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Page added on August 1, 2013

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The Oil Drum Bites the Bag

The Oil Drum Bites the Bag thumbnail

It’s been a while since I last checked the PO situation, but I did a bit of browsing recently, and it seems that PO has, well, gone down the toilet.

I first started following peak oil in August 2004, and when I first heard the hype, I immediately thought “here we go, this is Y2K all over again.” As it turned out, I was right.

The landscape is littered with the detritus of failed Peak Oil theories… Remember Matt Savinar and LATOC (Life After the Oil Crash)? Perhaps this will refresh your memory:

Matt was ruling 9 years ago, being cited in the Congressional Record, and lecturing me on what a doomed, oblivious asshat I was for mocking peak oil. Now LATOC is defunct and Savinar is working as an astrologer in San Francisco:

Remember the Olduvai Theory? Twilight in the Desert? Ace’s predictions at the Oil Drum? “A Nose Dive Toward the Desert“? Plummeting EROI? The Export Land Model? All crashed and burned…

And now, to put the icing on the cake, The Oil Drum–epicenter of the most solemn, quantitative hand-wringing in the Peak Oil world–is signing off due to a devastating and total loss of credibility/interest.

Thanks to fracking, we’re swimming in hydrocarbons. US oil production is rising again.

The Saudis aren’t running out of oil due to the watering out of Ghawar and the “Export Land” effect. On the contrary, they are starting to crap their pants about collapsing demand for oil due to the glut created by fracking.

Let’s face it, the “cornucopians” were totally vindicated, and the “peak oilers” turned out to be a bunch of Chicken Littles!


Just like Y2K, you would have been better off listening to your senile old grandma, who said it was all a bunch of hype, than all the overly-concerned “scientists” like Deffeyes and “researchers” like Heinberg.

Now, you may be wondering: How in the hell did I, JD (the author of this blog), know that Peak Oil was a farce, and wouldn’t happen? The answer to that is very simple, and I wrote about it in #128 many years ago: The collapse of modern civilization is too good to be true.

We are certain to see more of these “Chicken Little” scenarios in the future, so (with a hat tip to Jean Baudrillard) let me leave you with a helpful rule:

JD’s IRON LAW OF MEDIA EVENTS: The probability of any disaster scenario occurring is indirectly proportional to the degree it is hyped by the media/Internet etc.

peak oil debunked

10 Comments on "The Oil Drum Bites the Bag"

  1. Arthur on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 11:41 am 

    These kind of victory parties were to be expected. A few remarks:

    – the idea that fossil fuel reserves are finite are uncontroversial. Even Shell bigwigs will admit that later this century oil will likely run out. The only controversial issue is the timing.

    – yes it is true that quit a few ‘commoners’ with mere layman bagage who smell their chance for eternal glory and start to behave like Nostradamusses in anticipation of joining the ‘told you so’ crowd in the near future. Nothing beats carressing an ego of imagining having knowledge of a secret the rest of the ‘sheeple’ has not. Heinberg for instance is a journalist, not a geologist. Matt Savinar has a degree in political science and law. The intellectual foundation of the ASPO/peak oil movement is based on the work of professional oil gazers Campbell and Laherrere. But that was 1999. They were correct about peak conventional oil but missed the fracking business.

    – The conventional oil story is: 2 trillion barrel total recoverable reserves, with more than 1 trillion barrel ‘low hanging fruit’ already picked and eaten. Trustworthy organisations like the USGS state that there are trillions more unconventional oil waiting in the soil. I believe them. Yes, the battle hardened peaker will say, but there is EROI! True, but technology has a tendency to advance and what is unrecoverable today might be recoverable tomorrow economically. I am not saying this is going to happen, but I do say that the real potential recoverable oil reserves are a complete wildcard. And then there are techniqies like nano and steam, enabling oil companies to return to ‘depleted’ oil fields and retrieve much more oil than previously was possible.

