Talk:Peak oil

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AGGG. I'm, still drafting this! Didn't mean to save!--Bobbing up 03:39, 16 November 2007 (EST) Having missed the interesting "hydrogen economy" debate last night I thought I would contribute a peak oil stub.--Bobbing up 03:50, 16 November 2007 (EST)

Well, whatever you started, it's coming along quite nicely now! humanUser talk:Human 12:31, 16 November 2007 (EST)

Oil Price[edit]

Wow. When we wrote this in November oil was "only" 100 dollars - and we we were worried. Now it's 140.

Was it even a hundred when that was written? The tone suggests not - I think it was around 70ish back then, and even that was making people nervous! Nice catch, though. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:00, 28 June 2008 (EDT)
This graph isn't too clear but it looks like around 100 at the end of the year.--Bobbing up 17:48, 28 June 2008 (EDT)
And now it's 35. Secret Squirrel 20:23, 22 February 2009 (EST)
This article is way too generous toward the peak oil theory. Aren't we supposed to be, you know, debunking crank ideas? Secret Squirrel 20:24, 22 February 2009 (EST)
Peak oil debunks the cranks who think we'll never run out? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:19, 22 February 2009 (EST)
They're both cranks. The cranks who think we'll never run out tend toward discredited pseudoscience like abiogenic theory, and the peak oil cranks think that all the oil that will ever be known is already known, nothing new will be discovered, no new technologies will emerge to improve efficiency of oil production from sources like shale, and worst of all (in the sense of being a questionable and probably a pseudoscientific belief) insist that oil production inevitably peaks at exactly the point where 50% of the available oil has been used. Secret Squirrel 22:06, 22 February 2009 (EST)
That's great wording to put into the article. You should try to clean up the article if they let you without reverting. Teabag 22:09, 22 February 2009 (EST)
Where to begin though? Even the opening sentence doesn't really summarize the Hubbert's Peak theory (coined in 1956 by a Shell Oil geologist), which is what "peak oil" is really based on. Nothing in the article makes any allowance for new technologies nor for replacement energy sources to gradually replace oil if/when the peak does occur. The dismissal of renewable energy in particular seems derived from the extreme pessimism of James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency et al, and fosters a counterproductive "why bother" attitude toward, for example, global warming - if renewables are unfeasible and the only thing we have to fall back on when oil runs out is coal, why bother? Fact is, renewables are not unfeasible, especially as economies of scale push the costs of them way down (including such currently disparaged things as biodiesel and ethanol, not to mention solar) and then there is the likelihood of many new energy sources we don't even know about yet. Science has never failed in the past to discover replacement technologies, more efficient uses of energy, and more diverse sources of energy, and I don't expect any different in the future; indeed, replacement technologies have tended to be developed and implemented well before any natural obsolescence of then-existing technologies. The market bubble of 2005-2008 wasn't a sign of peak-anything, it was a speculative market bubble. Nobody knows when oil is going to run out, what new sources have yet to be discovered, or what new technologies will both augment oil and improve production efficiency from currently difficult sources. This is just what comes to mind right now. Secret Squirrel 22:46, 22 February 2009 (EST)

No. Peak oil is one of the "world is coming to an end" groups. The advocates like to stockpile canned tuna and ammo. The line in the article

But at some point it is obvious that we will have used half the available oil on the planet and global production will start to drop.

Is obviously false. There isn't one big pot of oil, rather a continuum of easy-to-get to hard-to-get oil. Teabag 21:28, 22 February 2009 (EST)

