – yes; sophistication – no!”

    You mean, there’s a method to Plant’s madness?

    If I may answer my own question: Yes, there is a method to Plant’s madness.

    He seeks to misdirect, to incite, to confuse, to obfuscate, to obstruct and interrupt rational discussion.

    I can see Plant now, sitting in his Socially Disruptive Techniques 301 class at Koch Bros University. The teacher is saying, now repeat after me students, “Oil glut”, “Oil glut”.

  17. energyskeptic on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 8:01 pm 

    I have several book lists, and a long one that follows links to shorter lists at

    What makes peak oil so interesting is that systems ecology touches on and is influenced by so many other areas, it’s a vast spider web of connections, and in the end, a House of Cards, with the oil card able to take down all the others

  18. Davy on Mon, 27th Jul 2015 8:53 pm 

    Energy, well said comment on systems ecology. It is a fascinating focal point because it includes everything human and non human. Like you say it’s a big spider web.

    Peak oil is what lead me to this higher human and natural study. Systems ecology fed into dooming and prepping for obvious reasons.

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