The Impending Energy Crisis


Hubbert Peak

When Does the Oil Run Out?

What do we do then?







Our Probable Qualitative Future

US Oil Production Over time

The US is rapidly running out of production capacity.

We spent a considerable of class time on the curve above. Hubbert was able to accurately estimate when North American would have its peak production (e.g. the peak in the curve above) for the following reasons:

  1. He assumed that the intrinstic production curve was bell shaped. He arrived at this assumption by examining the production curve of individual oil wells ,which was bell shaped. He assumed that integrated production would show the same functional behavior.

  2. He made an estimate of the total oil reserves available in the US. We will call this R. The total area under the bell curve is R. (As we saw in class with the Excel exponential depletion time scale calculations that even if your wrong by a factor of 2 in this estimate, it doesn't make much difference)

  3. Empirical data from 1946-1955 firmly showed that the growth rate of oil consumption was around 3%.

    Therefore, if you know the total amount of the reserve, R, you can then know what fraction of R was used up during the 1946-1955 period. Only one unique bell curve can simultaneously give you a total area of R and the correct fractional amount of R used up during this 10 year period.

    The Same is true for combined North American Production.

    What about the whole World?




    Capacity in US Oil Reserve:

    Known US Reserves as of 1990: = 36 billion barrels of oil
    Consumption Rate 3 billion barrels of oil per year

    36/3 12 more years left

    By 1995 the Reserve Estimate had dwindled to 22.5 billion
    barrels of oil and the cosumption rate remains the same

    22.5/3 = 7.5 years left so we are still on the trajectory



    Which all means that our reliance on Foreign Oil
    increases with time.

    Oil Imports 1973-1997





    As exponential population increases and the LDC seeks the
    same per capita energy structure as the MCD
    demand should escalate

    Nominal World Population Clock











    The Year of Peak Oil Production Continues to be
    a Lively Scholary Debate

    But Concensus is Emerging

    The Peak will likely occur around 2005 +/- 1 year

    Then decline to 10% of that peak within 50 years.

    (but it could easily be more rapid).


    The Price of Oil

    But it continues to be "cheap"