Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hubbert's Peak. The oil crash.

  1. May 30, 2007 #1
    In 1956, Hubbert proposed that fossil fuel production in a given region over time would follow a bell-shaped curve without giving a precise formula; he later used the Hubbert curve, the derivative of the logistic curve, for estimating future production.

    Hubbert assumed that after fossil fuel reserves (oil reserves, coal reserves, and natural gas reserves) are discovered, production at first increases approximately exponentially, as more extraction commences and more efficient facilities are installed. At some point, a peak output is reached, and production begins declining until it approximates an exponential decline.

    Hubbert, in his 1956 paper predicted that the United states would peak in 1970, he was laughed at by nay sayers and lost most of the credibility he had.
    however. 1970 came and USA peaked.
    Today USA has 2% of the world's crude oil deposits yet produce 8% of the worlds oil. However they consume 25% of the world's produced oil.

    India and China are massive consumers on the rise. China replaced japan as the second biggest importer of oil a few years back and shows no signs of slowing down, quite the opposite. 10% annual growth in economy which will mean that in 7 years it will double.

    Here is the problem. The world needs more oil then it can produce, the need will increase and the supply will decrease.
    What will follow in the decline of oil is panic, famine and wars.
    the oil peak has been discussed by the best paid, most respected scientists the world over and while some of them say the peak came in december 2006, some say it may be as much as a few years left before it happens.

    I have included links that will give you a cleared understanding of the events to come and the impact it will have for you in the times ahead.

    http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ [Broken] : Extensive research thesis. by Matt Savinar.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubbert_peak : Basic description.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil : Basic description.

    this is a documentary i would recommend watching, it covers what will happen to the American society once Hubbert's peak is in terminal decline.

    This is another documentary that should be watched. It covers most of the Hubbert's peak information available at this date.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2007 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Why is that necessarily true?

    In any case, there is a pretty basic flaw in the theory, and that is the fact that in it's current form, it can't adequately deal with the economic and technological complexities/advancements of certain industries. Oil is not just a single product from a single type of source. There are many types/grades and sources and each has it's own unique technical challenges. Every time the price increases over a certain threshold or technology changes, the old curve becomes invalid. For example, Canada sits atop a reserve twice the size of the Middle East's, but most is not currently economically viable. But if price increases much more or technology changes, it will be.
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  4. May 30, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I'm a Canadian, and I'm somewhat against extracting all of the oil in Alberta. First, we have a terrible free trade agreement with the US. I have no idea what the politicians were popping when they made that agreement. Second, it will destroy the surrounding environment completely.

    The only purpose I can accept taking the oil out of Alberta is to help make the transition from oil to other alternative energies smoother and NOT to continue on with our wreckless use of oil.
  5. May 30, 2007 #4

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    At some point the price of fuel makes alternatives competitive, and one would expect that the market prices for petro should seek equilibrium as this occurs. But in the mean time it could be a very bumpy road. What worries me most are transients in market prices due to political problems, storms, etc. This could cause some real problems economically. Some of the gloom and doomers talk about spikes as high as $15 per gallon for gasoline as a possiblity, at times.
  6. May 30, 2007 #5
    this is a quote from Matt Savinar.
    "What About the Oil Sands in Canada and the Oil Shale in the American West?

    The good news is that we have a massive amount of untapped "non conventional" oil located in the oil sands up in Canada. The bad news is that, unlike conventional sources of oil, oil derived from these oil sands is extremely financially and energetically intensive to extract. Whereas conventional oil has enjoyed a rate of "energy return on energy invested" (EROEI) of about 30 to 1, the oil sands rate of return hovers around 1.5 to 1. This means that we would have to expend 20 times as much energy to generate the same amount of oil from the oil sands as we do from conventional sources of oil.