    – About the oil drum: chances are that they sneaked away on a pretext. And that in reality they became convinced that the real total peak oil event will occur say in 2030 and that that was too far away in the future to keep the TOD operation going. If there is no war immanent, nobody can afford to keep an army mobilised for too long (unless you own a reserve currency, but I digress).

    – Is peak oil dead? Yes and no. There is probably plenty of fossil for at least 1-2 decades to come. But at a much higher price and to be harvested at a much higher environmental cost. The positive aspect is that these new conditions provide for a transition path without collapse and massive dieoff and that renewable energy sources will become competitive and a chance to gain a foothold.

  2. SILENTTODD on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 11:57 am 

    So Matt Savinar became an Astologer? Oh well even Newton believed in it too, something that gave Edmund Halley a chuckle.

  3. mo on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 1:02 pm 

    Newton was an alchemist

  4. mo on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 1:10 pm 

    Were paying for all that new oil dearly. Just cart the price at the pump for the last few years

  5. DMyers on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 1:43 pm 

    “The probability of any disaster scenario occurring is indirectly proportional to the degree it is hyped by the media/Internet etc.”

    Let me suggest an equally important law of the same nature.

    The probability that an issue or phenomenon is being overly hyped and fraudulently represented is directly proportional to the extent that its media coverage is repetitious, full of optimism, and has a clear relationship with economic outcomes from which media owning entities or their patrons may benefit.

    The above law applies to the fracking phenomenon and all the claims made regarding its potential. The repeated articles encouraging us to rejoice, drill and drive because we have this huge store of “oil” belie an intent to create a deception.

    Unconventional oil is like unconventional anything, i.e., it is not the real thing but a replacement or substitute. Unconventional oil is not real oil. I illustrate my point by asking, if you were offered fifty square miles of underground shale or the same volume of conventional oil (same price), which would you take? And what would be your analytical criteria?

    The real wild card in all of this is presently occupied with being one of a house of cards known as our financial system.

  6. rollin on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 2:20 pm 

    The oil drum will be sorely missed for it’s high level articles and discussions about oil and gas. Public awareness of the fossil fuel and climate change scenarios is being rapidly diminished.
    A lot less reality is going to come out of the government on climate change, now that Hansen is out of the Goddard Institute.

    Welcome to the land of ostriches and zombies. Too bad. Public “education” is not preparing our young people for the future or even today.

  7. Jerry McManus on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 4:53 pm 

    I saw a brilliant definition of Ponzi dynamics the other day: Spending down accumulated capital to pay out increasing demands for income.

    That dynamic always ends in collapse at the point when the available capital can no longer meet the demands for income. Just ask Bernie Madoff.

    At that point all incomes typically drop to zero, although it may be possible for a few to adjust to greatly reduced incomes that are not tied to further expenditures of capital.

    Peak oil has not been “debunked” just because a few egotistical blogs have bit the dust. We just haven’t finished burning through our capital yet.

    Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

  8. Beery on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 5:44 pm 

    Deniers love to crow whenever any news hits that they can hold onto as evidence to support their view. What they choose to grab onto shows how desperate they are. This time, all that’s happened is that a website is closing down. Yeah, I guess that is “overwhelming evidence” that peak oil is dead. LOL.

  9. DC on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 6:06 pm 

    The fact of PO has nothing to do with ToD. I stopped visiting there ages ago for PO related news and articles myself. Depletion is a relentless thing, it happens whether you choose to believe in it or not. As for the assertion technology ‘improves’ things. Well, no, it doesn’t actually. What it does do, is allow (often) lower quality substitutes to be processed at a somewhat economical costs. At least for a time, until the ‘substitute’ itself becomes too expensive for people to bear, then the call for new ‘tech’ begins anew. The tech, is really a search for cost-effective ways to deplete a given resource faster.

  10. Arthur on Thu, 1st Aug 2013 8:05 pm 

    “The fact of PO has nothing to do with ToD.”

    Not the fact of PO itself, but possibly (likely) the timing.

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