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Ken Deffeyes Dons a Tin Foil Hat

At times, I have had very sharp differences of opinion with Kenneth Deffeyes, author of Hubbert’s Peak and Beyond Oil. Deffeyes, a Professor Emeritus from Princeton University, is one of the more vocal proponents of the “peak is past” camp. In 2005, he (in)famously declared that peak occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 2005, and then later updated that peak date to December 16, 2005. He was also quoted at that time as saying that by 2025, we would be back in the Stone Age.

Needless to say, I have a big problem with these sorts of reckless claims. They invite ridicule, and end up causing a lot of perfectly rational people to be painted with a broad brush. It is claims like this that associate peak oil with “crackpots.” Not to say that I think Professor Deffeyes is a crackpot, but some of his reckless claims help build that impression.

It seems that the good professor has done it again:

Was It Deliberate?

While Professor Deffeyes opens up with a caveat:

Warning: I am not convinced that the following event actually happened, but it is an important possibility to explore.

The fact that he thinks this is “an important possibility to explore” will just invite more ridicule and further erode credibility. The premise of his argument is that the financial crisis was actually engineered, and the cause was peak oil. Some of this is real tinfoil hat stuff. He starts off by maintaining that we are past peak:

Timing: World oil production stopped growing (on schedule) in 2005. The first big news in the financial crisis was the collapse of Bear Stearns in March 2008.

Size: A $100 per barrel increase on 30 billion barrels of oil per year is a $3 trillion annual drain on the world economy.

Of course the “size” premise is just wrong. The drain isn’t on the world economy. The drain is on the economy of oil importers. That $3 trillion drain went right into the economies of the oil exporters. From there, it gets worse:

In a fascinating piece in the October 16, 2008 Denver Post, W. Jackson Davis points out that peak oil probably triggered the present crisis, but he says that economists were blindsided as if “a ‘secret signal’ sent out in 2007 slammed the economy with soaring energy and food costs, and the free-fall of housing prices.” Could it have been an actual signal message?

Was the signal actually sent?
Who would have wanted to do it?
How could it have been engineered?
The motivated parties would have to have been nations; this one is too big for Osama bin Laden. Here is a list of the usual suspects; I have no direct evidence that any of them were actually involved:

Russia, the #2 oil producer in the world, reverting to its Cold War tendencies
Nigeria, involved in violent controversy with the major international oil companies
Venezuela, with the agenda of Hugo Chavez
Any or all of the Arab oil exporters, because of the US automatic support of Israel.

You have to read the whole thing to believe it. And while he closes with the warning that has no direct evidence, he concludes with:

However, as so often happens, I cannot disprove the hypothesis.

Likewise, I cannot disprove the hypothesis that I am surrounded by invisible unicorns. Thus, I think it is “an important possibility to explore.”

For more essays from Deffeyes, see his site Beyond Oil. If you want to see some critical response to Deffeyes, see Kenneth Deffeyes Starts Backpedaling and The Many Wrong Predictions of Ken Deffeyes at Peak Oil Debunked.

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October 26, 2008 - Posted by | conspiracy theories, ken deffeyes, Peak Oil

46 Comments

  1. The Peak Oil crowd seems to be having some sort of mass hysterical breakdown. I fear for the health of many PO’ers, if oil goes to $30 a barrel, which it might.RR: you are not in the lunatic advance guard of the PO movement. But think about some of your own gloomy missives, including one in which you supposed that your cross-country car trip might mark the end of an era.My guess is that next year we will see plenty of cross-country car trips in the USA, unless the recession curtails vacations. Besides that, it looks like 80-miles-per-charge, and then 50 mpg from an ICE-generator are possible for PHEVs of the future. Or, you might use an EV for everyday use, and fire up the gas guzzler only for cross-country trips. Your annual gasoline bills would be very moderate.If we do have a global recession, look for $30 a barrel oil. Meanwhile, PHEVs and biofuels are booming. We might have seen Peak Demand for fossil crudes, although $30 a barrel might postpone that day. Yes, someday we will see spiking oil prices again — but that day could be a generation away. And will have even better technology to handle ti. When it comes to commodities, it is never wise to forecast permanent shortages.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 26, 2008

  2. Robert, Thank you for all of your posts. I’ve learned a lot here. Was hoping you could share your thoughts on some of the production delays we hear about in the deepwater and in the Canadian oil sands or wherever else they are occuring. Has anyone tried to strip out these supply gains from production forecasts in the coming years? Thanks

    Comment by bts | October 26, 2008

  3. “If we do have a global recession, look for $30 a barrel oil.”No doubt the world is plunging into a recession Benny. It was assured the moment banks froze like deer in the headlights. Kuwait’s 2nd largest bank went bankrupt over the weekend. They were shorting the US dollar. I’m sure they felt like geniuses a few months ago. Not so smart today.

