What Hubbert Practitioners, Art Berman, And The EIA Agree On With Shale Oil

Oil Is Oil

A big problem with energy thinking today is the notion that "oil is oil" and it doesn't matter where it came from. Wrong! A major criticism you see of Hubbert is when they point to all the "oil" we've found (shale oil, tar sand, kindling wood) and throw it in the URR pot (Ultimate Recoverable Resource) and generate a production curve. This is not Hubbert's method at all, and when you see them doing this, you can ignore the whole analysis. It totally misses the vastly different set of recovery physics between conventional crude and shale, or anything else. Each set of physics demands its own Hubbert tabulation. His method can be done, for example, with the coal production of Australia, or any resource that has and will have fairly consistent recovery geophysics.

The shale oil of the US is ultra critical to oil prices and the world economy. A little considered fact with oil is that world conventional production has been declining since 2005 except for just two players:

Ken Deffeyes, using Hubbert knowledge he learned from him personally, wrote his book Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak in 2005 where he said the peak is:

postulated as 24 November 2005 (`Thanksgiving' Day), after this date world oil will go into decline, slowly at first then more rapidly

This was for world conventional oil. Considering that the two players left out of the graph above are climbing almost entirely with shale (US) and bypassed oil (Russia) what you have shown is the world's conventional oil production. Deffeyes missed the peak by maybe a few days.

Isn't it ironic that these two big players, whose oil peaked over 30 years ago at the height of the cold war, are now both displaying a production resurgence that is changing perception of peak oil today. I discuss what's up with Russia here , which may have a lot to do with the cold war. But what about the amazing shale revolution of the US? It is very critical to the global picture, so it would behoove us to use the best projection tool there is to see about the future of shale. This method requires a few years of actual production data to make its projection. Now that we've had a few years of shale oil production, has anyone bothered to tabulate a true Hubbert curve for our shale oil ?

Yes. Tad Patzek has done a Hubbert curve on the two big shale oil plays of the US and published them earlier this year - "Is US Shale Oil Production Peaking?"

Who Is Tad Patzek?

Tad Patzek is Professor of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering at the Earth Sciences Division and Director of the Upstream Petroleum Engineering Center in KAUST, Saudi Arabia.  You can read his blog here.

He and Art Berman, a "good friend", collaborate to make Hubbert curves for both gas and oil in the shale fields. Berman supplies the data and Patzek does the rest. According to Wikipedia,

"The focus of his research is mathematical modeling of earth systems with an emphasis on multiphase fluid flow physics and rock mechanics [spending] years as a researcher at Shell Development under M. King Hubbert"

A fellow grasshopper of Hubbert, like Deffeyes, he generates curves per the methods used in his highly cited study  "A Global Coal Production Forecast With Multi-cycle Hubbert Analysis". If anyone on earth is qualified to make a Hubbert curve for Shale, it would be Patzek. Here is the Bakken:

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