Our world runs on fossil fuels. Annual production of usable, recoverable oil will drop to half of the peak amount around 2030. The social effects will include crime, cults, craziness, and chaos. "Peak oil," however, basically means "peak food." Those who survive will be those who have mastered the art of subsistence farming. -- Peter Goodchild, author, "Tumbling Tide: Population, Petroleum, and Systemic Collapse" -- email@example.com
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The Decline Rate of the World's Oil Supply
fast is the world's usable oil going to run out? Conservative
estimates of the average annual decline rate are in the range of 1 or
2%. But there are several experts who have suspected a much higher
rate, as can be seen in the articles mentioned below.
curve," incidentally, has a number of definitions (equations). A
simple but quite useful one is "(year1-year2)/year1." For a
detailed discussion of this and other definitions, see:
should also be mentioned that much of the study of decline rates is
based on that of giant fields, rather than smaller ones. At the end
of the present article can be found some comments on this matter,
particularly with regard to an article by Höök,
Hirsch, and Aleklett.
On page 3 of his article, Foucher
says that "production from the super-giant and giant oil fields
is the cornerstone of modern oil production. In the top 20, 16 of
them are in decline." Does this mean specifically that analyses
of these larger fields give us a good indication of overall global
decline rates? Or, for that matter, is it also the case that the
smaller fields have even higher decline rates? If so, then one might
add a fourth study to the three mentioned above:
Höök, Mikael, Robert Hirsch, and Kjell Aleklett. Giant oil field
decline rates and their influence on world oil production. Energy
Policy, Volume 37,
Issue 6, June 2009, Pages 2262-2272
On p. 19, these authors state: ".
. . The decline of smaller fields is equal to or greater than those
of the giants. . . . We believe that the decline in existing
production, both for giants and for other fields, will be at least
6.5% or 5.5% if production weighted."
Discussion of very fast decline
rates can also be found throughout a detailed study of Saudi oil
Simmons, M. R. (2006). Twilight
in the desert: The coming Saudi oil shock and the world economy.
Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
to Simmons, the Saudis realize that any announcement of a loss of
product (as in businesses of any sort) would be bad publicity.
Simmons also claims that the present high level of Saudi production
is maintained only by enhanced techniques such as water-flooding, and
that such techniques mean that the decline can be delayed but that it
will eventually be much faster than otherwise.
annual decline rate of 6% would mean that oil production will fall to
half of its peak level in about 12 years after the peak date. If so,
let's not forget to duck.