    Comment by Maury | October 27, 2008

  4. I noticed long ago that the doomer leadership is composed almost entirely of people who lack practical skills: writers, lawyers, etc. Aside from the financial benefits of peddling fear, they would certainly be the ones with the most to lose if we did actually encounter some social upheaval.

    Comment by Robert McLeod | October 27, 2008

  5. Maybe the doomers weren’t so far off. How much of the current crisis was brought on by peak oil? Spare capacity was next to nil. Everything but the kitchen sink was thrown into refineries,with heavy oil and tar sands grabbing an increasingly larger share of production. Oil prices increased 700% in 7 years. Bubbles appeared everywhere,but oil prices had a lot to do with it. Housing prices went wild,but much of it had to do with the price of construction materials,which also went wild. Grain prices went wild,but input costs make up 40% of grain prices,and oil and gas prices drove input costs through the roof. At the same time,the Fed was determined not to see a return of stagflation,so it kept interest rates extremely low and pumped more and more liquidity into the system. That led to the “easy credit” bubble and the train wreck still in progress. Whatever the Fed did,something had to give. Demand had bumped up against supply constraints. At some point,the system was going to go off the rails. Which is exactly what the peak oilers had been claiming would happen. Now,we’re entering a period of long,painful economic contraction. And it won’t end until we find something besides oil to power our economies.

    Comment by Maury | October 27, 2008

  6. “Maybe the doomers weren’t so far off. How much of the current crisis was brought on by peak oil?”Remember that there was a broad commodity bubble recently. Platinum rose from $800 an ounce 5 years ago to $2200 at the start of this year, before falling to $800 again now.When I left The Oil Drum “peak everything” was one of the slogans.I think the hardest thing for peak oilers to consider is that the oil spike might have been more effect than cause, but that’s really what they have to do.They really have to consider that this cycle has primarily been financial.- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  7. I’m not convinced of that odograph. Oil production has been basically flat for years. Spare capacity was sparse by anyone’s estimate just a few months ago. Indonesia dropped out of OPEC and imports oil now. Mexico will be an importer in 5 years. We’re on the cusp of peak oil. Production will hit that downward slope any time now. The world is going to have hell getting back to the GDP it enjoyed in July. Sure,oil prices will be soft for awhile. But,so will economic output. If the world economy is ever going to surpass its July peak,it’ll have to have alternatives to oil. PHEV’s will help,but they’ll be a lot harder to get with constricted credit. We could’ve turned to electric transportation,and avoided a lot of the pain we’ll see in coming years…but we’ve got this love affair going on with internal combustion. And love hurts…

    Comment by Maury | October 27, 2008

  8. I don’t doubt that there will be a peak someday, and I’m not sure that I back far away from my old judgment that we are “fuzzily at something fuzzily like peak oil.”That said, some of the world’s best observers are fickle. They don’t stick to an idea through thick and thin. They pick up ideas that work, and abandon them when they fail.Of course oil is a finite resource, of course there are also production and political constraints.The real tea leave reading has been about what was and will be the principle driver.I’d say a short term peak, especially in the hard and sharp form, is right out the window.The fickle will hop on board with that, and probably be better off.- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  9. To put it another way, how useful is “peak oil” as a survival issue to you and your family?At this point, it looks like the answer is “not very.”My old call, from TOD that “you’d be better off looking to your own diet and exercise, and teaching your family good patterns of diet and exercise, than worrying about peak oil” held true.(I wasn’t the only one who was right. I do wish I’d bought TIPS when Don Sailorman recommended them (’06?), that would have been good timing … but they seem to be coming back down now.)- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  10. “To put it another way, how useful is “peak oil” as a survival issue to you and your family?”At this point,about all someone can do is convert to CNG Odograph. Unless he can afford a Tesla. With new supplies due to the shale drilling,we’ll have plenty of natural gas for awhile. Gas prices will be low for awhile,but they’ll climb so high eventually that economic recovery will be impossible…..unless we have alternatives. Folks running on CNG will feel a lot less pain than someone using gasoline a year or two down the road. Provided he can find a place to refuel.

