The term peak oil, shorthand for 'global oil-production peak', "means that a turning point will come when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce in a given year and, after that, yearly production will inexorably decline due to the structural lack of innovation regarding exploration led by ExxonMobil's 'cheap oil' strategy: global disorder of 'incorporated governance' - budget crime under market pressure.
It is usually represented graphically in a bell curve. The peak is the top of the curve, the halfway point of the world's all-time total endowment, meaning half the world's oil will be left. That seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but there's a big catch: It's the half that is much more difficult to extract, far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and located mostly in places where the people hate us. A substantial amount of it will never be extracted," wrote James Howard Kunstler in Rolling Stone magazine. The Long Emergency, 2005
Kunstler says that the United States "passed its own oil peak -- about 11 million barrels a day -- in 1970, and since then production has dropped steadily. In 2004 it ran just above 5 million barrels a day (we get a tad more from natural-gas condensates). Yet we consume roughly 20 million barrels a day now. That means we have to import about two-thirds of our oil, and the ratio will continue to worsen."
Energy Department consultants warned in 2005 that "the world is fast approaching the inevitable peaking" of global oil production. 
- 1 The invasion of Iraq
- 2 Corporate Takeover: a different kind of "oil war"
- 3 Chevron Quietly Endorses a Peak Oil View
- 4 "Geopolitical" Peak Oil
- 5 We Will Reach Peak Oil in Five Years...
- 6 But IEA Says Oil Will Peak in 2020
- 7 Quotes
- 8 "Peakers" and "peak oil" proponents
- 9 "We have oil"
- 10 Related SourceWatch Resources
- 11 External links
- 12 References
The invasion of Iraq
"There is no shortage of self-described whistle blowers on the left who believe that the 2003 invasion of Iraq is the first step in a strategic global plan: secure the oil facilities of what was the leading anti-American oil producer in the Middle East (although, as every American should know, Saddam Hussein was a dear friend when he was fighting Iran). But mainstream journalists -- even investigative journos such as Greg Palast, Seymour Hersh and Michael Moore -- have not come forth with any treatise on this issue.
"Nor is there a 'smoking gun' -- the neocon think tank known as the Project for the New American Century urged President Clinton to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 1998 for security reasons, but mentioned oil only once.
"The only grist for this conspiracy mill is the supersecret conference on energy that Dick Cheney organized in the spring of 2001. Were the assembled oil executives told that the U.S. was considering an war on Iraq as a military response to peak oil? That this war would be precipitated by a pretext that might include a terrorist incident? That authorities would look the other way when they had intelligence that such an attack was imminent?" Source: Voice in the Wilderness Blogspot, December 29, 2004.
A more viable theory is that peak oil rhetoric, which focuses on oil supply and could be "resolved" by simply taking more oil from others or exploring for more, is useful to the Bush Administration because it distracts from the real reason why oil consumption habits must change, that being global warming.
Corporate Takeover: a different kind of "oil war"
"But, more fundamentally, the markets are moving higher and higher because it looks like the world is actually running out of oil. There's been a big dispute about this in the oil industry for a long time; but the Unocal takeover is one example of this. The oil companies can't find more oil, and so they're buying other companies in order to increase their reserves." --James A. Paul, April 6, 2005.
Chevron Quietly Endorses a Peak Oil View
The facts are compelling.
Many of the world’s oil and gas fields are maturing. And new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract—physically, technically, economically, and politically. When growing demand meets tighter supplies, the result is more competition for the same resources.
The only energy we have in abundance: Human energy™.
We can wait until a crisis forces us to do something. Or we can commit to working together, and start by asking the tough questions: How do we meet the energy needs of the developing world and those of industrialized nations? What role will renewables and alternative energies play? What is the best way to protect our environment? How do we accelerate our conservation efforts? Whatever actions we take, we must look not just to next year, but to the next 50 years.
Source: Chevron Oil's website page, "Real Issues."
