“Peak Oil” Blog Signing Off

Offshore Oil Rig

It wasn’t that long ago that the hottest phrase in energy policy was “Peak Oil,” the idea that the world’s oil supply had reached its peak and would soon start declining precipitously, with all of the attendant economic and geopolitical consequences you can imagine may result from that. In the years since then, though, we’ve seen something of an energy revolution, with petrochemicals taking the lead. Key events along this road have been the development of shale oil fields in Canada and North Dakota, advances in deep sea drilling technology, and the increased availability of natural gas thanks to fracking and other processes. While the price of oil remains high thanks in no small part that the majority of it comes from one of the most politically unstable parts of the world, it has become clear in recent years that fears of declining worldwide supplies that were so prevalent just a few years ago have proven to be largely overblown. In rather obvious recognition of that fact, one of the most prominent blogs of the “peak oil” movement is essentially shutting down:

The Oil Drum, a website created and frequented by advocates of “peak oil,” is closing its doors July 31 after an eight-year run.

The site will be kept as a repository of old articles, but will no longer offer new ones, according to a post on the site dated July 3.

The decision was reached thanks to “scarcity of new content caused by a dwindling number of contributors” and the cost of running the site, the post said.

The post garnered more than 700 comments from readers mourning the site’s virtual death. Commenters suggested “donate” buttons and other ideas to raise money.

Platt’s blog The Barrel reported the announcement earlier Tuesday.

With news of record-breaking North American oil and gas production seemingly every day, maybe it just got too hard to maintain a site devoted to the notion that the world’s oil production was at or near a peak.

A history of Google searches that Energy Ticker did back in April showed searches for “peak oil” fading around 2005, while “fracking” started popping after 2010.

Once again, it seems, the Malthusians and doomsayers have been proven wrong.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Quick Takes, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    Don’t worry, God has given us enough fossil fuels that it will last until the second coming of Jesus Christ.

  2. JKB says:

    Interesting, the Oil Drum closing, the NYT “climate” blogs shutting down. Unlike in the early ’80s when the global cooling/population bomb rabble rousers faded from the newspapers and collected dust in the libraries, only to be leafed on occasion by fading professors who coulda been a contender, the most recent Malthusians will live on in the internet. Unvisited, except perhaps by the nostalgic, but not lost in some card catalog, or deep in some newspaper archive, hidden away from sight.

  3. Stonetools says:

    Peak oil may have indeed been wrong, but global warming is good science and is right.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m sad to see it go. The Oil Drum had a tremendously well-informed posting staff and commentariat. It wasn’t a “red meat” site; it was a science, technology, and business site with many of those writing posts actually working in the industry or having worked there. I’ll miss it.

  5. rudderpedals says:

    Like David Schuler I’m sad about this too. There’s much good material and informed discussion over at TOD on mining technology. It was the go-to place when the BP well blew its stack. Sorry to see it go.

  6. ernieyball says:

    Once again, it seems, the Malthusians and doomsayers have been proven wrong.

    No Kidding…

    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/back-to-4gallon-gas/

    Ernieyeball says:
    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 00:24
    Doomsayers are Doomsayers are Doomsayers.
    Doesn’t matter if they are Holy Rollers or Climate Alarmists or Peak Oilers or Population Time Bombers. They all have their Holy Books which were all written by human beings who make mistakes. They all have their prophets either living or dead. No matter how wrong their predictions are, like 2000+ years and it hasn’t happened yet, for them it will always be around the corner.
    All I know for sure is NO ONE can predict the future!

  7. ernieyball says:

    For more on the Prophets of Doom see:
    http://reason.com/blog/2013/05/24/paul-ehrlich-sounds-the-trump-of-doom-on#comment

    (This footnote is a good place to start:
    *Actually he added the “1980s” to the 1973 edition. In 1968, massive famines were definitely going to happen in the 1970s.)

    For the sages who believe there is nothing worthwhile at Sneezin’, just don’t bother yourselves to read this.

  8. Davebo says:

    While the price of oil remains high thanks in no small part that the majority of it comes from one of the most politically unstable parts of the world

    So it’s political instability in Canada, Brazil and Mexico that’s run up the cost of oil Doug??

    Surely you can’t be that naive about global markets right? Because that line makes the Peak Oil guys sound smart. Let me try to clue you in kiddo. The price of oil is higher because of this thing called supply and demand. Because it’s a bit more expensive to drill for oil in 11,000 feet of water off the coast of Brazil, West Africa even Louisiana than it is on land on the Austin Chalk.

    It’s about the difference between a 1000 horsepower land rig with a day rate of $30,000 and a ultra deepwater drill ship with a day rate of close to a million.