    Comment by Maury | October 27, 2008

  11. Pfft. Gasoline prices are falling, and we know how to build 200 mpg cars. Get over it.(The VW 200 mpg projects get revived every time oil prices spike)- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  12. Robert said You have to read the whole thing to believe it. I’m assuming you meant believe that Ken Deffeyes wrote it, not to believe the premise of his argument – which is total nonsense. I can’t speak for Russia or the middle east oil producers since I haven’t done a whole lot of work there, but I have spent a lot of time in Nigeria and Venezuela. I had to make quarterly presentations to the Managing Director of NNPC, and I’ve met with both the president of PDVSA and the Oil Minister on several occasions. These guys couldn’t coordinate ordering lunch, let alone carry out some kind of worldwide conspiracy. Venezuela can’t even keep the lights on. Chavez has diverted PDVSA from its traditional focus on oil and gas to social engineering. Venezuela launches new state food company They aren’t very good at that either. So Deffeyes would have us to believe that a country which does a lousy job at producing oil and gas (volumes are down some 30% in 8 years, a significant % of their drilling rigs are out of service), can’t provide reliable electric service, can’t keep basic foodstuffs on supermarket shelves, yet can engineer a conspiracy to take down the US??? Tinfoil hat indeed!

    Comment by KingofKaty | October 27, 2008

  13. Speaking of Venezuela and oil prices, this is very funny: The Bolivarian revolution cuts back .

    Comment by KingofKaty | October 27, 2008

  14. “and we know how to build 200 mpg cars. Get over it.”Get back to me when we know how to put them in showrooms. The first PHEV was made in 1902. That should hit car lots any year now.

    Comment by Maury | October 27, 2008

  15. I’m not talking PHEVs or electrics at all Maury.You should know the history of the VW. It’s a small tandem diesel. It’s slow, and not as much fun as a 300 HP sport coupe, but it will get you to work.It’s better than walking, if we ever faced that choice.But the key thing here, which you don’t seem to be able to grok, is that with a fall to $60/bbl it doesn’t look like we’ll be facing many hard choices about the commute to work. Now it’s all about the economy and how many of us have work.Again, peak oil fear is misplaced.- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  16. Actually, 235 mpg, without electrics

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  17. Maury-We may see Peak Oil, but right now the problem is with demand. Crude oil demand could contract, by 10 percent or more.That would mean an out-and-out runaway honking glut on world oil markets. Imagine 8.7 mbd of production sloshing around every day with no home. Plus another 1-2 mbd of fresh net production. One of out every eight produced barrels globally will have nowhere to go. In just one year, we could see excess supply of 3 billion barrels or more.Where does one store 3 billion barrels?Does $10 a barrel oil ring a bell?I truly hope we in the United States take this opportunity to raise taxes on gasoline, a move that would buy us extra years, maybe even decades, until the next Peak Oil scare-shortage. But we won’t.Even without clever U.S. energy policies, it might be decades until the next Peak Oil scare. PHEVs and biofuels are evolving. But how about this repeat scenario? Oil prices collapse, and cut the knees out from all alternative technologies. It happened before. Then we get another Peak Oil scare somewhere down the line.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 27, 2008

  18. Wonder if this environment will make it easier or harder to combat ethanol subsidies?Probably harder.- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  19. Odograph:70 years after the Dust Bowl, and we still have a very active Department of Agriculture. Funny, no one in the R-Party ever says, “Let’s shrink the federal government. Let’s eliminate the Department of Agriculture, and let those states that wish to continue subsidize and regulate agriculture do so.” Our great-grandchildren will be buying ethanol. Whether it makes sense or not.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 27, 2008

  20. Actually, I don’t give W praise in general, but his proposed means-test for ag subsidies was one of the best ideas of the decade.To bad he lost, on that one.- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  21. Benny – this “R” advocates eliminating the DOA, also the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Labor, etc. If I were “KingofAmerica” I would phase out ALL agricultural subsidies, including ethanol.

