I’d be worried about Peak Oil if… (#30)

If exploration of the third shelf of Three Forks had been completed instead of just started,

if exploration of fourth shelf were done instead of *not* started,

if price increases didn’t make economically unrecoverable oil economically recoverable,

if new technology didn’t make technically unrecoverable oil technically recoverable,

if the geologists had explored below the Bakken and Three Forks formations and found nothing,

if the boundaries of known oil fields didn’t expand as the geologists fully developed a field,

if secondary and tertiary methods didn’t increase the amount of oil recovery,

if new technologies for drilling on land were never again invented (think fracking and horizontal drilling),

if new technologies for drilling under the ocean were never gain invented,

if new oil fields were never again discovered instead of being found regularly,

if people didn’t change their behavior with increases in prices,

if profit seeking entrepreneurial inventors weren’t looking for substitutes because of increasing oil prices,


if human ingenuity didn’t exist,


I’d agree we have a Peak Oil problem that needs to be ‘solved.’

Those are my thoughts in response to comments from ‘antred’ and ‘Max Sommers’ in a post here.

In the meantime, check out Maugeri’s report mentioned in the post and other recent news – It is very likely that there is still far more oil in the Bakken region than we know about or can get to currently, there is likely more oil in Eagle Ford than Bakken, there might possible be more oil yet to be pulled from Permian using horizontal drilling & fracking than Eagle Ford or Bakken, and Monterrey could have more recoverable oil than Eagle Ford and Bakken combined.

There is a slight possibility the Bakken area, astounding as it is, could be the smallest of those four fields.

Embedded in antred’s question are at least three of the largest fallacies of Peak Oil doctrine:

  • We will never find any more oil fields
  • We won’t discover new technology that allows getting to oil we couldn’t get to before
  • We don’t change our behavior based on changing prices

Phrased differently, the question gets to the definition of proved reserves. My casual description is that is the amount of oil that is economically recoverable with current technology. As more fields are discovered, current fields are fully explored, new technology develops, and prices change then more oil gets counted in the proved category. The worry arises from Peak Oil theory because of the assumption that none of those factors change. If it was possibly true that those factors would never ever change, I’d be worried.

If the incorrect assumptions underneath Peak Oil theory were actually correct, I’d be very worried.

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