A few weeks ago, an apparently popular survivalist website, oriented towards city-dwellers, told its readers that “Peak Oil Is Already Here: What It Means for Civilization (urbansurvivalsite.com)” In part they claimed: “peak oil isn’t about running out of oil. It’s about that point in time when oil becomes scarce enough that its price makes it an unacceptable source of energy.”
So supposedly, we can’t afford to pump any more oil out of the ground. Indeed, it is claimed from some corners that the only reason we can afford to pump oil is because government subsidizes the majors (major oil companies) and the entire network.
Part of the justification for this claim is the drop in oil production and consumption during the 2020 Pandemic Panic. And the way oil prices have been creeping up in the past several months. More recently, the actions by the new regime in the Fifty States have driven fears (and futures) even higher.
Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Although it is unfair and not really a good comparison (the markets are too different). compare petroleum with sand and gravel. In 2020, Sand and gravel production and sales ALSO dropped. Big time, in most parts of the country and the world. Have we reached peak sand? Peak gravel? No, beyond any doubt. What we saw was the result of an economic crash – a crash created by governments supposedly “panicking” over the Beer flu. Here in the States (and in Europe) billions and billions of dollars of construction projects were shut down, postponed, or stretched out.
And what do you think that construction projects use lots of lots of? Besides sand and gravel? Gee, guys, construction uses oil: LOTS of oil. As gasoline and and diesel. To power heavy equipment AND light equipment. Even electrical tools often do not run of the grid, but on generators. Gensets which burn gasoline or diesel. And billions of tons of sand and gravel did not get dug up, processed, and shipped to the job sites. Which means LESS fuel burned. And less bought.
Not even counting the billions of gallons not burned by vehicles in 2020. No, not because Tesla and everyone else are selling millions of electric cars. It is because millions and millions of people were told to stay home. Laid off from those cancelled construction projects, from cafes and bars and liquor stores – all normally patronized by construction workers and many others. Many of who were locked down in their homes, told they could only do and buy “essential” Things. It was not the cost of production or the sale prices for oil and gas and asphalt and plastic that caused production to drop: it was government action.
While my point in this article is not to review the article in Urban Survival Site, it is worth noting that all the evidence they use to prove that Peak Oil is here, or nearly here, and is bad (and something to “survive”), comes from government agencies and published sources that are (to put it mildly) biased and compromised. They’ve been pushing “Peak Oil” for more than a century. (Far longer than the “climate warming” and “new ice age” and “buried in waste” environists.) And their forecasts, however expert and educated they seem to be, have always proved to be fake prophesy.
And sadly, bought by millions of people – including the politicians and bureaucrats now in charge. Not necessarily because they really believe in it, but because it serves various purposes for them. More power, more wealth, more control, to name the major ones. Just as touting it serves Urban Survival Site’s desire to fire people up and go out and buy the products of their advertisers, and get more people to visit their site.
The entire concept of Peak Oil serves the central banks, the transnational corporations (including the petroleum Majors), the bureaucrats and the politicians well. In helping them reach their goals. As excuses for grabbing more power, imposing more taxes and more and more actions. At the same time (as is the case with most environist claims and the claims of radical enemies of liberty), the concept is based on assumptions, many of which have been proven time and time again to be wrong. And “science” that isn’t even able to achieve the status of a “theory” using standard scientific methodology.
Some of those are fundamental. First, that oil and gas are “fossil fuels” and there is a finite, limited, supply which will finally all be consumed. Second, that we are not able to reduce costs of production as it becomes harder and harder to find and produce. Third, that we have reached (or nearly reached) the limits of technical advances and improvements – not just in exploration and production but in transport and utilization. Somehow, over more than a century and a half, geologists, petroleum engineers, refiners, automotive engineers, and plain old roughnecks and roustabouts and truckers have shown that the assumptions are not just wrong, but incredibly wrong.
In the next part of this commentary, I’ll give some examples.
And restate this point: Peak Oil has not happened and may never happen, for two reasons. One – people are often wrong (as we discussed above. Two – because though we are often wrong, we are (and can be) very innovative. When we have freedom, and are rewarded in a free market, for being innovative in good ways!
And we we keep government from stealing it all.