When the U.S. energy secretary spoke of "peak oil" ...
... He was referring to the arguments of ASPO that we have already reached peak oil.
The U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, knows and understands the issues of global peak oil production. During a talk he gave in March 2005 as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory, Steven Chu advanced the hypothesis of an imminent decline in world production of liquid fuels (ppt 3.6 MB, see p.16) .
Interesting: Steven Chu at the time chose to put forward the thesis of Colin Campbell, founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO), a research group composed of academics, and especially leading engineers who previously had worked for the oil industry. The arguments of ASPO have been considered as overly pessimistic by most official sources (firms, governments, etc..)
There Dr. Chu oversaw the work of David Fridley, an expert on the economics of oil who has become an activist in the Transition Town movement.
In a portrait released in 2009, Fridley said :
[Chu] was my boss (...) He knows all about peak oil, but he can't talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can't say anything about it.
What was the origin of Steven Chu's prognosis, made before he came to the highly sensitive post of energy secretary to Barack Obama? From the calculations of Dr. Colin Campbell, former vice-president of Fina Group, based on confidential data of the upscale consulting firm IHS .
The numbers of IHS on the planet's oil reserves are significantly more pessimistic than those available on the Internet, including those published by British Petroleum .
The IHS reports are protected by strict copyright. The oil companies and major banks have pay very dearly (but the rate itself is confidential) for access to IHS analysis [see the report published in Le Monde 2 in 2005].
Steven Chu, who received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997, could have chosen to rely on the more optimistic prognosis. published then by the Bush Administration, the Department of Energy (DoE) which continues to have the responsible today.
In 2004 for example, the DoE published the hypothesis that oil production would grow smoothly until at least 2037 .