Peak Oil

Peak Oil Just Got Worse

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 03, 2007

Raise the Hammer hasn't published any peak oil related articles recently, but we continue to follow the subject in case any new developments indicate the need to revise our conclusions.

Well, a new development indicates the need to revise our conclusions.

The Oil Drum, a gushing wellhead of oil-industry related news and analysis that has quickly become one of the best resources on the net for peak oil researchers, recently published a new report suggesting that the situation may actually be considerably worse than even peak-oilers expected.

As the article and associated comment thread suggest, oil exporting countries that pass their production peaks are losing oil production at approximately the rates predicted by Hubbert's model, but reducing their exports much more rapidly.

As the report's author, Jeffrey Brown, an independent oil geologist based in Dallas, explains that he and another researcher are working:

on projections for future production and exports by at least the top five net exporters (that accounted for half of world net exports in 2006). The HL [Hubbert Linearization] based projections will not be a pretty picture.

In any case, for the top five, if you assume a 5 percent decline in production (the top four showed about a 4.4 percent decline from 2005 to 2006), and a 5 percent rate of increase in consumption (which is below their 2005 to 2006 increase), net exports by the top five would initially decline at about 10 percent per year. Note that in later years, the decline rate, based on the Export Land Model, tends to increase. Based on the 5 percent/5 percent assumptions, net exports by the top five would be at about zero in 14 years. [emphasis added]

In other words: things are about to get really bad.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 04, 2007 at 10:50:05

Of course... once it's been stated it seems so obvious. Any countries whose production is below consumption are going to see a much steeper down-slope as their exporting neighbours refuse to send them any of the good stuff anymore.

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By David (anonymous) | Posted July 19, 2007 at 02:27:45

Some very sobering charts in those links, which seem to indicate we are at peak or even slightly past peak. The prices do seem to reflect that. Yet there is suddenly an over-abundance of conflicting data that tries to suggest we should go ahead and buy that hemi-powered car after all. It's very hard to understand how reports about someing so finite can be so different, unless someone is seriously lying.

If siding with the charts, the question is where the equilibrium point occurs. Certainly as some point, the economic devastation would dramatically reduce consumption, and perhaps so much of the economy can't be erased without bringing the rest down. And what would society look like at that point, with all work incentives gone?

Yet contrast this agaist the Message in a Bottle, where people will buy bottles of Fiji water, requiring the bottles to be shipped in, and this water transported around the world. Activities such as this seem as such stark stupidity in the face of what lies just around the corner. As some us hunker down with the thought of a life of foraging for nuts and berries, the Chinamart consumption goes on as if it will so be for the next 100 years.

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