Is peak oil a myth?

Last month, Oil&Gas Middle East said that the oil industry will not hit peak oil in the next decade. The editorial drew an unprecedented response from readers, some of whose views are published on this page.

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By  Nicholas Wilson Published  July 4, 2006

Letters|~||~||~|Not if but when

Dear Editor,
You need to do more research. There is no question that peak oil will occur. The only real debate is when. People like yourself that have not done the research, and the politicians that only care about being elected are the cause of what is going to happen.Sincerely,
Tom Coburn
Home Energy Savers Inc, USA

Forces of energy insecurity

Dear Editor,
By way of introduction, I am a financial analyst covering the energy industry and read your recent article on peak oil. Several of its viewpoints have become part of my quarterly review of the energy investment world: “The G Forces of Energy Insecurity: Growth, Geology, Geopolitics, Guerrillas, Global Warming and Green Energy.” A copy is available at my blog:
I would truly welcome any feedback you might have.
Chris Ruppel

Missing production figures

Dear Editor,
Your article is very funny. It completely misses production figures. Why haven’t you referred to the peak in US petroleum production in 1970 in your historic summary, or was it fiction? Why haven’t you referred to the projections that came true?

So, Canada has more oil than Saudi Arabia. What are the current production figures for tar sand production? And 15 years from now? What’s the EPR of tar sands? Do you know any method of extracting shale oil with an EPR bigger than one? Why haven’t you showed the outcome of “Technology” in Texas?
Luís de Sousa

Reserves are not the issue

Dear Editor,
There is a big difference my friend, between the world of the 18th and 19th centuries. Our knowledge of this planet’s geography and geology is by far greater today.

The issue you are right about is that peak oil is not about reserves. It never has been, but about extraction, transport and production. Here the problem is that the flow can only go as fast as the slowest choke point will let it.

Alas, today the reserves are inaccessible, the transport system is maxed and the production systems are wearing out and located in areas vulnerable to mother nature.

You are right that we shall see in ten years if oil starts to run out. Everyone agrees we will run out, that it is a finite resource. So, why get so worked up about whether it happens in ten years or 20? Although you seem to be arguing that oil will never end.

This is the longest oil price spike in history and there is a reason for that— it is not a spike. It is based on fundamentals that indicate a growing competition for a finite resource, which is why there is fierce competition between China, India and the United States for it. There is no lack of information about the peak of oil—it’s a fact, not a myth.
Production has not risen above the winter of 2004/2005. World oil production will not rise above 86 million barrels a day. There is not enough extraction, transport nor production capability. Isn’t it curious that Saudi oil production has gone from 11 million barrels last year to 9.8 million this winter to 9.1 million in April.
You are right—we will see.
Scot Torkelson

Production, not reserves, matter

Dear Editor,
I enjoyed reading your article on peak oil, portraying it as a hoax perpetrated by environmentalists and hippies. It’s certainly true that there are decades worth of oil left in the world, and hundreds of years worth of coal. So what’s with all of this ‘peak oil’ propaganda?

The first thing to note is that peak oil theory does not say that oil is running out, nor that it will disappear anytime within the next 50 years.

What it does say is that we are now reaching the point where no matter how much we want to pump oil out of the ground, we simply cannot pump it any faster—regardless of our marvelous advances in seismic technologies, 3D digital visualisation and analytical tools, and improved drilling techniques...nothing can increase the production of a given oil field beyond a certain point.

This is a basic geological fact—oil companies have found that they run into production limits in every producing oil field on earth. For example, the United States reached its maximum oil production in 1971, and despite all of the technological advances over the past 35 years, has been unable to pump faster than the levels seen in 1971. Production is down to less than half the 1971 level.

The implications of the peaking of oil production are so far-reaching, I won’t go into it here. Think about it. peak oil is not some crazy theory, it’s probably the central issue confronting our generation.

I think you will find that the arguments are tough to refute. I myself wish I could refute them, I’d sure sleep better.
Kevin Druhan

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