True, and the idea of "peak oil" can transition as technology and pricing affect productive capacity. But in the end... it will run out. The peak oil idea is to try to get a handle on when the "supplies", ie, actual pumped oil, will no longer increase from a given field, and of course, inevitably, the entire resource. Thing is, we have hundreds of years of coal in the ground, say. But the oil supply is running dry inside the span of human lifetimes. I go re-read article now though. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:11, 23 February 2009 (EST)
The continuum is "easy to get" to "hard to get" to "prohibitively expensive to get" to "none". We're starting to enter hard to get now. Once we are well into that we're starting down the reduced production side of the graph. And now there is another problem - when oil was really expensive a lot of new exploration was being undertaken but, with the fall in price, most of that has been shelved. When (or perhaps if) we get our of this recession and demand builds again, the investment in those potential new fields won't have been made which will exacerbate the "problem". I say "problem" becasue if there is no oil then we'll have to concentrate more on renewables, which would not be such a bad thing. Of course investment in them has dried up too at the moment.--Bobbing up 04:56, 23 February 2009 (EST)
Yes, but.... I want a windmill in my backyard! (I have a nice breeze, and am on a hill) ħumanUser talk:Human 05:55, 23 February 2009 (EST)
The problem with the above is it assumes a steady continuum from easy -> hard -> prohibitively expensive -> none, and assumes no further changes in technology nor allowing for "prohibitively expensive" becoming "not so expensive after all" once new technologies and economies of scale kick in. Nor am I particularly convinced we have entered the "hard" stage, nor that we ever will. The continuum may look more like this: easy and cheap -> easy and more expensive due to OPEC introducing a market distortion -> easy and cheap -> easy and more expensive due to Hugo Chavez, the Iraq War, and irrational fears of peak oil scaring investors into running oil prices up in a speculative bubble -> easy and cheap -> easy and even more cheap once ANWR is opened up (which it inevitably will, not a matter of if but when) -> (...and hundreds of years later...) -> almost out, but by then it won't matter since new technologies we couldn't have even imagined now will have long since come online. Secret Squirrel 08:17, 23 February 2009 (EST)
I'm confused SS. Are you suggesting that the supply of oil is in some way infinite? That it simply can't run out as long and people are prepared to spend money on it?--Bobbing up 12:31, 23 February 2009 (EST)
No, not infinite, but that the available supply will continue to go up and down and will only begin to drop sharply very late in the game, but by then it won't matter because petroleum will have already been replaced by multiple other energy sources, some already known and some yet to be discovered. Peak oil claims the available supply is in an inverted V, that we're already at or past the peak, and that nothing but doom and disaster lie ahead. I suspect it's more of a squiggly line, going up and down as new technologies improving and cheapening production, new discoveries, market distortions, political turmoil, and exhaustion of existing producing regions pull both ways. No one real "peak", a lot of mini-peaks and valleys, with the sharp drop only occurring well in the future as supplies approach exhaustion, which would be well beyond our lifetimes. And again, whatever transportation we have will by then be powered by so many diverse new sources (fuel cells, hydrogen, biodiesel, probably many yet undiscovered) that oil finally dwindling will be a big non-event when it finally does occur. What I find most unsettling about the current infatuation with "peak oil" is the underlying assumption that technology will remain frozen where it is now for the indefinite future, and that all renewables are vaporware and can never replace cheap oil. This is not consistent with most of human history, and it is an inherently pessimistic, anti-science view. Yeah, there was one period in human history where technology levels froze in place for hundreds of years. It's called the Dark Ages for a reason. I don't expect a repeat of that ever. Secret Squirrel 13:45, 23 February 2009 (EST)
You appear to know very little about the oil business and I haven't got time to put you right at the moment. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 14:11, 23 February 2009 (EST)
Which is another way of saying you don't have anything substantial to add to this discussion. Secret Squirrel 16:04, 24 February 2009 (EST)
No. I have been in the oil exploration business for 36 years but right now have other things to attend to. I'm a married guy with a life and a dead mother-in-law, so can't afford the time just at the moment. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 16:27, 24 February 2009 (EST)
Wishful thinking. --Beneficii (talk) 21:09, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Dead people aside, Squirrel is right why Peak Oil proponents ( as I've seen ) are full of it. They imply a catastrophe. There is plenty of coal that can be ( expensively ) converted to oil. I could go on, but I'm too busy/important to write a few more paragraph, although I'll come back and tell you you're stupid if you disagree. Teabag 02:03, 28 February 2009 (EST)

Converting coal to oil is a disaster unless you're an AGW denialist. --Beneficii (talk) 21:09, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
There is considerable research on whether high energy prices reduce economic growth:"energy+prices"+"economic+growth"
It has been suggested that the resulting economic stagnation and decline will be the proximate cause of the peak. Keith McClary (talk) 21:51, 13 November 2017 (UTC)


  • Large numbers of unemployed people will be an inevitable consequence of a lack of and/or peak oil, as "dried up" oil wells will close down, leaving unemployed workers in their wake.

