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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wolf is at the door
Deffeyes hits the nail on the head when he clearly details what petroleum industry insiders already know - it's not "if" global oil production will peak, it's "when." After years of warning about the imminent demise of cheap oil supplies, experts are now splitting hairs about whether or not inexpensive oil production will peak in this decade or the next. The author's...
Published on November 2, 2001 by Dohn Riley

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much explanation of oil depletion
I was rather disappointed with this book. I have been reading a lot about oil depletion lately, and so I was excited when this book came out.
The good things about the book:
1- it IS easy reading.
2- it gives a pretty good explanation of where oil comes from, and why it is only found in certain geoloical formations. I found this part (more than 1/2 the...
Published on October 31, 2001 by

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19 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hubbert and Deffeyes sheer speculation. Read why., July 26, 2003
This book is speculative based on a flawed forecasting. King Hubbert made a famous prediction in 1956 that U.S. oil production would peak between 1965 and 1970. His forecasting methodology was to estimate the total U.S. oil supply that was and will ever be available for production. This quantity is known as the Ultimate. This Ultimate is equal to Cumulative Historical Production + Reserves + Undiscovered Potential. Mr. Hubbert?s next step was to fit the Ultimate as the surface under a normally distributed Bell Curve with the X-axis representing time (years date: 1956, 1957, 1958) and the Y-axis representing an estimate of annual production in any given year. The Peak is equal to the midpoint on this curve and represents the year at the half life of U.S. oil supply. It also represents the "peak" highest annual production. Every year after that would experience ever declining production following the declining right side of a normal distribution Bell curve. Kenneth Deffeyes extends the same methodology to the whole World oil supply, and infers that the peak will be reached between 2004 and 2008, and thereafter, oil production will decline very rapidly.

What is wrong with that methodology? A lot, as will see. I tested King Hubbert prediction by plotting U.S. crude oil annual production from 1949 to 2001. I found out that the data is far more dispersed than a normal distribution is. Thus, King Hubbert use of a normal distribution is incorrect, and will lead to erroneous forecasts. Giving Mr. Hubbert a break, I figured what he really meant was symmetry from the peak. Thus, if you know the production in the peak year, you can forecast the production in the out years after that. Well, using this technique, I figured the production level 10 years after the peak (in 1980) should be the equal to the one 10 years before the peak (1960), and so on and so forth. This should be true even if the data was perfectly normally distributed or not. Doing so, I found that King Hubbert forecast underestimated actual U.S. oil production by 22% in 1980, 32% in 1985, and 36% in 1990. This is as far as I could go, given that I had no data before 1949.

In view of the above, King Hubbert was really lucky in projecting the peak year to be between 1965 and 1970 (actual was in 1970), but his methodology totally missed the mark in forecasting U.S. oil production after 1970.

Why was King Hubbert's forecast so off? Besides the statistical technicalities (data not normally distributed) the main reason is that he missed the oil production from Alaska. In all fairness, he did conduct his forecast before Alaska became a state. But, I am not aware that he ever revised his forecast; meanwhile he certainly should have. Alaska started producing oil in 1959, but peaked in 1988. Thus, the life cycle of the Alaskan oil fields were totally different from the ones of the 48 lower states. Thus, for any prediction regarding oil production, it has to be done at the oil field level, not at a national level (or even worst World level). To streamline the data, you could group oil fields by starting date of oil production, and types (different geological conditions must lead to different production curves). Once you have your portfolio of oil field buckets so defined, you could observe the oil production level behavior of each bucket. With this data, you could then develop a Monte Carlo simulation with a few random variables that would influence oil production (oil price, conservation effort, etc.). From this you would develop a much richer output giving you a range of probability for specific oil production levels in any given year. Anything short of this effort won?t tell you anything statistically meaningful.

