Three of the six biggest oil fields ever found cannot exist – Peak Oil #13

I make it a high priority to avoid corrosive humor, such as sarcasm or ridicule, in my writing. But when it comes to the foolish Peak Oil concept, laughter seems to be the only appropriate response.

factual background

In a 1949 article, Dr. M. King Hubbert was able to calculate the total amount of oil that exists on the earth.  Don’t take my word for it.  See page 105 of “Energy from Fossil Fuels, Science” [scanned, 260 kb]. Won’t link to any specifics, but the ability he had to calculate the total amount of oil that will ever be known is a skill still present today.

In a previous post, I mentioned a Reuters article by Mr. John Kemp – Is Bakken Set to Rival Ghawar?

In the article, Mr. Kemp says:

Ghawar [in Saudi Arabia] is one of only six super-giant oil fields that have produced more than 1 million barrels per day at their peak. Others are Burgan (Kuwait), Cantarell (Mexico), Daqing (China) and in the 1970s and 1980s Samotlor (Russia) and Kirkuk (Iraq).

As I also mentioned in that post, I did a bit of research and found that Wikipedia provides the discovery date of the above six superstars. Sorted by date they are:

  • Kirkuk (Iraq) 1927
  • Burgan (Kuwait) – 1938
  • Ghawar 1948 on stream 1951
  • Daqing (China) 1959
  • Samotlor (Russia) discovered 1965
  • Cantarell (Mexico) 1976

/ridicule on/

That means that of the six largest oil fields ever known in terms of daily output, three had not been discovered in 1949. They could not have been included in the good doctor’s calculations.  That means we must of necessity put the word alleged in front of their supposed existence.

The alleged output of 1M bopd in each of those fields is obviously something that never happened.

The Ghawar field was discovered in 1948, before his 1949 article. However, it doesn’t appear to have been online until 1951. So it is unclear whether that would have been included in his calculation. Let’s give him the benefit of a small amount of doubt and assume it was included in the finite amount of total oil that he calculated would ever be recovered.

So that means that three of the allegedly six largest oil fields in the world, Daqing, Samotlor, and Cantarell, along with the entire alleged Bakken field cannot possibly exist.

Dr. Hubbert said so.

/ridicule off/

With a straight face, the reason for this particular post is to point out the foolishness of saying that we can know how much oil there is in the ground.


  • Once in a while there is a new field discovered that the geologists did not know was there.
  • New technology comes along to allow extraction of what was previously impossible to recover.
  • Development of a field often leads the geologists to conclude there is more oil present than was known before.

Thus to say that the amount of recoverable oil is fixed & knowable and that total output will soon decline is foolishness. 

It was foolish to say so in 1949 and it is foolish to say so today.

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