Definition of Peak Oil: What Peak Oil Is, and Where to Find Peak Oil Information
According to the basic definition found on Wikipedia, “Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline.”
By observing production rates of individual wells all over the world, as well as related wells in a combined oil field.
The rate of production for an oil field over any period of time typically grows exponentially until the a peak rate, at which point it then declines — often rapidly — until all of the oil in the field has been depleted and is gone. Learn more information on this concept by studying the Hubbert curve.
Not to be confused with the overall depletion or use of oil supply, peak oil instead can be defined as “the point of maximum production.” Depletion refers to any period of time in which oil supply and oil reserves are in decline, or falling.
According to other sites (listed and linked to below), “Peak oil theory states: that any finite resource, (including oil), will have a beginning, middle, and an end of production, and at some point it will reach a level of maximum output as seen in the graph to the left.”
As with any other phenomenon charted along a bell curve, the peak of production occurs when approximately half of the oil from the world’s oil fields has been extracted. Though there are exceptions, this generally holds true for everything from a single individual well to an entire oil field — to an entire region where oil is being extracted. It may be safe to assume this applies as well to the entire world’s oil supply. Beyond the half-way point, oil becomes exceedingly more difficult and expensive to extract.
So What Exactly Is Peak Oil?
“Peak oil is the simplest label for the problem of energy resource depletion, or more specifically, the peak in global oil production. Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, one that has powered phenomenal economic and population growth over the last century and a half.” The current rate of oil production, which includes both extraction and the later process of oil refining is currently running at around 85 million barrels per day.
While the inevitable peak in our global oil production does signify negative things to come, it doesn’t refer to the end of oil. In fact, the way back down the bell curve will make way for more oil production, only at severely increased costs: thus, peak oil means the end of what can be seen as “cheap oil,” which we all enjoy today in terms of gasoline, heating oil, and more.
Links to More Information on Peak Oil
Peak Oil Definition and History on Wikipedia
Peak Oil News and Message Boards on Peak Oil
Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas on ASPO International/Peak Oil.net
Discussions about Energy and Our Future on The Oil Drum
A Peak Oil Primer and Links: Energy Bulletin from the Post Carbon Institute
Peak Oil Information and Strategies on Oil Decline
Videos and More Information on Peak Oil
(Photo Via: GasPricesUSA)