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Peak Oil



All oil production, when drawn on a graph of production versus time, follows a bell-shaped curve,
known as “peak oil”. That is, oil production initially increases, then peaks, then inevitably and relentlessly
declines. This happens in an individual oil well due to the physical properties of oil and how it is stored undergound.
It also happens to the total production summed over many wells in an oil field, over a whole oil production region, a
country, and eventually, to the entire world.

Once oil production has peaked (that is, “peak oil” has been reached) there is nothing that can be done to
stop the decline in the rate at which the oil can be extracted. It is a matter of the physics of oil (and you
can trust me on this, I have a first-class honours degree in physics) — it has nothing to do with economics or
how high the price of oil becomes.

There are still people in the media who refer to peak oil as being a theory. However, peak oil stopped being a
theory in the early 1970s, when the oil production of the United States peaked, and has since then continually
declined. You can see this as the green shaded area at the bottom of the graph above. (See here for more)…

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