Whilst there are indeed a large number of people working in the petroleum industry, that number is small relative to all sectors of employment. So small in fact, that I think the number of people who will be out of work due to refineries etc shutting down (and not moving in to other energy sectors) is absoluetly insignificant, and as such should not be mentioned in the article. Thoughts? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 23:46, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

For comparison look at the UK coal industry. / 23:50, 15 March 2010 (UTC) SusanGContribsTalk
Do I have to? I grew up in the shadow of it, but no nothing of it other than that it was dirty, dangerous, and a tremendous "boon to industry". ħumanUser talk:Human 02:53, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
No, but it was much more labour intensive than the oil producing industry & thousands (whole villages and towns in some cases) were thrown out of work when the pits were closed. In the thirty or so years since the slack(!) as been taken up, though. I worked in an allied industry at the time of the miner's strike and saw first hand the turmoil, I drove home nightly past Orgreave pit. 03:00, 16 March 2010 (UTC) SusanGContribsTalk
Just be glad your cops never get issued M16s (largely defensive American weapons of automatic fire), or it might have been a massacre. By the way, that's a fairly shoddy WP article (style and flow etc.). ħumanUser talk:Human 04:18, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

"Peak oil per capita"[edit]

I remember hearing somewhere that the amount of oil used per capita peaked ca. 1980 and has since been declining. I'm sceptical about this, as I wasn't able to find a citation for this. Plus, China and India are currently industrialising. I couldn't find much with Google; could somebody confirm/refute this claim? Thanks. File:Planarian Latin.pngI like planaria, but I don't speak Latin 02:37, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

China's industrialization is quite different from that of Europe or the US. In just a few years, China built the longest electrified High speed rail network in the world. Just in 2014, China added more wind power generating capacity than exists in all but three countries (them being China, the US and Germany), so I very much doubt that China will ever use as much oil per capita as the US in its worst days did. Furthermore peak carWikipedia suggests, that vehicle miles traveled are on a downward slope and in the US the per capita vehicle miles seems to have plateaued at or slightly before the recent economic downturn and not gone up since... In addition to that Amtrak is posing record ridership - and that is the most oil dependent major country there is. So it may well be that the per capita consumption of oil has peaked already... It would be very good news.. Avengerofthe BoN (talk) 16:32, 16 August 2015 (UTC)

Bullshit and squirrelshit[edit]

This page has been dead for years and this reply is addressed to an apparently inactive user so I'll keep it a lot shorter than I otherwise would.

Secret Squirrel is wrong. If you look at the long-term trend oil prices have actually been rising for decades and that isn't just the result of market forces but reflects the lower returns on investment over time. Oil and gas companies never stop looking for new untapped sources because they don't like the prospect of losing money if some other company secures the rights to them first. Also searching constantly are many net importers who hope to somewhat wean themselves off foreign oil and of course OPEC countries that hope to bring in more revenue. The idea that we drill until what we have runs out and then search for other sources is absurd. But guess what, discovery rates have plummeted and much of what is found is geologically unable to be extracted or too costly.

There was no shale revolution. It was rather another wall street scam. Around the time you were posting your comment, there were bold statements that shale will give us 100 to 200 years of energy independence that at my time of writing are considered laughable. The idea that we have "hundreds of years" of available fossil fuel energy at current rates would be true if it were possible to get them all out of the ground. But we can't. Coal deeper than 4000ft is usually not economic to mine, yet coal that is buried 8000ft down is treated as one and the same as readily available reserves on the world's energy balance sheet. It's unreasonable to expect new technology to overcome geologic hurdles (fracking is an old technology by the way) because there's a limit to how much we can do with our drills, pumps and other equipment even if we're willing to ignore massive environmental devastation and economic impracticality. But this economic impracticality is the reason the shale bubble is going bust as many companies go bankrupt.

Instead of talking about technology and human ingenuity you should talk about specific technologies and specific instances of human ingenuity that are around to help. We have been trying to electrify our vehicle fleet and trains for ages but we didn't do it. We've been trying to make fusion commercial for a long time and we screwed up. We recently tried to find an efficient way to produce fuels using synthetic biology and we screwed up. Isn't some skepticism about the ingenuity hype in order?

The idea that things like solar and wind can meet the humongous energy demands of civilization is believable only if you completely ignore something called scale and the fact that these hi-tech toys depend on fossil fuels from start to finish. There are cases when their application is financially sound but they won't replace fossil-fuel derived electricity. Speaking of electricity, we could do without it if we gave up a huge number of comforts. But nothing resembling civilization can go on without the diesel engine. And the heavy-duty trucks, tractors, harvesters, ships and freight trains can't be electrified. Gewgtweg (talk) 01:24, 27 October 2018 (UTC)

It has already happened...[edit]

According to BP, Peak Oil was surpassed three years ago. On the other hand, the IEA has admitted in its 2020s report about a drastic decreasing in oil production down to 50% by 2030. And new studies shows it´s too late to fight climate change, as we´re going in path to 5ºC anyways... Nitrato de Chile (talk) 14:16, 10 July 2021 (UTC) Nitrato de Chile