    Comment by KingofKaty | October 27, 2008

  22. Housing prices went wild,but much of it had to do with the price of construction materials,which also went wild.Earth calling Maury! (yet again)Housing prices was ALL about cheap financing creating artificial demand. Actual construction cost had NO relation to construction cost. You can check the timing: housing bubble preceeded the commodity bubble.If the world economy is ever going to surpass its July peak,it’ll have to have alternatives to oil.Or just learn to use oil more efficiently…All hail, the KING of America!

    Comment by Optimist | October 27, 2008

  23. Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to get to know L. F. 'Buz' Ivanhoe (now deceased) — one of the people who picked up the flag from M. King Hubbert. You may have seen some of Ivanhoe's old careful articles on declining reserves added per foot of exploratory well drilled.Ivanhoe certainly convinced me that we human beings were using conventional oil & gas faster than we were finding it. He predicted The End Of The World As We Know It decades ago. Yet we now know that, despite his brilliance, he was wrong — certainly about the timing.With the wisdom of hindsight, we can now see the factors that Ivanhoe did not take into account — demand, of course (Benny has a point); also technological improvements which have expanded supply beyond 'conventional' by permitting offshore development in much deeper water, extraction of gas from very tight reservoirs, extraction of oil from tar sands, etc; political changes, which expanded supply by allowing more effective development of previously-identified resources, e.g the Pre-Caspian Basin in the -stans.Bottom line — Hubbert, Ivanhoe, Deffeyes and many others were right about the finite nature of conventional oil & gas. But that is very far from being the whole story about energy supply & demand. The hypothesis of 'Peak Oil' is accurate but incomplete.Deffeyes latest utterings may be an example of the real problem we face in the 21st Century — the politicization of everything. The poster child for this is Alleged Anthropogenic Global Warming, but that is unfortunately not the only example.Finite hydrocarbon resources are a challenge which history suggests 21st Century human beings should be able to overcome through improved technology. But only if we rip off the distorting lenses of 19th Century politics.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | October 27, 2008

  24. King-I have long suggested a trade — The Dems kill Dep’t of Ag, and the Repubs kill HUD. The maybe we can kill off Dep’t of Commerce in exchange for Dep’t of Labor.But why are you in the R Party?Bush has nationalized trillions of dollars of financial institutions, and before that he nationalized drugs for the elderly. He also engaged us a huge, fabulously expensive federalized Islamic nation-building efforts in distant corners of the globe. I read today we spent $100 million for the residents of Fallujah to have a sewer system (they were the nice guys who strung up US contractors from the bridge). Except the sewer system doesn’t work, and probably never will. Bush submitted federal budgets with cumulative trillions of red ink.Listen: A gay socialist, who balanced our federal budget, got us out of expensive foreign wars, taxed gasoline consumption, and began to reduce on our massive trade deficit would do far, far less harm to our nation than Bush and his party.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 27, 2008

  25. “Listen: A gay socialist, who balanced our federal budget, got us out of expensive foreign wars, taxed gasoline consumption, and began to reduce on our massive trade deficit would do far, far less harm to our nation than Bush and his party.”As long as he doesn’t smoke cigarettes man, talk about taboo!- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 27, 2008

  26. As it stands now, I would vote for a gay socialist who smokes crack before I vote Republican again. The R-Party has no energy plan, has nationalized huge segments of our economy, wants to control what kinds of drugs American use recreationally, who we marry, whether we can choose to have abortions, and wants us to rebuild Islamic nations at huge cost on the US taxpayer dime. They continue to subsidize agri-industry and ethanol, and even tobacco. If the modern-day R-Party stands for anything, I would like to know what it is. Subsidized hockey rinks? That’s a necessary public expenditure of funds?And don’t say drilling — R-Party says no drilling off of Florida. McCain says no drilling in ANWR, and by the way, his “No Pay, That’s Okay” plan would give $300 billion to people who welsh on their home mortgages.I am a chump royale. I don’t farm, I pay my mortgage by renting out space, and I don’t run a financial institution. And I used to vote Republican.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 27, 2008

  27. Listen: A gay socialist, who balanced our federal budget, got us out of expensive foreign wars, taxed gasoline consumption, and began to reduce on our massive trade deficit would do far, far less harm to our nation than Bush and his party.Obama is gay?;)