When Kenneth Deffeyes extends the Hubbert methodology to the whole World he runs into other major roadblocks. Deffeyes has no idea what is the actual reserve level in the Middle East. This is not his fault, no one does. As mentioned in the book, Middle Eastern oil producers artificially boosted their reserve level numbers in the late eighties when OPEC started to allocate selling quotas proportional to countries reserves. However, the industry consensus is that these reserves were grossly understated before the late eighties. Thus, no one knows reserve numbers good enough for forecasting purposes.

Deffeyes also makes a weak case that we have essentially discovered all the oil there is. I don?t think so. There is much oil field development going on in Russia and Kazakhstan. Additionally, the U.S. has greatly curtailed its oil production potential due to environmental restrictions affecting the Alaska Northern Wildlife Refuge, and the two coasts (California, Florida). These environmental regulations will be moderated or lifted as oil supply becomes a severe economic constraint. Similarly, I am not convinced that the Middle Eastern oil fields have been exploited to the limit of current technology. As we speak, Iraq's production is only progressively moving forward to its full potential. Thus, Deffeyes prediction will run in many "Alaska" type errors just as Hubbert did. His forecast will be just as flawed. Predicting the peak is one thing. Predicting how oil production declines over the next three decades is a lot more challenging and valuable to society. It is this aspect of the forecast that totally eludes Hubbert and Deffeyes methodology.

Another of Deffeyes miscalculation is his belief that our society could very rapidly adapt to a post-oil economy. In other words, hydrogen and other fuel could quickly replace oil as the supporting fuel of our civilization. This is nuts.

Mr. Deffeyes is a Cassandra on the oil outlook. Oil production will more than likely decline far slower than he predicts. But, he is a utopic Pollyanna on the oil energy substitution outlook. In other words, he is wrong on all counts.
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8 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tad overrated - in my opinion., March 22, 2002
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Reading this book brought to mind author Howard Ruff, and the ludicrous (in hindsight) predictions made in his popular late 70's manifesto "How To Prosper During The Coming Bad Years". Unfortunately, it's unlikely that Deffeyes has missed the mark as widely as Ruff did in his forecast of the (apparently) inevitable woes about to come upon us in the immediate future. I shudder to think about the ramifications that a scenario such as this book describes would produce.
That said, this book contains more then the average layman ever wanted, or needed, to know on the subject of oil exploration and production. The bulk of this book dealt with matters of only passing interest (at least to me) in this regard; apparently as an attempt to either flesh out what could have easily been contained in a brief paper, or to build credibility for the books main premise. I'm not sure which. Or perhaps I'm biased because I just sold 2,000 shares of EXXON a few weeks ago. A calamitous and unrecoverable error when viewed through the lens this author provides.
Nonetheless, I was very disappointed by this book, especially the final and rather dismissive summation presented in the last few chapters. It seems to me that there is a LOT more to be said on this topic then the author chose to present. And the reader suffers for it.
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11 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Same Old Story, November 8, 2003
Oilman (Alberta,Canada) - See all my reviews
This old chestnut is what happens when you fall in love with a theory to the point that inconvenient facts that contradict it are brushed to one side. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story ! Having been in the oil industry for 25 years I believe the following facts are not given their due weight:-
1. Unconventional sources of oil and gas have the potential to double remaining conventional proven reserves - the resource potential in Alberta's oil sands and in Venezuela and elsewhere have only just begun to be tapped.
2. The Middle East has been very lightly explored compared to the Continental USA. It is too early to quantify the amount of undiscovered reserves.
3. The Former Soviet Union also has immense potential - the Communist regime never promoted true exploration but was obsessed with meeting short-term quota's. Very little deep drilling was undertaken. True some shallow reservoirs may have been damaged by overproduction but this is dwarfed by the potential in deeper zones and unexplored areas.
4. What is true is that except for the Middle East the low hanging fruit has been largely picked. Over time therefore oil prices are likely to stay relatively high to cover the higher costs of unconventional production and high transportation costs out of the FSU. Current prices of around $30 are high enough - investment is only held back by the threat of lower prices in future. If OPEC falls apart this may well happen in the next few years.
So expect volatility but forget the Doom & Gloom brigade.
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18 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How statistics lie..., September 10, 2004
The author are not being intentionally disingenuous, he is just not knowledegable enough about hydrocarbon occurence and extractability. Yes, there are likely no more Gawars. What the Hubbard approach ignores are 1) Most countries, unlike the US with private ownership of minerals and a federal government that emulates the private sector, lease out huge blocks for several years to a single large company. If we had a system like that, the Permian Basin might have only 100 wells drilled to date, instead of the several hundred thousand it has. Clearly 3/4 of the resource would be uncovered. Political short term spoils have prevented efficient world wide exploration and production. 2) The Hubbard Peak in 1973 for US oil was the culmination of 1 particular defining technology... 2-D seismic, and its ability to image burined structural deposits. 3-D allowed us to find the scraps to small to sample with 2-D. An entire class of reservoirs worldwide has never had a defining risk-reductive technology of that magnitude... stratigraphic traps. It is likely, judging from the distribution of supergiant oilfields, that a significant reserve base can be developed if any of the promising defining technologies, such as multicomponent seismmology, are successfully commercialized. The USGS calculates over 50 Billion Barrels of Oil Equivalent in currently economic deposits of 1 million barrels of oil equivalent or larger are yet to be found onshore within existing known plays in the lower 48! 3rd, and lastly, we are talking only about traditional oil and gas reserves. Recent breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and induced fracturing technology are opening up a resource base of oil and gas AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE larger than traditional deposits. These are in the US, and more expensive, but very economical at $25 oil. Guess what? The US could be energy efficient with oil and gas alone. That fact is obfuscated by those that politically don't approve of extractive industries or carbon generating fuel sources. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world of rational debate?
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hubbert's Peak, December 22, 2005
The book Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage is about the economy and the impact one scientist had on the world with his predictions. Hubbert's theory stated that in the early 1970's oil production would reach its highest level. He was doubted my many scientists, but when it came true scientists used it to look at what the future holds for oil production. It is expected to hit this decade at some point. This book describes the origin of oil and development over the many years. It also describes several different oil fields and the prosperity of them, and the different types of techniques and bits used to find oils by scientists. Each scientist has different methods of finding the oil fields, and they use data sets to record the sites and sizes of them. It provides an overview of what the future holds for oil production, and what different kinds of energy we can resort too if needed to avoid the economic troubles lying ahead.