"Geopolitical" Peak Oil
In August 2008, the New York Times explored the issue of "geopolitical peak oil"; the issue being not that the world is running out of oil, but the fact that the majority of the world's remaining oil reserves are not controlled by the oil majors but state oil companies. As late as the 1970s, Western corporations controlled well over half of the world’s oil production. These companies — Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Total of France and Eni of Italy — now produce just 13 percent.
Where they do have assets, in countries such as Venezuela and Russia, the companies are being forced to renegotiate contracts with recently emboldened national oil companies. The result is that the oil majors are in "crisis," according to Amy Myers Jaffe, the associate director of Rice University’s energy program in Houston. She told the New York Times: "It’s a crisis of leadership, a crisis of strategy and a crisis of what the future looks like for the supermajors. They are like a deer caught in headlights. They know they have to move, but they can’t decide where to go."
Today’s 10 largest holders of petroleum reserves are all state-owned companies, like Russia’s Gazprom and Iran’s national oil company. "There is still a lot of oil to develop out there, which is why we don’t call this geological peak oil, especially in places like Venezuela, Russia, Iran and Iraq," Arjun Murti, an energy analyst at Goldman Sachs told the paper. "What we have now is geopolitical peak oil." 
We Will Reach Peak Oil in Five Years...
In October 2008, a taskforce of eight leading British engineering, utility and transport companies predicted the world will reach peak oil in three to five years. The taskforce looked at three possible scenarios: a collapse in production, a decline, or a plateauing of production once peak oil is reached.
Taskforce chairman, ex-Greenpeace scientist and chair of SolarCentury, Jeremy Leggett, said that even Shell Oil agreed with the third option, although the company is more optimistic about when the plateau will be reached.
According to Leggett: “What we are arguing is that the oil industry and oil institutions have been irrationally exuberant about their ability to meet demand going forward, in much the same way that the financial institutions have been irrationally exuberant about their ability to manage complex financial instruments.”
Leggett told the BBC that the warnings were there, but now was the time to act “What we are saying is let's get this right,” he said. 
But IEA Says Oil Will Peak in 2020
For years, the world's official energy watch-dog, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has ignored warnings from credible NGO’s and analysts that peak oil is fast approaching. Just three years ago, its executive director, Claude Mandil, labelled those who warned of peak oil as “doomsayers”. “The IEA has long maintained that none of this is a cause for concern,” wrote Mandil.
In its World Energy Outlook for 2007, the IEA predicted a rate of decline in output from the world’s existing oilfields of 3.7% a year. Even so, in a quite amazing turnaround, in late 2008, the IEA predicted a rate of decline of 6.7 per cent, meaning that oil will peak as early as 2020.
In an interview with George Monbiot from the Guardian, Fatih Birol, chief economist to the IEA admitted that decline rates “were significantly higher” than before. Amazingly he admitted that this year they had done detailed research on a field by field basis and hence come up with the new figure. Before they had only done estimates.
More importantly, it is significant in many ways. The IEA has never before forecast the exact date when peak oil might occur. And even 2020 is now likely to be over optimistic. Also the IEA is expecting that Canada’s dirty tar sands will take up the slack. That is why the IEA is now admitting that we are on an “unsustainable energy path”. 
- "We've embarked on the beginning of the last days of the age of oil." --Mike Bowlin, Chairman and CEO, ARCO (1999), as quoted in the book The Party's Over -- Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg.
- "My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel." --Saudi saying.
"Peakers" and "peak oil" proponents
"Peakers" are those who subscribe to the belief that the world's oil resources have peaked already. They include:
- Colin J. Campbell
- Julian Darley
- Kenneth S. Deffeyes
- David Goodstein
- L.F. (Buz) Ivanhoe
- Jean H. Laherrere
- Michael T. Klare
- James Howard Kunstler
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer
- Michael C. Ruppert
- Matthew R. Simmons
- Ron Swenson
Anti-"Peakers", or those who do not subscribe to "peak oil" theory
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- China: The next economic superpower
- climate change
- Coal reserves
- Energy Bulletin
- Gasoline for America's Security Act of 2005
- Global Compact
- global warming
- Iraq's oil industry
- Libyan oil industry
- National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska
- Oil and War in Iraq
- oil depletion
- peak oil: books
- Peak Oil Caucus
- population control
- Saudi Arabian oil industry
- sustainable development
- United Nations Sustainable Development Program
- peak oil in the dKosopedia.