    Comment by bc | October 27, 2008

  28. Unless he can afford a Tesla.Cute!Tesla has delivered what? 15 of these cars? Not that many? So even at $105,000 a pop, affordability is not the main problem.For the tech of the future that sure is a slow take-off…

    Comment by optimist | October 27, 2008

  29. Benny,I think we see demand bumping up against supply constraints again within 3 years. That’s assuming world demand drops 10% and doesn’t grow. Yeah,there are alternatives. But,we won’t use them until we’re forced to. Keep in mind that oil is still 3X higher than it was in ’01 and 50% higher than it was in ’05. And that’s with the worst financial crisis since 1929 unfolding.

    Comment by Maury | October 28, 2008

  30. Maury-Well, making predictions is hard, especially about the future. Worst financial debacle since 1929? Maybe. If it is, we won’t see oil demand revive for 10 years or more. Oil supply? Even doomsters were predicting production increases for next three years or so. We could see $10 a barrel oil in two years. The average marginal cost of production. Cheap oil and real estate might set the stage for investment and growth. Let’s hope so.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 28, 2008

  31. benny,The biggest oil consumption decline in recent history started in 1980 in response to high prices at the time. By 1983, demand had fallen by a cumulative 10% as those high prices triggered a recession. But demand started growing again in 1984 after prices started to fall, and 2 years after the 1986 price collapse demand was back up to 1979 levels (i.e. 10% growth in 4 years).After that, until now, demand has grown steadily every year since 1988, even through the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990’s and the dotcom bust of the early 2000’s.Even though this crisis looks to be a lot more extreme in terms of oil demand, I don’t think it should be taken for granted we’ll have 10 years of declining production. When the fever is high, everyone’s talking $200 oil. In the depths of gloom, there is no low in sight and people are jumping off cliffs. I think within a few years we’ll see the business cycle turn up again, and we’ll eventually be facing the same supply/demand issues we faced (imagined?) this summer. The difference this time around is the economic expansion of China, Russia, Brazil, and India, and the expectations of their people. This wasn’t much of a factor in the 80’s, and only starting to ramp up 10 years ago. I think we’ll be seeing more volatility and higher prices in the future, but probably not for a few years. Those 3+ billion people are still going to want a better life and they have a lot of room to grow to get to western style levels of consumption. Not necessarily a good thing… but I think that’s where they’re going to want to go. We could easily see demand perk up again before too long, in response to lower prices, as it did in the mid-1980’s. It just may not grow as fast as it has been, and prices may remain relatively weak for a few years. But I think when there is a recovery, demand will start to grow strongly again as it did in the mid-1980’s (when the BRIC’s were a gleam in the eye).Geez, I drove 2 1/2 miles yesterday to pick up my son at a friend’s house in a nice neighborhood in LA. I counted 22 for sale signs. I think it’s going to take a few years to purge and recharge the system.

    Comment by armchair261 | October 28, 2008

  32. Benny – I used to be a “D” and then switched. I’m not happy with the “R” party either, but I don’t think throwing the keys to a socialist and single party rule is a wise thing. The last time we had that was in the 1970s. It didn’t work out too well. Back to energy, prices now have come back down to the marginal costs of production. Venezuela heavy oil and Alberta tar sands cost about $60-80/barrel to produce at a 15% ROI. I don’t think OPEC cutting back will raise prices much. The paper traders are pretty much out of the market. They have either cashed in their positions, or they are no longer creditworthy counterparties. Just the knowledge that an extra million or two barrels per day could come back into the market should keep a lid on prices. Looks like we are back to fundamental supply and demand at around $60.

