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US Dept of Energy office supports Peak Oil theory

[ An office of the US Department of Energy addresses - and supports - Peak Oil research in this unusually frank document entitled Strategic Significance of America’s Oil Shale Resource. Produced by the DoE's Office of Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves, it disregards the overly optimistic oil production projections of the DoE's own Energy Information Administration. It references instead the research of Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrère, Kenneth Deffeyes, Matthew Simmons and other so called 'pessimists' in one of the first serious official documents supporting the thesis of an imminent oil peak. (In fact a later version of one figure included in the report was first published here on by Werner Zittel and Jorg Schindler.) The report looks towards the US's shale deposits as a potential source of fuel for the future. -AF ]

~~~~ Full Report: ~~~~ (PDF, 1.1MB)

~~~~ Extract: ~~~~


The growing dependence of the United States on foreign sources for its liquid fuels has significant strategic and economic implications. The United States has been a net importer of oil for more than 50 years, and today, imports nearly 60 percent of its liquid hydrocarbon needs (Figure 1). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects that U.S. imports may double, to 19.8 MMBbl/D by 2025. By then imports will exceed 70 percent of demand, the vast majority coming from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). As imports rise, America’s vulnerability to price shocks, disruptions, and shortages will also increase1.

The expected increase in demand for imported oil comes at a time when other consuming countries are also increasing their demand for oil, primarily from OPEC. Is such a growing dependence on imports and on OPEC accept able? Is it even possible for OPEC to meet the ever-increasing world demand for oil? And if it is possible, is increasing dependence on OPEC oil in the best long-term interests of the United States?

Adding urgency to these questions is the indication that world oil production may peak sooner than generally believed, accelerating the onset of inevitable competition among consumers (and nations) for ever-scarcer oil resources. Figure 2 illustrates the supply peak concept, first espoused by Dr. M. King Hubbert (Ref. 1), and now being debated by a number of respected petroleum experts (Ref. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8). All of these experts agree that world petroleum supply will peak; the question is when? When the petroleum production peak occurs, the consequences will be severe if import-dependent nations have not prepared for it.

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