    More optimistic reports anticipate 4 million barrels per day of oil coming from the oil sands by 2020. Even if the optimists are correct, 4 million barrels per day isn't that much oil when you consider our colossal and ever-growing demand in conjunction with the small amount of time we have left before the global peak:

    -We currently need 83.5 million barrels per day.

    -We are projected to need 120 million barrels per day by

    -We will be losing over 1 million barrels per day of production
    per year, every year, once we hit the backside of the
    global oil production curve.

    -The general consensus among now disinterested scientists
    is that oil production will peak by 2010 at the latest.
  7. May 30, 2007 #6
    We are just doomed, please refer to the bike thread. :rolleyes: Technology will find a way and if it doesn't we humans are just going to have to change the way we go about our day to day business. BTW, I havn't noticed any of the refineries here closing up shop, so don't panic too much just yet.
  8. May 30, 2007 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Who get's to say what constitutes a "disinterested" scientist is (whatever that is and assuming that's even a good thing...)? How "disinterested" is someone selling a book anyway? This person is not The Authority on this subject. He may be right, but he certainly doesn't represent the majority viewpoint. See graphs here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5374852
    I was in elementary school in the '80s and remember people predicting back then that we had 20 years left before oil was gone. This is a common doom-and-gloom scenario that I just don't buy into. Yes, production will peak and yes it will fall after that - but it isn't here yet and it won't be nearly so dramatic when it is.
  9. May 30, 2007 #8
    I know the thesis is long but it is full of grim facts, so if you actually read it you would have noticed this.

    "If the actions - rather than the words - of the oil business's major players provide the best gauge of how they see the future, then ponder the following. Crude oil prices have doubled since 2001, but oil companies have increased their budgets for exploring new oil fields by only a small fraction. Likewise, U.S. refineries are working close to capacity, yet no new refinery has been constructed since 1976. And oil tankers are fully booked, but outdated ships are being decommissioned faster than new ones are being built."

    also you would have found this link embedded in the thesis.
    in which it confirms that statement.

    also i find this statement to be intresting.

    "In addition to lowering their investments in oil exploration and refinery expansion, oil companies have been merging as though the industry is living on borrowed time:"

    December 1998: BP and Amoco merge;
    April 1999: BP-Amoco and Arco agree to merge;
    December 1999: Exxon and Mobil merge;
    October 2000: Chevron and Texaco agree to merge;
    November 2001: Phillips and Conoco agree to merge;
    September 2002: Shell acquires Penzoil-Quaker State;
    February 2003: Frontier Oil and Holly agree to merge;
    March 2004: Marathon acquires 40% of Ashland;
    April 2004: Westport Resources acquires Kerr-McGee;
    July 2004: Analysts suggest BP and Shell merge;
    April 2005: Chevron-Texaco and Unocal merge;
    June 2005: Royal Dutch and Shell merge;
    July 2005: China begins trying to acquire Unocal
    June 2006: Andarko proposes buying Kerr McGee
  10. May 30, 2007 #9
    Disintrested scientists are a term for scientists not affiliated with politics.
    not democrats, not republicans etc.

    well what they said back then could very well be true matt.
    it is now 2007 thats 27 years since 1980. some say we peaked in december in 2006.
    it does not matter if it was in 2006 or if it is this year or the next..
    It will not even matter if its 2010. because the world will not react before it is already here and then all hell will break loose.

    increased gas prices is just the tip of the mountain. Everything that is high tech today has some use of oil. plastic, cosmetics, transport and medicine, the list goes on and on.
  11. May 30, 2007 #10

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    That optimistic "Rosy outlook" by Yergin of CERA might be an industry-biased, right-leaning wishful thinking, but then again...


    Here's what he has to say on the topic in that "right-wing rag" The Washington Post. Yes that's ironic sarcasm, you guys still don't know me?

