Inconvenient production data – Peak Oil #21

Vaclav Smil has an article at The American, “Memories of Peak Oil” that looks at oil production data over the course of a decade.

He pulls data from BP’s annual energy report. Great stuff there.

These are some highlights he points out for production between 2001 and 2011:

  • +10.8% – global production
  • +20% – Saudi Arabia
  • +47% – Russia, although that reflects recovered from political problems the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • +17% – to the Mideast production
  • +37% – Canada
  • +130% – Angola

He breaks up the US production into little more detail:

between 2001 and 2008 it dropped by nearly 13 percent

Between 2008 and 2011, US production increased by 16% (I calc that from production up 50Mt from 304.9Mt = +16.4%).

Does this invalidate the ‘Peak Oil’ concept? Yes. The article continues:

That may be too much to expect but, in any case, U.S. oil output disproves any preordained and immutable validity of Hubbert’s curves (which attempt to infallibly predict U.S. and world oil output for decades to come! …).

That  link takes you to a pro-Hubbert web site that briefly explains why it is possible to calculate the rapid drop in production and when we will hit zero.

Mr. Smil makes a guess at future production trends:

Obviously, there will come a time when global oil extraction will reach its peak, but even that point may be of little practical interest as it could be followed by a prolonged, gentle decline or by an extended output plateau at a somewhat lower level than peak production. At the beginning of 2013, there are no signs that the beginning of this new oil era (regardless of its specific course) is imminent, and forecasting its onset remains an exercise in futility.

He addresses the folly of Peak Oil in his conclusion:

Only one thing is abundantly clear to me: for the past 15 years I have been quite confident that there is no imminent danger of any sharp peak of global oil extraction followed by an inexorable production slide — and early in 2013 that confidence is greatly strengthened by new facts. Is it too much to hope that even some catastrophists and peak-oil cultists will find it impossible to ignore those numbers?

Yes, Mr. Smil, that is probably too much to hope.

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