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The End of Peak Oil

May 8, 2012

In 1956 a geologist, M. King Hubbert, set in motion a hypothesis, often referred to as a theory, that oil production would peak and that after the peak, there would be a diminishing supply of oil throughout the world.

Many subscribed to this hypothesis and published articles and books promoting the concept. There are even web sites devoted to promoting the idea that we would be running out of oil.

Hubbert originally based his hypothesis on what was happening in Texas in the 1950s, where Texas oil production was declining.

The idea that we would run out of oil was part and parcel of Malthusian thinking, that the world only has finite resources. While Malthusian thinking has been consistently debunked, it serves the purpose of those who would like to control the economy.

In the Malthusian view, government must control the use of resources so they may be evenly distributed to people around the world.

Malthusian thinking is anathema to those who believe that science and mankind can develop more resources, or alternatives to any resources that may be in dwindling supply, so that the economy can continue to grow for the benefit of all mankind.

The free market has consistently shown that it is superior to Malthusian thinking and government control.

Now Hubbert’s “Peak Oil” hypothesis goes the way of all Malthusian thought.

“Peak Oil” is dead.

It has been killed by the free market and innovation.

Initially, development of oil from deep under the sea undermined the peak oil hypothesis.

Now, innovators have developed fracking to extract natural gas and oil from shale.

Fracking has made huge supplies of oil and natural gas available in the United States and around the world.

Today, the United States has, within its grasp, the ability to become self sufficient in the production of oil.

There are many countries around the world, besides the United States, where there are large shale basins that can produce oil and natural gas.

The EIA has identified China, Argentina, Canada, South Africa and Australia, besides the United States, as having large technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources. Even Europe has some, as does Russia.

“Peak Oil” is dead, though there will be people who will continue to flog a dead horse to promote their political agendas.

“Peak Oil” is finished for this century, and probably the next.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. kakatoa permalink
    May 8, 2012 10:13 am


    Your post covers human ingenuity to a T. I was reading a bit about the Kyoto agreement and your post covers why/how models can be overturned with innovation!

    From the – “Uncertainties in the Analysis” section……… of
    “Greenhouse Gases and the Kyoto Protocol”

    …..”Results from any model or analysis are highly uncertain. By their nature, energy models are simplified representations of complex energy markets. The results of any analysis are highly dependent on the specific data, assumptions, behavioral characteristics, methodologies, and model structures included. In addition, many of the factors that influence the future development of energy markets are highly uncertain, including weather, political and economic disruptions, technology development, and policy initiatives………..”

  2. May 8, 2012 3:29 pm

    It is even better than you think. recently the US and Japan extracted methane from methane clathrates for a month. The resource is many times greater than all the fossil fuels extracted so far.

    “The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday announced a breakthrough in research into tapping a possibly vast fuel resource that could eventually bolster already massive U.S. natural gas reserves. By injecting a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into a methane hydrate formation on Alaska’s North Slope, the department was able to produce a steady flow of natural gas in the first field test of this method.”

  3. May 8, 2012 3:53 pm

    Bryan, thanks. I saw the DOE release and it looks very promising.
    It will really be a game changer when the extraction process is fully developed.
    I’m interested in finding what the costs are, but haven’t seen anything on that subject yet.

  4. May 22, 2012 10:56 pm

    Donn….It would be interesting to see an estimate of shale-oil production through
    the next ten years. Where in the USA? How much from each area to get to zero imports?
    To get there we’ll need about 6-8 million bd..?
    Can you come up with a rough estimate of this?
    Really great if you could.
    Vern Cornell San Diego

    • May 27, 2012 3:34 pm

      Not sure my estimates of oil from shale from each region, i.e., Bakken, Utica, Marcellus, Eagle Ford, etc., is any more accurate than the others made be CERA etc.
      My article also said that all areas in the United States currently off-limits to drilling should be opened up for drilling. This includes the OCS, federal lands and ANWR.
      Fracking is the key to our recognizing that we can achieve independence from OPEC and regain greater control over our destiny, including the reindustrialization of America.


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