Have we passed the peak of "peak oil" nonsense?
Once again, H/T Don Boudreaux for bringing the Exxon report to my attention.
Just a week ago, the Wall Street Journal strangely allowed a "peak oil theory" piece on its opinion pages even though "peak oil" is every bit the hoax that man-made global warming it.
"Peak oil", like human starvation and other scare tactics based on a myth of dwindling resources are at least as much part of an attack on free markets, capitalism, and modern economies as they are environmental radicalism. But to be sure, it's both. Typically, the piece in the WSJ calls for more use of alternative fuels. And while it's nice to see someone support nuclear energy, the idea that any combination of nuclear, wind, solar, and wave energy will replace a significant part of our oil use anytime soon is laughable. Just how are you gonna fit that fission reactor or windmill in your gas tank?
To be fair to the scientist who first developed "peak oil" theory, Marion Hubbert, he used his analysis to predict a peak in domestic United States production which did occur. However, since then people have erroneously extrapolated this theory to say that the world is running out of oil.
As far as I can tell, there has only been one year in recent history (2008) when BP's Statistical Review of World Energy showed lower worldwide reserves than the prior year, and that was a statistically insignificant decline caused by a large upward revision to the prior year's reserves.
BP's analysis for 2009 hasn't been released yet, but if the recent spate of results from energy companies is a good indicator, we are on track for seeing the highest level in history of proven energy reserves worldwide.
Here are some samples from the last few weeks. It should be noted that the reserve increases came on top of increased production from these companies (in case you might have thought 2009 was a down-year in production which would have made increasing reserves easier.)
- "(A)dditions to its proved reserves in 2009 totaled 2.0 billion oil-equivalent barrels, replacing 133 percent of production."
- "We have replaced more than 100 percent of production for 16 consecutive years"
- "The corporation’s reserves additions in 2009 (were) the highest in the decade"
- "BP’s reserve replacement ratio for the year was 129 per cent – making 2009 the seventeenth consecutive year of reserve replacement of at least 100 per cent."
- "In 2009, the company had proved reserve additions from all sources of 483 million BOE, compared to production of 235 million BOE, for a production replacement ratio of 206 percent."
- "We are pleased to have replaced 206 percent of our 2009 production largely through improved recovery and extensions and discoveries. Over the last three years, we replaced 160 percent of our production."
- "Questar E&P reported estimated proved gas and oil reserves of 2.75 Tcfe at December 31, 2009, up 24% from 2.22 Tcfe at year-end 2008."
I admit there is a theoretical limit to the oil that humans can find and recover, but I suggest the limit is much higher than the average person believes and that we will be well on our way to replacing some measurable percentage of our oil use with other fuels far before we reach that limit. When the world's proven reserves rise essentially every year since the discovery of oil, it's hard to take seriously claims that we're just about to run out.
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