Looking Back At The Peak

We Passed “Peak Oil” In December, 2005.

Dr. M. King Hubbert postulated that the rate of new oil discoveries depends on the fraction of oil that has not yet been discovered. In the same way, the rate of oil production depends on the fraction of oil that has not yet been extracted.

This is self-evident after reflection. Consider that no matter what we measure: the frequencies of words in texts, the size of human settlements, the file size distribution of Internet traffic or the size of sand particles, meteorites or craters, the distribution pattern is the same – commonly expressed as the 80-20 rule.

Formally this power law is called a Pareto Distribution, but it is also known as the law of the vital few or the principle of factor sparsity. We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that oil field sizes follow the same rule.

The February 2006 edition of the ASPO newsletter contains a history of Exxon Mobil’s discoveries and calculates total world reserves at 2.013 trillion barrels. If those estimates are accurate, and there was no reason to think they are not, world peak would happen when 1.0065 trillion barrels have been produced.

As pointed out by Professor Kenneth S. Deffeyes, the cumulative world production at the end of 2004 was 0.9812 trillion barrels and in 2005 it reached 1.00748 trillion. Therefore, we passed the halfway mark around about the middle of December. Surprise, surprise, compared to 2004, world oil production was up 0.8 percent in 2005 but this was nowhere near enough to compensate for the rise in demand of roughly three percent.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson, has founded a non-political committee with the intent of making Sweden fossil fuel-independent by 2020 and acknowledged that peak oil was a fact. It’s time we all not only acknowledged our addiction, but outlined our national 12 step program, AA style.

“Oh Lord, give me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the one from the other.”

Deal with it, or it will deal with you.

[tags]fossil fuel,peak oil,m. king hubbert,80-20 rule,goran persson,pareto distribution,law of the vital few,principle of factor sparsity[/tags]

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