  9. Brett says:

    I’ll third the sadness, although I always thought the Peak Oil fears were overblown. Not because “Peak Oil” is a false idea, but because I always figured the increasing production and slowly rising costs would allow us to shift away from heavy reliance on extracted oil over a period of several decades. A lot of the presumption of disaster among Peakists was either that it would come quickly with little time to adjust, or that there was somehow no way to replace oil in terms of energy supply.

  10. rjs says:

    peak oil will be back…give it a dozen years…

  11. Gustopher says:

    Oh, given how we are changing our climate to make it uninhabitable with all the oil we burn, I think the doomsayers will have quite a resurgence with this.

    The doomsayers predicting peak oil? Those were the optimists.

  12. ernieyball says:

    @rjs: peak oil will be back…give it a dozen years…

    So will Jesus.
    It’s in the Bible and now on the internet. It must be double true!

    ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΩΝ 1
    Acts 1 Greek NT: Stephanus Textus Receptus (1550, with accents)
    11οἳ καὶ εἶπον, Ἄνδρες Γαλιλαῖοι τί ἑστήκατε ἐμβλέποντες εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν οὗτος ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀναληφθεὶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οὕτως ἐλεύσεται ὃν τρόπον ἐθεάσασθε αὐτὸν πορευόμενον εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν

    (Acts 1 v11 New International Version
    “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”)

    Any day now…

  13. tyrell says:

    Consumption in the US has been going down for the last few years. Production is going up. We will see the day when other countries will get their oil from the US and we will control the price.
    I and many of you out there remember the infamous gas “crisis” of the ’70’s (there was no shortage, it was all a big hoax): long lines, prices doubled, rationing, and closures. The oil companies closed the service stations and converted them to “convenience” stores. After that there was plenty of gas. Nixon threatened an investigation of the big oil companies and the next thing you knew, he was pushed out the door!! I still think this was some sort of experiment by the govenment/oil complex just to see how the American people would react. Well they acted like helpless sheep.

  14. Ernieyeball says:

    @tyrell: I still think this was some sort of experiment by the govenment/oil complex just to see how the American people would react.

    It’s right up there with the collusion between Big Nicotine, Big Alcohol and the Big O to prevent weed from ever being legal. They don’t want any competition with their authorized addictions.

  15. Barry says:

    @JKB: “Unlike in the early ’80s when the global cooling/…”

    This has actually been covered; ‘global cooling’ was purely a magazine cover phenomenon, as opposed to a scientific phenomenon.

  16. Electroman says:

    @Barry: That’s absolutely right – it was magazine covers, shock headlines and an episode of that really bad pseudoscience show with Leonard Nimoy as the narrator. Anyone who wants to argue with this, please show me the peer-reviewed papers.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    Sure…new technology like fracking is extending the life of reserves…but fracking depends on high fuel costs because it’s expensive to get that oil. If oil prices aren’t high you can’t justify the cost of getting it out of the ground. So maybe they should just change the name of the blog to Peak Cheap Oil?
    And all that really expensive fossil fuel only worsens AGW…so it costs a lot more in both the short run and the long run.
    But you did get to write a nice misleading post about it…so there’s that.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    “…We will see the day when other countries will get their oil from the US and we will control the price…”

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read that wasn’t written by Jenos or JKB.

  19. Rob in CT says:

    The smart version of Peak Oil has always in my experience been that prices will rise, because finding more oil will get harder and harder and thus more expensive. The easy stuff has been drilled.

    I think it’s a bit lazy to go with a shot at “Malthusians.”

  20. Rob in CT says:

    @tyrell:

    Quite the conspiracy theory you have there, Tyrell.

  21. Tyrell says:

    @Rob in CT: Well, we still do not know what exactly was going on. I knew a guy who worked at the pipeline terminal nearby and he said that there tanks were full and couldn’t hold anymore. I could only get gas certain days of the week, based on the last number of the vehicle tag. It took everybody by surprise, even Washington. In a few months, it was just as suddenly all over.

  22. john personna says:

    The problem “Peak Oil” had was that it could not throw “doomers” under the bus. At any given PO event people who thought we needed carbon-fiber cars had to share the podium with people who were forming wilderness communes centered on manual labor.

    You can say The Oil Drum had good commentators, and perhaps many were, but they also had to accept and play nice with “catabolic collapse” types.

    Whenever a community decides to keep its nuts, to keep the counts up, trouble follows.

  23. monk says:

    Proven wrong? Oil production per capita peaked back in 1979. We’re resorting to fracking because conventional production peaked in 2005. And the most optimistic views of non-conventional production forecasts an increase that won’t even allow us to meet increasing demand needed to maintain economic growth.

  24. john personna says:

    @monk:

    Peak Oil was not about “per capita” ten years ago.

    Neither was it about maintaining economic growth.

    It was about falling production, including by advanced recovery techniques, and failing economies as a result (possibly and including apocalyptic scenarios).