Poor peak oil. Interest in this theory peaked around two years ago; since then, peak oil has been relegated to a kind of alarmist understudy role, available if ever global warming got a toothache or twisted an ankle. Now even the New York Times is talking peak oil down:
Within the last decade, technology advances have made it possible to unlock more oil from old fields, and, at the same time, higher oil prices have made it economical for companies to go after reserves that are harder to reach. With plenty of oil still left in familiar locations, forecasts that the world’s reserves are drying out have given way to predictions that more oil can be found than ever before …
“It’s the fifth time to my count that we’ve gone through a period when it seemed the end of oil was near and people were talking about the exhaustion of resources,” said Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of oil, who cited similar concerns in the 1880s, after both world wars and in the 1970s. “Back then we were going to fly off the oil mountain. Instead we had a boom and oil went to $10 instead of $100.”
Incredibly, abundance denialists simply won’t accept the oil consensus:
There is still a minority view, held largely by a small band of retired petroleum geologists and some members of Congress, that oil production has peaked, but the theory has been fading.
UPDATE. DISSENT! Jim Rooney emails:
Dear Mr. Blair,
I read your blog with some frequency and enjoy it. As an independent oil and gas producer in the Rocky Mountains (and an ABD in economics from Columbia) I have to say that I’m nonplussed by your entry “Peak Passed”.
The question of peak oil (Hubbert’s peak) relates to production rates rather than absolute supply. It’s not saying that we’re running out anytime soon or that there isn’t a lot of it around. In fact it occurs by definition when 50% of the ultimate reserves remain. The issue isn’t some sort of short-term “exhaustion of resources”, to quote Daniel Yergin, a man who was projecting $100 per barrel back in the early 80’s right up until prices fell off a cliff.
Even the New York Times is talking peak oil down?! The tenor of your comment and that of the comments section was that Peak Oil is some sort of lefty fetish similar to global warming. My fellow right wingers and enemies of the planet in the oil business tend to think the Peak is not that far off. Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but I could offer many reasons why I think it’s true. For instance, the NYT isn’t worried about it ... Seriously, if you’re interested I could go on and on.
The market will create a solution to the problem of rapidly rising demand and relatively stagnant increases (or declines) in the rate of production. But dismissing the potential problem as hype makes it more likely that the solution will resemble a train wreck, economically and politically.
The High Prophet of Hubbert’s Peak is probably Matt Simmons. He recently gave a speech on the topic in London; the text is on his web site.
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