- Hubbert peak (peak oil) in PsychCentral (includes information from the Wikipedia).
- Hubbert peak (peak oil) in the Wikipedia.
- Current Oil Prices, World News Network website.
- Global complexxon of incorporated governance: budget crime under 'cheap oil' pressure
Reports & Studies
- Michael C. Lynch, "The Long-Term Petroleum Outlook," Testimony to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives, March 14, 1996.
- Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD), "Oil Production," U.S. House of Representatives, March 14, 2005.
- Robert L. Hirsh (project leader), Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling, "Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management," February 2005. (This report commissioned by the US DOE - is also known as "The Hirsh Report").
- Kevin Hall, "Mexican oilfield crucial to U.S. facing decline,", Knight-Ridder Newspapers, March 16, 2006.
Maps & Statistics
- "World map showing top 10 countries with oil reserves," mapsoftheworld.com.
- "Declining Oil Reserves: Some Key Concepts and Possible Consequences." Includes The Hubbert Curve and a table showing "Leading Oil Countries' Production, Reserves and Resources in 1995 (In Billions of Barrels = Gb)."
We have oil
- "And surely the world is running out of oil, right? Wrong! The world has plenty of oil, enough says the US Geological Survey to last for at least the next several hundred years or longer. Worldwide, there are 14,000 billion barrels of crude oil reserves. In its World Petroleum Assessment 2000 report, the global reserves of crude oil were estimated to be some 3,000 billion barrels." --Alan Caruba, February 17, 2005.
- "As a shareholder I also know that of all the oil ever known to exist in the Texas and Oklahoma oil fields, only one-third has been removed from the ground, with the remaining two-thirds still in the ground. Why? Because it is cheaper to buy Saudi Arabian oil. When the world price of oil goes up, the oil industry will bring their Texas/Oklahoma oil out of the ground. So again, we do not need more oil in America. All we need is already here in capped oil wells." --Sam Booher, a shareholder in ExxonMobil, Phillips Petroleum Company and BP-Amoco Oil Companies and chairman of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. Oil and Gas Reporter, September 1, 2001.
- "Officials from Saudi Arabia’s oil industry and the international petroleum organizations shocked a gathering of foreign policy experts in Washington yesterday with an announcement that the Kingdom’s previous estimate of 261 billion barrels of recoverable petroleum has now more than tripled, to 1.2 trillion barrels. ... Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s key oil and finance ministers assured the audience — which included US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan — that the Kingdom has the capability to quickly double its oil output and sustain such a production surge for as long as 50 years." Arab News, April 4, 2004.
- Ted Trainer, "The Death of the Oil Economy," Earth Island Journal, Spring 1997: "A new report on world oil resources, World Oil Supply 1930-2050 (Campbell and Laherre, Petroconsultants Pty. Ltd., 1995), concludes that the planet's oil supplies will be exhausted much sooner than previously thought."
- "The New Economics of Oil. With technology dragging down the cost of finding and producing the precious stuff, prices won't rise--even as demand soars," BusinessWeek, November 3, 1997.
- Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherrère, "The End of Cheap Oil," Scientific American, March 1998.
- Richard C. Duncan, "The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge," Pardee Keynote Symposia, Geological Society of America, Summit 2000, Reno, Nevada, November 13, 2000. Re "The Olduvai Theory of Industrial Civilization."
- Colin J. Campbell, Lecture: "Peak Oil," Technical University of Clausthal, December 2000.
- Richard Heinberg, "A Letter from the Future," Muse Letter, March 2001.
- Senator Ron Wyden, "The Oil Industry, Gas Supply and Refinery Capacity: More Than Meets the Eye wyden.senate.gov June 14, 2001
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "The Background is Oil," From the Wilderness, December 18, 2001.