I thought this book was overall pretty boring. I wasn't entertained or hooked on it, and it didn't make me want to keep reading in the end. I found it very confusing most of the time, and it had a lot of information to try to digest all at once, such as numbers and equations. It wasn't the kind of book I really get indulged in, and want to read more of, or cant put down.

I would recommend this book to those who like to read books about our economy and what's going on in different industries. This book is easier to read for adults, as it contains advanced material that could confuse younger children. For those who enjoy reading advanced books about our economy or oil, this is an excellent book.
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1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hubbert's Peak, January 2, 2006
This book was on a very interseting topic. The author took time in studying this topic. It was about the impending world oil shortage. That is the time when we, the world, will run out of oil. It tells you about Hubbert's analysis of the time or year when the world will run out of oil. They then talk about a lot of other things like where oil comes from. Then they talk about where oil is. They also talk about drilling for oil. They say it takes people over 20 drills to find oil. sometimes it will take even more time then that. Then they talk about the size of oil fields. They also reexamine Hubbert's analysis later on in the book. Rate plots is brought up because the more people driving the less oil we will have in the future. They talk about the future to fossil fuels and discuss elctricity and natural gases. They also talk about how much we already have so when oil runs out we need to think about all the stuff we already have. Hubbert was a brilliant man. some gas companys tried to make him stay quiet but he didn't want to he told everybody. The author was ver knowledgable and I could tell he knew what he was talking about.

