INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON OIL DEPLETION
Uppsala, Sweden, May 23-25, 2002
Organised by Uppsala University and ASPO,the Association for the Study of Peak Oil
|Past Oil Forecasts, and the "Limits to Growth" Message
by Roger W. Bentley, ODAC, UK
One of the reasons that people, ‘oil experts’ in particular, are disinclined to believe the serious situation forecast by current global oil depletion calculations is their conviction that virtually all past oil forecasts have been wrong, particularly those made in the 1970’s. This view sees the present calculations as just another example of ‘crying wolf’.
On examination, it turns out that most reputable oil forecasts made in the 1970’s were substantially correct.
Oil forecasts from the 1970’s mostly fit into one of four
It was this fourth view that characterised the forecasts from all reputable organisations at the time (for example, Esso, Shell, the UK Dept. of Energy, the US Congress, the World Bank), and which was also reflected in virtually all textbooks and monographs on energy published at the time (for example, ‘Only One Earth’, Ward & Dubos, 1972, for the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm; or ‘The Global 2000 Report to the President’, 1982.)
This fourth, ‘production peaking’, forecast was based
In the event, global demand was substantially curtailed by the price rises of the oil shocks, and an unrestricted logistic profile was not followed; with the result at the estimate of conventional ultimate of around 2000 Gb (still to-day, for this purpose, the best estimate to use) simply moves the global conventional oil production peak to around 2010.
Thus to-day’s oil depletion calculations are, in quantitative terms, essentially exactly the same warnings about the wolf’s approach (i.e., the peak in the global production of conventional oil) as were made by reputable organisations in the 1970’s.
These are warnings it would therefore be wise to heed.
The paper will also address subsequent forecasts, such as BP’s ‘Oil Crisis Again ..’, and the failure of that company’s more recent ‘Big Field Forecast’; as well as analysing the calculations in the Club of Rome’s famous ‘The Limits to Growth’ study.
[ R.Bentley, March, 2002 ]