Thursday, November 04, 2004

Kurt Vonnegut is a marvelous writer. He has hit the emotional import of the issue dead on. But, as with all great writers, he achieves this by taking poetic license with the facts. We’re not about to run out of oil; we’re about to hit Hubert’s Peak--the top of the bell shaped oil production curve.

The U.S. hit Hubert’s peak in 1970 at around 10 million barrels a day. Now we produce barely over half that.

The Energy Information Agency, which keeps track of these things, puts out a monthly report of the oil production in 30 countries plus a catch-all “other.” Of those, 12 are now in decline, inlcuding such major producers as Norway, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Venezuela, and of course, the first to exploit it's oil reserves, the U.S. Altogether these 12 countries are 8 million barrels a day below their peak production. Last year alone they lost over a million barrels a day of production.

With every new country that rolls over into decline, it makes it that much harder for the remaining countries to replace the loss plus keep up with increasing demand (lately led by the Chinese who want their own auto indutry just like ours.)

The Saudis sent a chill through the market recently when, after promising to increase their production, all they could come up with some very poor grade, heavy oil. The Suadis were supposed to be able to carry the load for several more decades. But like all OPEC countries, the Saudis lie about how much oil they have left.

The future is not one where the lights suddenly go off, it is one where the economy keeps banging its head on an ever lowering ceiling.

Oh...and then there are the millions who will die as food and water supplies are depleted. But that’s another story.


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