I wouldn't recommend this book to anybody unless they are very smart and want to know about the impending world oil shortage. I say again the author took time in studying this topic but that was his downfall in that he went into to much depth and made it boring. When you read it you can tell the author knew what he was talking about but he got to much into detail which is very boring. I gave it a low rating because I have a short attenion span so it was hard enough for me to make it through this book.
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10 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Enough junk pseudo-science, October 29, 2002
"jfk714" (Cambridge, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This book is one more of the genre of typical junk-science, geo-phrenology, delivered in the usual pompous manner of American tenured professors of geo-geo nonsense, complete with the irrelevant dropping of terms used in the real, hard sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry), combined with casual disregard for both scientific data and economic facts, flavored heavily with outright falsehoods.
Maurice and Smithson have already described Deffeyes best:
"Every ten or fifteen years since the late 1800's, `experts' have predicted that oil reserves would last only ten more years. These experts have predicted nine out of the last zero oil-reserve exhaustions." - C. Maurice and C. Smithson, Doomsday Mythology: 10,000 Years of Economic Crisis, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1984.
To paraphrase the late Justice of the United States Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes, when writing the majority opinion in Buck vs Bell, "Five generations of imbecility are enough."
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1 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reply From Allen Gilmer, April 10, 2006
My original comments stand. Supply of oil is not an issue... Canada with its heavy oil, the US with its non-traditional supplies, and the rest of the world once it gets around to using technology. Supply of oil is NO driver of Hubberts Peak if it truly exists. It is the deliverability of that supply and the lack of drilling infrastructure to access the anticipated reserve base that the US Geological Survey anticipates is left to be found in the US... more than 100 years worth of drilling and current capacity rates. Dearth of oil is a pipe dream of the anti-carbon or anti-oil industry crowd... nothing more than an excuse to cram its choking regulation through, since it is "end of the oil age".

Perhaps Hubberts Peak is true. If so, it is because of lack of infrastructure we have allowed to decay in low cost environments and extremely poor socio-political policies enacted in countries with command and control structures. Private ownership of mineral wealth is the key to efficient development. I don't claim that seismic technologies hold the only key. If I had to bet today, induced fracture stimulation does. n the next 5 years, we will see that several billion barrel plus oil and oil equivalent fields were discovered onshore US in the late 1990's and early 00's.

Please google me and email me of you agree or disagree. I am open to changing my mind, though not to ad hominem or anecdotal arguments.
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6 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Erroneous from the Very First Sentence, July 16, 2006
If the reader knew absolutely nothing about oil production and read this book, then he or she would believe his claim that global production of crude oil will decline permanently in the very near future. Deffeyes takes his cue from price fluctuations, and I, knowing nothing about petroleum exploration and refining and hearing a lot about 'Peak Oil' (made popular by such conspiratorial tomes as The Grand Chessboard, The Party's Over and Crossing the Rubicon), keep hearing that little statistician's nagging voice in my head, saying:

Could there be some other explanation for the price fluctuations?

We have seen this sort of thing before, folks, and we have covered this terrain before. Whether the subject is the population bomb or the direction of stock prices, the drama is always the same: someone, usually an academic, grabs the media spotlight with dire prognostications emanating from his high-tech crystal ball (typically some mathematical formula or computer model bearing the illusion of precision), and predicts doom on the horizon if we do not change course and adopt his (typically totalitarian) prescription for renewed prosperity.

Unlike the endless parade of kooks past who have predicted The Demise of Civilization (or life as we know it), the author's claim to fame is three-fold: first, he has worked in the oil industry, and had the good (?) sense to abandon it for academia just before the first oil shock (consider the historical performance of the global petroleum industry over the last four decades to see just how sensible that decision was); second, he is a geologist, and tries to impress (or rather, bore) us with an endless recitation of arcane technical information on oil exploration; and third, the coup de grace- he actually worked with the infamous M. King Hubbert. All of these things are supposed to make his pitch both credible and ring true, and I guess for those who do not like to think too deeply about things, his position really does overflow with truth and credibility.