    Comment by KingofKaty | October 28, 2008

  33. Armchair-I sometimes think everybody posting here is from Los Angeles or Texas. I live in Elysian Valley, near Dodger Stadium.What I notice is how many stores are going out of business. And home for-sale signs.I figure another 10 percent to 20 percent decline in home prices, and the buying starts in earnest. On global oil consumption, I look at BP numbers, on their website. They report oil consumption in 1979 was about the same as in 1990. (There does seem to a discrepancy between their charts on tonnes of consumption and the one for mbd of consumption.) In history, are never exactly the same. Yeah, we now have Russia, Chindia, and oil thug states. Sovereign powers control oil production, and they are thugs (Canada excepted).On the other hand, this global recession could be deeper than the early 1980s. Biofuel output is far higher than before. By the time oil consumption starts back up, PHEVs may be making inroads. Now Cuba says it has 20 billion barrels undersea. King: We are pushing $57 on the Brent spot. The price decline has just started. Maybe Canadian oil will get shut in. We might have 9 mbd of unwanted oil on world markets by next year. We can live without Canadian oil for a few years. You can vote for the R-Party if you want. I just wish I could vote for a crackhead, gay socialist who would balance the budget, tax gasoline, rein in the trade deficit, and get us out of Iraq pronto. Obama might be as close as I can get.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 28, 2008

  34. “I figure another 10 percent to 20 percent decline in home prices, and the buying starts in earnest.” Depends on how many people with prime credit want homes Benny. My daughter is trying to buy a home. Excellent credit,and got pre-approved with a good rate. But,the bank has put off the closing twice now. Her realtor says that’s been happening a lot lately. First,banks have to be willing to loan each other money overnight. Next,businesses with prime credit should be able to access those credit lines again. Then,maybe banks can get up the courage to make consumer loans. Hopefully,all that can be done while the economy still has a pulse. You’re too focused on one side of the supply/demand issue Benny. Once we’re past peak,annual production declines of 4% will be the norm. People won’t buy $40,000 Chevy Volts until we see $5 gas. Even then,they better have a good job and prime credit. I’m not getting stuck next time. If automakers won’t produce an alternative,I’ll convert to CNG. In the meantime,I’ll buy all the oil and gold stocks I can afford….as soon as they stop crashing.

    Comment by Maury | October 28, 2008

  35. “I used to be a “D” and then switched. I’m not happy with the “R” party either, but I don’t think throwing the keys to a socialist and single party rule is a wise thing. The last time we had that was in the 1970s. It didn’t work out too well.”I wonder how much of this problem was seen a year ago, but rather than treated, stalled …. with the hope that it would blow up on the next President’s watch, making it a “Democrat” problem, or at least not GWB’s.Regardless, I don’t think many in the middle will accept that Obama made this …. heck, the news shows are running “how to survive” financial specials.- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 28, 2008

  36. Example:Main Street is speaking up.. and speaking up loudly. You want answers, and you deserve them.They actually had Ted Nugent on the importance of owning guns.- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 28, 2008

  37. Maury-I wonder gold. I remember people buying gold at $900 an ounce — in 1986. Once this crisis passes, will all that glitters be gold?Oil is an interesting play, with COP at four times earnings. Sheesh.There is a Thai oil palm stock, UVAN, offering a 12 percent yield, and trading at 5 times earnings.If we do not have a global recession, these are (probably?)great buys. If we have a global recession, all bets are off.Obviously, shorting oil makes sense at $147. Still yet?On houses, let me know when your daughter buys. I have an office mate whose friend just bought a house with an FHA loan. You are right, we have to get this credit logjam fixed. But, sales are accelerating in CA, so the bansk must be giving money to somebody.And don’t fall into the TOD’ers trap: They simultaneously predict astronomical oil prices and global economic collapse. I hate to break to to ’em, but it really doesn;t work out that way. Even a global recession will tank oil prices for several years, maybe a decade.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 28, 2008

  38. Was hoping you could share your thoughts on some of the production delays we hear about in the deepwater and in the Canadian oil sands or wherever else they are occuring.Sorry for the late responses. Been pretty tied up.I don’t know about specific projects (although I have been lately seeing some headlines mentioning this), but plunging prices definitely put some of the higher priced oil – deepwater and oil sands as you mention – into the marginally economical camp. I think a new Democratic administration will put taxes into place that will cut deeper into the economics of these projects, and I think you will see a subsequent slowdown in development in both areas. RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | October 28, 2008

  39. “I don’t know about specific projects (although I have been lately seeing some headlines mentioning this), but plunging prices definitely put some of the higher priced oil – deepwater and oil sands as you mention – into the marginally economical camp. I think a new Democratic administration will put taxes into place that will cut deeper into the economics of these projects, and I think you will see a subsequent slowdown in development in both areas. “Not that slowing down is necessarily bad … but what fraction of the projects are on US territories?- odograph

