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Bad Times for Mathusians: The Oil Drum Calls it Quits

July 17th, 2013 · No Comments · Economics

Almost as if it was choreographed, it was only minutes after reading the passage below from the Economist that I discovered that the respected blog The Oil Drum was to be no more.

“Scratch the surface of the planet and the chances that hydrocarbons will spew forth appear to grow by the day.”

This reality decimates even the now highly diluted position now taken by ardent peak oilers. After digging through the entrails of The Oil Drum, we can see what began as a call to prepare/avoid the painful hardships we will experience from “a global collapse in production.” Has evolved into a concern regarding high prices (from new demand,) fear of climate change, and that Iraq “perceives that too much oil in the market may well be destabilizing.”

A Question of Timing:

While no rational person would claim the supply of fossil fuels is infinite, it’s equally silly to deny that it’s only a matter of time before life on earth is decimated by an asteroid strike or the collapse of the sun. All of the above are certain dire outcomes, yet none merit daily posts by a cadre of PhDs. The reason? Mitigation is unlikely/impossible and none of us or anyone we or our children will ever know will be affected.

Why Did they Quit Now?

The answer can be found in any Econ 101 textbook. The fruits of market innovation in response to high prices are being realized, and supplies are surging. The benefits of horizontal drilling and fracking were first seen in the natural gas market:

peak gas

Now that the technology is rapidly expanding into the arena of oil production, it’s clear that the chart below from the Economist reflects only the beginning of what will be a long-term and significant deviation from the predictions of the “peak oilers.”

Economist peak


To use a couple of pop-culture metaphors, The Oil Drum served it’s position well as the Lisa Simpson of blogs, but ultimately became a blog about nothing.


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