Since I (nor anyone else) can not check the data he used to generate the estimates sprinkled liberally throughout the book for their truthfullness, that alone sends up red flags in my mind. These estimates form the basis for his dire conclusions, and the admittedly amateur scientist and statistician in me says that if those estimates are flawed, then so too are the conclusions flowing from them.

In reading this text, and others like it, I am constantly nagged by the following questions:

Did Hubbert predict that all oil production would decline, or did he really say something else? Oddly enough, Mr. Hubbert is long dead, so much the (in)famous Malthus, we can not consult him to hear what he has to say about things.

Could there be another explanation for the U.S. decline in oil production? Could that explanation, in fact, have little or nothing to do with the amount of oil in the ground?

Given that we have some idea of the situation with OPEC (and to some extent, the U.S.) with respect to production and consumption, what about the situation outside of these two regions- such as in the oceans or in the Arctic/Antartic?

If the oil supply trend globally is on the decline, why in the hell are we seeing the trend for fuel economy standards in automobiles on the decline?

Could there be some other explanation for the recent rising trend in oil prices- one having perhaps a little something to do with causes firmly rooted in a history of misguided economic and foreign policy?

The author contends that poor countries will suffer the most under the scenario of world oil shortage because poor countries need energy to run the irrigation pumps necessary to produce food to feed themselves. Granted, fuels from petroleum are one possible energy source, but there are others. Ever hear of natural gas? Since most of the poor countries also have abundant renewable resources (Brazil for example has both hydro and solar resources, as well as biomass) why not use this?

I strongly suspect (but can not prove with any certainty) that pricing problems we see today may have something to do with the sort of oil that we could produce versus the kind of oil we would ideally like to use, which incidentally OPEC has a lock on. I also suspect that maybe domestic oil production has declined not because of Hubbert's Peak but rather, much like the decline of US domestic forestry, it costs less to import the kind of crude we like than it would to produce it domestically.

In sum, this book runs on par with other erroneous Apocalyptic tomes that depend on numerical tricks, intellectual sleights of hand, strangely hidden sources and data sets, illusions of precision and rigid certainty, such as those produced by Bjorn Lomborg, Lester Brown and Stephen Moore. Readers looking for a bit more insight into the crude oil pricing problem, albeit in a historical context, would do well to consult Robert Stobaugh's and Daniel Yergin's eerily prophetic book Energy Future.
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2 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Staggeringly worthless book., May 9, 2002
"teste101" (Texas and more.) - See all my reviews
In one word ... "Malthus"
Environmentalists and socialists are endlessly incorrect, just another minor book in that vein.
Hubbert was incredibly incorrect in predecting the "oil would run out!"
Next year is Deffeyes "year the oil will run out."
The production of oil simply obey's Moore's law of technology. In fact, about every ten years, the reserves of oil DOUBLE ... every year there is MORE oil available, not less. (Just as, say, the power of computer chips doubles every couple of years.)
A completely valueless book, useful only for footnote histiography. For instance in 50 years someone may write "and there were innumerable other minor Malthus, like say Hubbert or Deffeyes..."
If you enjoy facts, read and enjoy Julian Lincoln Simon's _It's Getting Better All The Time_
If you're an environmentalist or socialist, RUSH to buy this Deffeyes book, ie, run as fast as posisble from facts.
As an incidental observation the oil science in the book is, as you expect from enviros/socialists, utterly and hopelessly out of date. To make but one example it's now trivial to turn "white oil" or "sand oil" into usable oil.
In short - utterly worthless.
Since he _wrote_ the book, the world reserves of oil have _quadrupled_ and oil technology has completely outpaced the book.
Hubbert ('1970') was utterly wrong. Deffeys says "oh, he weas just out by 30 years, really its 2003!" Deffeys is utterly wrong, some other environmentalist will come along and say "oh, he weas just out by 30 years, really its 2045!"
Et cetera.
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Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage
Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage by Kenneth S. Deffeyes (Paperback - October 19, 2008)
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