    Comment by Anonymous | October 28, 2008

  40. I have lost money investing many times, and I have had my “tin-foil hat” days…but, still worth a chuckle are the trevails of T. Boone Pickens. He just lost $2 billion, according to the WSJ, in the larger of his two investment funds. About half of the funds investors have taken their money out of the fund. Investors are running from commodity funds, like rats leaving sinking ships.In a newer fund, which started the year with $600 million, Pickens is down 84 percent. Down 84 percent in less than a year!My, how the screw turns. And Pickens wants us to listen to him, on some convoluted wind power and natural gas scheme to save our country from doom.We could listen to Pickens, we could listen to winos in the park. I am not sure who to listen to anymore.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | October 28, 2008

  41. “Once this crisis passes, will all that glitters be gold?”Governments and Central Banks are flooding the system with as much liquidity as they can beg,borrow,or steal. Trillions of inflationary dollars,euros,yen,and too many already worthless currencies to mention. Bush was jaw boning banks today to stop hoarding money the Fed gave them. These guys don’t even won’t to loan each other money overnight. But,once those vaults are cracked open,the world will see an inflationary spiral that makes ’07 and ’08 look tame.

    Comment by Maury | October 28, 2008

  42. Robert,I`ve read you here and on TOD and highly respect your efforts to always present an unbiassed, as objective as possible, view. I am now working on a report about PO for my government and really do not want to get down to tin foil hat arguments and data.I think, as you do, that it is important to get the facts right or the real warnings lose credibility. In that light, I would greatly appreciate if you could point me towards a balanced analysis of the PO question, including some of the counterviews.Thanks in advance for your time,

    Comment by onedip | October 28, 2008

  43. Latest preview of the upcoming IEA report. Not pretty with steep declines and a lack of investment in key areas (mentioned above by RR). Some caveats though, as it does mention that huge investment will be required to keep declines at about 6% per year and that the demand in 2030 will be 106 mbd (or lower given the recession) as opposed to the 116 mbd they are calling forhttp://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e5e78778-a53f-11dd-b4f5-000077b07658.htmlRobert, can you explain how demand can be even 106 mbd when we are stuck at 87 mbd. Where would that extra 19 mbd come from when there are to be declines of 6% a year? Will third gen. biofuels eventually scale up enough to provide some of this? Algae seems promising but the companies never release data on their processes AND the scale up doesn’t seem to happen. Of course with crude below $70, can it scale up at all, regardless of how many steps are cut from the process.On that note, with more gas available through shale plays, and some advances in GTL in the media, can GTL step in and provide the liquids to get us through the next few decades? Thanks for your attention Robert.

    Comment by Stuck in Shizuoka | October 29, 2008

  44. Will third gen. biofuels eventually scale up enough to provide some of this?No. I don’t think those consumption numbers are realistic. I once heard COP CEO Jim Mulva comment on those projections of consumption of over 100 million bpd as being unachievable. You can see his comments here. can GTL step in and provide the liquids to get us through the next few decades?GTL is economical only under very specific circumstances. It can help fill the gap (as can CTL) but probably not until oil is consistently well over $100/bbl.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | October 29, 2008

  45. I would greatly appreciate if you could point me towards a balanced analysis of the PO question, including some of the counterviews.Perhaps the best source for counterviews – even though I disagree with him on specifics – is the Peak Oil Debunked site linked to in my blogroll to the right. Also, the peak oil article that I wrote – also linked to in the blogroll – is very balanced. It is a bit dated now (I should probably check to see if anything major has changed) but I presented it objectively.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | October 29, 2008

  46. still worth a chuckle are the trevails of T. Boone Pickens. He just lost $2 billion, according to the WSJ, in the larger of his two investment funds.Markets provide labels like “genius” and “dunce” to people who deserve neither. I have seen people who don’t understand crap about oil, but who nevertheless are completely sold on the idea that peak oil is upon us. So, they buy oil futures, oil shoots up over $100, and suddenly they are geniuses and people want their advice. Seen it happen lots of times. Of course they aren’t doing so well right now.I certainly don’t mean to imply that Pickens doesn’t know the oil business. But there are those who merely guessed right or were lucky, and as a result they are viewed as wise.RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | October 29, 2008


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