Colin Campbell, the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, and widely recognised as one of the world’s leading experts on oil reserves, is considered by many to to be in the ‘pessimist’ camp when it comes to oil reserves. He predicts that world oil production will peak and begin to decline after 2008. Below, smiley, a contributor to the forums, collates a list of country by country predictions of oil peak by Colin Campbell in 1999, and when they actually peaked for comparison.

I thought it might be interesting to asses how Campbell’s model worked out in the past.

I found his predictions of 1999 and compared them with the production data from 2003 (BP). Since Campbell had to be working from the 1998 data I took the time window between 1996 and 2001 and looked at all the countries that either peaked in that period or which were predicted to peak by Campbell. From that I composed the following list.

Country (Campbell peak estimate), actual peak production year, percentual decline since peak

Countries which peaked according to prediction

Egypt (1996), 1996, -16%
Gabon (1996), 1996, -34%
Argentina (1998), 1998, -11%
United Kingdom (1999), 1999, -22%
Colombia (2000), 1999, -32%
Norway (2000), 2001, -4.5%
Oman (2001), 2001, -14%
Congo (2002), 1999, -17%

Countries which could have peaked but too early to tell.

Yemen (2003), 2001, -3.6%
Denmark (2001), 2002, -1.3%
Angola (2001), 2002, -1.9%
Ecuador (2000) 2001 Production in 2003 was higher but this appears to be a singular event due to a pipeline issue.

Countries which didn’t peak at all although they were predicted to

Qatar (1999)
Malasia (1999)
China (2000)
Mexico (2000)

Of course Campells predictions represent the top of a mathematically smooth curve, whereas actual production is not, so an error margin of at least 2 years on either side should be appropriate. But then I find his predictions pretty accurate and it shows that the model is working relatively well.

The only thing is that his predictions are more often too early than too late, especially for the 4 countries, which have not yet peaked.

Most of these countries have seen a significant expansion of their offshore and deepwater activities in the past few years, so it looks like Campbell was underestimating production growth for these applications.

Or perhaps he is a bit too pessimistic.

I hope this is helpfull for you


Andy notes that “Remember Campbell does not consider deepwater oil as conventional oil. He refers only to regular oil when he defines the peak dates.”

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