    Regardless, some analysts say we are already past peak production; the most optimistic outlook puts the peak 20 years hence. I do not think disaster will ensue, but there is gonna be some kind of change, and travel will be very expensive.
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  12. May 30, 2007 #11
    I belive so too, air travel will be eliminated for all but the super rich.
    car pools will be for those with life savings accounts.
    oil heated houses will be a thing of the past.
    Un-employment in america where the car industry directly and indirectly gives jobs to 1/5 of the work force is goin to soar.

    Not to mention the jam the american's have put themselves in with their suburbs. millions of homes miles away from where they work.
    It's going to get ugly unless politicians makes some tough choices right now.
    Extremely un-popular choices.

    what do you think the Americans will say when their leaders tell them that suv's have to be abolished and that should ride with their neighbors to the city for work each day. That is NOT going to happen.
    While Europeans have well developed railway systems they can fall back on the americans do not. what they have is 6 lane interstate highways.
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  13. May 30, 2007 #12


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    [QUOTE = Russ Waters] In any case, there is a pretty basic flaw in the theory, and that is the fact that in it's current form, it can't adequately deal with the economic and technological complexities/advancements of certain industries. Oil is not just a single product from a single type of source. There are many types/grades and sources and each has it's own unique technical challenges. Every time the price increases over a certain threshold or technology changes, the old curve becomes invalid. For example, Canada sits atop a reserve twice the size of the Middle East's, but most is not currently economically viable. But if price increases much more or technology changes, it will be. [/QUOTE]

    [QUOTE = Russ Waters] Yes, production will peak and yes it will fall after that - but it isn't here yet and it won't be nearly so dramatic when it is. [/QUOTE]

    your entire point in this thread is unclear. You seem to say that thru technology we can avoid peak oil and that even if peak oil should be a reality that it well have no effect. You are correct that the actual point of peak oil will come and go with no real noticable effecfs. However, I do not understand how you can deny the long term effects. Even thou you may not want to admit it there is a finite amount of oil on this earth, this means that at some point in time there will not be enough oil to supply all of the demands. Your response seems to be "don't worry be happy" That sure seems like something a diry hippy would say. (hey if you can put words in the mouth of a non existant sub culture why can't I?)
    If you indeed believe that a ever diminshing oil supply is not a critical matter..well, You need to extract your head from the sand.
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  14. May 30, 2007 #13


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Jeez, the book is even self-published and the author has no background in oil or economics. This is just trash.

    Here are some people with more reasonable qualifications who support the theory, but the problems are obvious:

    The year the organization formed, they predicted peak oil that year and have since pushed it back twice! That's a truly spectacular predictive failure.
  15. May 30, 2007 #14

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper


    Otherwise I agree with Jason here. If ever there were a good argument for the necessity of environmental laws, the oil-sands of Alberta is it. You know it. YOu don't have to lean left or right to acknowledge that unchecked industry would strip 1/4 of the province of Alberta as quickly as possible to maximize profit for those who are currently living. That's the way humans are.

    A slow stripping of the oil sands (over centuries) will provide at the very least for the "other" petrolium needs (plastics and lubricants, I'm thinking).

    I'm convinced nuclear fission will make a comeback. It will be the only choice at some point, at least until fusion is figured out.

    Hopefully, we'll have fusion figured out
  16. May 30, 2007 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    So you deny that peak oil will occur?
  17. May 30, 2007 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    There will, of course, be a peak. What I have a problem with is:

    1. Predictions of a peak by that has already come and gone are often wrong the year they come out (from my previous post). These predictions are often made by alarmists with an adjenda (selling a book) and no personal qualifications to be doing such research.