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "FTW's Series on the End of the Age of Oil - Population Reduction of 3 Billion A Global Necessity? What Will Be the Next Target of the Oil Coup?" From the Wilderness, January 29, 2002.
- Colin J. Campbell, "Peak Oil: an Outlook on Crude Oil Depletion," MBendi Profile, revised February 2002.
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Oil Prices and Recession," From the Wilderness, April 4, 2002: "Oil Peaked in 2000."
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "The Forging of 'Pipelineistan'. Oil, Gas Pipelines High Priority for U.S. in Central Asian Military Campaigns," From the Wilderness, July 17, 2002.
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Seeking Understanding About 9-11. Is the Empire About Oil? -- A Response to the Naysayers," From the Wilderness, August 8, 2002.
- Michael C. Ruppert, "The Unseen Conflict. War Plans, Backroom Deals, Leverage and Strategy -- Securing What's Left of the Planet's Oil Is and Has Always Been the Bottom Line," From the Wilderness, October 18, 2002.
- Michael C. Ruppert, "Colin Campbell on Oil. Perhaps the World's Foremost Expert on Oil and the Oil Business Confirms the Ever More Apparent Reality of the Post-9-11 World," From the Wilderness, October 23, 2002.
- Michael C. Ruppert, "Wheels Come Off U.S. War Plans for Iraq. Administration Making Riskier, More Volatile Moves to Begin 'All or Nothing' Gamble for Iraqi Oilfields," From the Wilderness, October 28, 2002.
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Much Ado about Nothing -- Whither the Caspian Riches? Over the Last 24 Months Hoped For Caspian Oil Bonanza Has Vanished With Each New Well Drilled -- Global Implications Are Frightening," From the Wilderness, December 2, 2002.
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Emptying the Larder. The First Real Pains of Peak Oil and Natural Gas Depletion Are Hitting Home in the U.S. As Ranchers Pick Up Rifles and Oil Stocks Hit 27-Year Lows. Can $3.00 Gasoline Be Far Behind?" From the Wilderness, January 30, 2003.
- Richard Heinberg, "The Party's Over. Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies. Industrial nations' fossil-fueled joyride is about to end . . . is anyone prepared?," The Muse, 2003.
- Julian Darley, Interview with James Howard Kunstler, Global Public Media website, March 7, 2003.
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "U.S. Intentions," From the Wilderness, March 7, 2003.
- "Oil War," BBC, April 5, 2003: "BBC Cpmfirms 'Peak Oil' and What It Means for the Planet."
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Debunking Mainstream Media's Lies About Oil," From the Wilderness, April 29, 2003.
- Michael C. Ruppert, "Paris Peak Oil Conference Reveals Deepening Crisis," From the Wilderness, May 30, 2003; revised June 9, 2003.
- Matthew R. Simmons, "Revealing Statements from a Bush Insider about Peak Oil and Natural Gas Depletion," From the Wilderness, June 12, 2003.
- Richard Heinberg, "Smoking Gun: The CIA's Interest in Peak Oil," Muse Letter, August 2003; posted at From the Wilderness, August 15, 2003.
- Barbara Yaffe, "Guess what? We're running out of oil and gas," Vancouver Sun (Canada), September 6, 2003.
- Graham Jones, "World oil and gas 'running out'," CNN (posted at From the Wilderness), October 2, 2003.
- Dale Allen Pfeiffer, "Eating Fossil Fuels," From the Wilderness, October 3, 2003.
- Andy Coghlan, "'Too little' oil for global warming," New Scientist, October 5, 2003: "Oil and gas will run out too fast for doomsday global warming scenarios to materialise, according to a controversial analysis presented this week at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. The authors warn that all the fuel will be burnt before there is enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to realise predictions of melting ice caps and searing temperatures."
- "Bottom of the barrel. The world is running out of oil - so why do politicians refuse to talk about it?" Guardian/UK, December 2, 2003.
- Raymond J. Learsy, OPEC Follies, National Review Online, December 4, 2003.