Month: April 2012

Peak Oil? A conversation with Dr. Duncan Clarke

This was Dr. Duncan Clarke speaking to me in 2012. At the time, oil prices were around $90 a barrel and Peak Oil was trending. I read a couple of books on the subject and thought the world was coming to an end, so decided to get a second opinion from a South African expert in the oil and gas industry.

Hello Dr Clarke

Q#1.The Ideas of the Peak Oil advocates have gained widespread support and acceptance over the last decade. Peakists maintain that global oil production has, is, or will soon “peak”, thereafter beginning a precipitous decline with grim consequences for “hydrocarbon man”. Is there anything wrong with this picture?

Clarke: It has not happened, and will not. In reality the peak oil syndrome has lost traction increasingly over the last few years as it has become further unhinged from reality following new oil discoveries in the pre-salt, the opening of many frontiers of high potential, as technologies have advanced (as they will always), following inter-fuel substitution, the developments in shale oil/gas, and while capacity has increased in several key domains (Iraq just one, Saudi Arabia another, United States, Brasil also). With the advent of the climatology fixation and the mandates in favour of non-hydrocarbon fuels imposed by Governments (typically with subsidies) on large parts of the energy world, so the prospect of “peak demand” looms larger, although as one Chevron senior executive remarked: “when you can tell me we have reached “peak technology” then maybe we can consider peak oil”. Inside the world oil industry peak oil concepts have little respect, and this from the largest collection of cutting-edge geologists on the planet.

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