    2. Predictions of a spectacular decline in society are based-on....what? Our $70 a barrel oil is really destroying the economy right now, isn't it....? If liberals believed their eyes, they'd be scratching their heads in confusion over why the economy is charging-along right now.
    They are predictions without basis, typically made by people with a clear personal adjenda.
    I'm not sure how you can say the hippie movement didn't exist, but in any case, I guess I'm an optomist. People have long been predicting (and profiting from the predictions) of the fall of civilization, and it hasn't happened. Do you remember when Clinton used the Y2K disaster to sieze dictatorial power? Oh, wait, that conspiracy theory didn't happen either!
    I am the one who a couple of years ago posted an energy plan, which got much discussion, proposing a crash development program for both nuclear fission and fusion power. I am in favor of a radical restructuring of our energy policy. Hmmm - now that I think of it, what sort of people oppose such things....?
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  18. May 30, 2007 #17


    User Avatar

    I'm not too worried about it and agree with russ on everything.

    And this just feels like fearmongering (that already passed it's expiration date). Paraphrasing Andre in a post in Earth:

    Denier denier! How can you deny the truth??

    Catastrophe catastrophe catastrophe! The world will end! THE END IS NEIGH!!
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  19. May 30, 2007 #18
    Politicians that want to be re-elected oppose such things, because voters do not want to inconvinience themselves.
    the do not wish to change their old dependencies because they are being fed lies. Hopefully if the puplic was aware that we are facing terminal decline in oil production. years from now (not decades) they would demand change to keep the gears of civilization rolling. massive research into alternative energy sources that could be developed and relieve oil as suply dwindled.
    Sadly, the general public will not know before the decline is upon them.
    There will be anger, desperation and regret.

    The oil will not last forever, in fact we will never have more oil then we do now. This is something the general public does not know.
    It is something that oil companies know however and that is why there was a massive downsizing in oil prospecting and a desperate tech race to try to make deep hard to get oil out of the ground while still being profitable.
  20. May 30, 2007 #19
    Here is something you should know.
    A King Hubbert the man who in 1956 predicted the american oil peak would happen in 1970 (which it did) also predicted that the world would peak in 2000.

    He did this by calculating the number and sizes of oilfields being discovered over time and the frequency of their discovery and accurately predicted the peak of america 14 years before it happened.
    He did the exact same thing on a world wide scale and came to the conclusion that it would happen at the turn of the century.
    However there was a political incident in 1970 where iran and saudi arabia boicotted oil exports from their countries because they had issues with america (iran) and israel (saudi arabia)
    This quadrupled prices at the gas station, and leading scientists on the subject extrapolated that we gained 5-10 years on the hubbert's peak model due to the decline in oil usage world wide due to the panic.

    That puts the oil peak at 2005-2010.
    It is happening right now and we have front row seats.

    Most if not all goverments in the west know this for a fact.
    Ask yourself 1 important question. Would Bush take all the heat he is getting for staying in Iraq if there was no oil there?
    Iraq has the biggest remaining deposit of good quality oil left in the world.
  21. May 30, 2007 #20


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    Whether peak oil has already occurred or will occur in the next 30yrs is in material, the fact is we need to find a reliable energy source to replace it. If we delay in finding this replacement until the effects of a declining oil supply are felt, it will be to late. It is imperative that we begin weaning ourselves from fossil fuel supplies NOW. Call if fear mongering if you wish, I call it common sense. We must use our ever declining supply of oil wisely as there is no easy path forward without it. Would not it be nice if we could free ourselves of fossil fuel supplies and actually have some oil left in the ground.

    As for fusion, talk about pie in the sky! They have been 10yrs from break even a lot longer then they have been 10 yrs from peak oil. I have come to believe that the only possible fusion reactor will found to be accomplished by suspending a large mass of Hydrogen in space and letting gravity do its thing... we call them stars.

    And yes Russ I deny that the straw man hippy you love to attack has ever existed nor does it exist now. The original hippy was all about screwing and smoking pot. They buried the last hippy in 1973, all since then is media hype. Suckered you in didn't they.

    I sincerely wish that you would quit side tracking this potentially interesting thread with your irrelevant objections to a specific date.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Hubbert's Peak. The oil crash.
  1. Peak Oil (Replies: 2)

  2. Peak oil. (Replies: 69)

  3. The Heathrow crash (Replies: 2)