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" -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Peak Oil: Laherrère, Real Curves, and Official Curves
graph above is Figure 11 from Jean Laherrère, "World Oil and
Gas Production Forecasts up to 2100," The Oil Drum, July 16,
on some of Laherrère's abbreviations:
AEO = Annual Energy
Outlook (from EIA) (= US Energy Information Administration)
= trillion barrels
= ultimate recoverable
WEO = World Energy
Outlook (from IEA) ( = International Energy Agency)
WOO = World Oil
Outlook (from OPEC)
The thin blue line at
the top right is Laherrère's prediction of the grand totals,
differing considerably from the others.
He explains: "The
confidential technical data on [mean values of proven + probable
reserves] is only available from expensive and very large scout
databases. . . . There is a huge difference between the
political/financial proved reserves [so-called], and the confidential
technical [proven + probable] reserves. . . . Most economists . . .
rely only on the proved reserves coming from [the Oil and Gas
Journal, the US Energy Information Administration], BP and OPEC data,
which are wrong; they have no access to the confidential technical
The difference between his figures and the various government figures
is enormous. It reminds me of the 1950s, when M.K. Hubbert and others
were saying one thing, and the government was saying quite the
A few years ago I met someone who told me that his father had been a
geoscientist in the 1950s. Back in those early days, the father had
told the son about "peak oil" (in the years to come), but
the father also said he would risk being fired if he made any public
It's considered bad for business to tell your investors that you're
going to be running out of product to sell. To me that sounds in some
ways like superstitious nonsense. Surely if a product becomes rarer,
each unit of that product gains more financial value for its owner. I
suspect the real answer to that question, though, is closer to what
Colin Campbell said to Adam Porter in 2004: "If the real figures
were to come out there would be panic on the stock markets. . . ."
The general public must be kept happy but ignorant. Well, maybe not
too happy, but certainly ignorant, as anyone knows who has had tried
to deal with any important global issue, from pollution to
population. Newspapers aren't allowed to print bad news, at least not
bad news that would shake anyone up. And the only books one is
supposed to read are high-school romances. Orwell had it right, a
perfect score (except for the title) when he wrote 1984.
of a conversation I have at irregular intervals with people I meet.
They say, "Everyone knows what Freud/Marx/Darwin said. He was a
terrible man." "Have you ever read any of his books?"
Without embarrassment, the answer is an angry "no!" In
other words, "Why should I read the books of such a terrible
Oh, well, even Galileo
had to deal with disinformation, so who am I to complain?
R. (2013). Snake oil: How fracking's false promise of plenty
imperils our future. Santa Rosa,
California: Post Carbon Institute.
M., Hirsch, R., & Aleklett, K. (2009, June). Giant oil field
decline rates and their influence on world oil production. Energy
Volume 37, Issue 6, pp. 2262-72. Retrieved from