Last week, at a public meeting, I was asked several times if this famed "peak oil" has arrived or not. People who have heard of peak oil seem to be becoming impatient, but I am afraid we'll have to wait a little longer. Peak oil is not here yet, at least if we intend it as a significant decline in the production of combustible liquids. Does that mean that the predictions based on the Hubbert model were wrong? In a sense, yes: you should know that all models are wrong by definition. Some, however, can be useful if you know how to use them. That's the case of the Hubbert model: it had given us a useful warning that, however, we chose to ignore. Let me explain this point by means of a summary
of a talk that I gave at the conference on the future of energy organized in Basel by the Club of Rome on 16-17 october 2011. A few months have passed since I gave that talk, but things haven't changed much from then.
We don't see a peak for the year 2000, nor we see it for 2005. If the peak had been in 2000 or 2005, we should be already seeing a significant production decline. What we see, instead, is a plateau that has been lasting for the past five years or so, interrupting the growth trend that had been the rule from 1983. So, no peak so far, but clearly "something" has been happening with oil production starting with the first decade of the 21st century, considering also the remarkable increase in oil prices of that period. But what's happening, exactly? Where is the peak? Should we expect it soon, or is it delayed for a long time?
I think that at this point we need to pause for a moment. What is exactly a model and what can it be used for? Models come in a variety of forms: formal, informal, complex, simple, aggregated, multiparameter and more. But, no matter what model you are using, one thing that can be said is that if you think it can predict the future, I am afraid that you are going to be sorely disappointed. Complex mathematical models may not be any better than the crystal ball that is part of the toolbox of any self respecting magician. Models are no magic. Models are just tools. And, just as with any tool, you need to know how to use them, otherwise you risk to hurt yourself.
What should we expect now? Well, we don't need a formal model to understand that the oil industry can keep extracting oil as long as there are customers able to pay for it. The problem is that, with progressive of depletion, extraction costs can only increase as we tackle more and more difficult, dirty, and remote resources. That will be continue to generate high prices. So, we'll have peak oil when we won't be able to pay these prices any longer. Peak oil: has it arrived? | Energy Bulletin http://energybulletin.net/stories/2012-06-18/peak-oil-has-it-arrived
A komentář: It is disappointing to read an article that indicates it is discussing peak oil and shows instead a graph that includes natural gas liquids. Why not show oil plus field condensate?