[ Mobjectionist blog has reproduced an article from a 1970s fishing magazine (of all places) which focusses on the work of M. King Hubbert. Of particular interest is the following section which reminds us that while Hubbert was somewhat overly pessimistic in his projections, his estimates of ultimately recoverable oil in the US look set to prove far more accurate than many subsequent overly optimistic projections made by the US Geological Survey and the like (who maintain similar outlooks globally today despite being proved wrong in this instance). For reference, Jean Laherrère now puts the estimate of ultimate recoverables from the US lower 48 at about 230Gb. -AF]

Let’s go back now, and take a look at some of estimates for ultimate total production of crude oil that were made in the period following the 1956 prediction by Hubbert.

Date Ultimate Total Production Estimate By
1956 150-200 billion barrels Hubbert
1961 407 -507 billion barrels Senate Committee on Interior & Insular Affairs (Lasky)
1962 885-1,000 billion barrels (by inference) McKelvey, (U.S. Geological Survey) letter to National Academy of Science of July 20,1962: “. . .Zapp’s estimate of 590 billion barrels is still a conservative estimate because it allows for only 50 percent recovery, whereas 75-85 percent is probably reasonable to expect for uItimate.”
1963 650 Duncan & McKelvey (U.S.Geological Survey)
1965 billion barrels (slight variations from year to year but all McKelvey & Duncan (U.S. Geological Survey)
1966 in this range) McKelvey & Duncan (U.S. Geological Survey)
1967 McKelvey & Duncan (U.S. Geological Survey)
1965 400 billion barrels Hendricks. (U.S. Geological Survey)
1969 168 billion barrels Hubbert, Energy Resources in “Resources and Man” Chapter 8, National. Academy of Science”
1971 432 billion barrels on 60% recovery National Petroleum Council American Association of Petroleum Geologists (Ira H. Cram)22
1972 420-2250 billion barrels Theobald, Schweinfurth & Duncan, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 650 11
1972 No limit, apparently Vincent E. McKelvey, Director, U.S. Geological Survey in his McKinstrey Memorial Lecture, “Mineral Resource Estimation and National Policy”, presented at Harvard University in February of 1971 and published in 1972. Concluding statement:”

“Personally, I am confident that for millenia to come we can continue to develop the mineral supplies needed to maintain a high level of living for those who now enjoy it and to raise it for the impoverished people of our own country and the world. My reasons for thinking so are that there is a visible undeveloped potential of substantial proportions in each of the processes by which we create resources and that our experience justifies the belief that these processes have dimensions beyond our knowledge and even beyond our imagination at any given time”.

See link for the very long article: