July 05, 2009
1999 Oil Production Model Pretty Accurate So Far

Euan Mearns, writing on The Oil Drum Europe, takes a look at predictions made by Richard Duncan and Walter Youngquist in a paper they published in 1999 about expected future oil production peaks in assorted oil producing countries. So far Duncan and Youngquist's predictions on peak dates have achieved pretty decent accuracy given the quality of data they had to work with to make their predictions. If their predictions continue to be even half as accurate we are in deep trouble.

Duncan and Youngquist list 42 countries representing 98% of global production in Table 1. Of those, 8 countries were already past peak at the time the paper was written and a further 5 countries were forecast to peak some time after 2007 (the year I first looked at this data), those being Brazil, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A further 3 countries are not listed by BP leaving a group of 26 countries that were forecast to peak between 1999 and 2007. I have just updated this exercise using the 2009 statistical review.

I compared Duncan and Youngquists's forecast date with actual peak dates for individual countries. The distribution of these differences are shown in the chart up top. Once I had sorted the data I realised the most significant point was the rough normal distribution and that countries that had been "overestimated" were balanced by countries where an "underestimate" had been made. Summing the differences yields a value of -7 years when averaged for the 26 countries yields -0.3 years or - 4 months per country forecast. Weighting the countries for annual production reduces this bias further. This is a remarkable achievement.

These guys predicted a 2007 world oil production peak. Oil went a little higher in 2008. If they were only off by a year then the current recession is just the beginning of a deeper downturn.

Duncan and Youngquist forecast that world oil production would peak at 30.64 Gb/ annum in 2007 translating to 83.95 mmbpd. According to BP, 2007 production was 81.44 mmbpd that was exceeded by 81.82 mmbpd in 2008. It is of course premature to call 2008 as peak year although I am increasingly skeptical that the 2008 production will ever be exceed. If Duncan and Youngquist's unbiased accuracy follows through to Brazil and the 4 big gulf producers - Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, then this will underpin their 2007 peak oil forecast, reinforcing the view that 2008 saw the passing of peak oil.

Duncan and Younquist told us 10 years ago that peak oil will be buried in a bumpy plateau and that a number of years must pass before it will be evident from declining production that peak has indeed passed. The exact timing is unimportant. The important thing is the knowledge that we are within the plateau and that some scientists do understand the above and below ground factors leading to peak and that their warnings of decline past peak and its consequences should not be ignored.

Energy analyst Charlie Maxwell is predicting a 2015 date for world oil peak production. In that case we are going to go thru a period which Robert Rapier calls "Peak Lite".

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 July 05 12:07 PM  Energy Fossil Fuels

Nico said at July 30, 2009 8:54 AM:

I think technology will get us out of this, but a little public anxiety might be good to actually make it happen.
here's some encouraging news related to peak oil:


Genome pioneer Craig Venter has teamed up with Exxon Mobil to turn living algae into hydrocarbons, for processing into gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. (Source: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327186.000-craig-venter-programming-algae-to-pump-out-oil.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news)

A process that could make 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre per year, replacing all fossil fuels used for transportation, has been developed by Joule Biotechnologies. Joule Biotechnologies grows genetically engineered microorganisms in specially designed photobioreactors. The microorganisms use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol or hydrocarbon fuels. (Source: http://www.technologyreview.com/business/23073/)

Shai Agassi electric car entrepreneur at TED talks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcoJt2KLC9k

MIT students are working on an an all-electric car with a top speed of about 161 kph, a family sedan capacity, a range of about 320 kilometers and the ability to recharge in about 10 minutes, to be completed by next year. (Source: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/072209-mit-electric-car-may-rival.html)

National Institute of Standards and Technology scientists have developed a new class of economically viable solar power cells using organic photovoltaics. (Source: http://www.physorg.com/news168018281.html )

Stirling Energy Systems has designed a new simplified, low-cost system for focusing sunlight on a Stirling engine to generate electricity. (Sandia National Laboratories/Randy Montoya) The company expects electricity from the systems to cost between 12 and 15 cents per kilowatt hour, and has contracts with two California utilities to supply a total of 800 megawatts of solar power in Southern California. (Source: http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/23079/)

Future Pundit:

This latest announcement from Exxon fits into a larger trend where the big oil companies pull back from solar photovoltaics and other non-liquid energy forms and instead focus their efforts...

Forbes writer Christopher Steiner has a new book about the approaching era of declining world oil production entitled $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline...

Several diesel and hybrid cars beat regular gasoline counterparts in operating costs. An annual study by IntelliChoice.com shows most 2009 model-year hybrid and “clean diesel” vehicles deliver a lower cost...

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©