What is Peak Oil?

The term peak oil refers to a maximum rate of global oil production.

Total world production of crude oil has been almost flat since 2005, the amount of energy (and money) it takes to extract new oil supplies is rising, while competition for oil is increasing—-both from growing domestic consumption in oil-producing nations and from China, India, and other rapidly developing economies.  New oil supplies are increasingly coming from difficult to access places (such as deep-water wells or war-torn nations) or expensive processes (such as hydraulic fracturing and tar sands).

Peak oil does not mean “running out” of oil.  However, a plateau or slow growth in global oil production has far-reaching consequences for our economy, national security, and the environment, especially in a world of steadily increasing demand.

Of the 42 largest oil producing countries in the world, representing roughly 98% of all oil production, 30 have either plateaued or passed their peaks.

About the Site

Peak-Oil.org is updated regularly by the inimitable Tom Whipple and maintained by Post Carbon Institute.

The Legacy of ASPO-USA

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas USA (ASPO-USA) previously published Peak Oil News and Peak Oil Review as part of an effort to help Americans understand and adapt to the changing realities of oil and fossil fuels. In December 2017 ASPO-USA ceased operations after more than a decade of public education and advocacy concerning energy and energy limits.

Founded in 2005 as a network of scientists, researchers, analysts, and other energy observers, ASPO-USA brought to public attention emerging evidence that the Age of Oil was reaching a critical point. The concern was that world oil supplies would not keep pace with rising global needs because of a complex combination of physical, economic, and geopolitical constraints. That concern was seemingly validated by the historic rise of oil prices to all-time highs just three years later in 2008. The subsequent crash in oil prices was short-lived as prices rose once again to historic levels reaching the highest ever average daily prices from 2011 through 2014.

A decline in oil prices in late 2014 convinced the public and many policy makers that oil supplies would be ample for the long term. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) has now warned that shortages and price spikes may be as near as 2020. Concerns about constraints on oil supplies remain as valid as ever.

The IEA declared that conventional oil production peaked in 2006. We are now relying on costly, hard-to-get unconventional oil (from tar sands, deepwater offshore and tight oil deposits) to fuel our society. This reliance has resulted in a destabilizing rollercoaster for prices and supplies.

Logic dictates that society moves closer each day to the all-time peak and subsequent decline of world oil production. Simply put:  We remain unprepared for this event.

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