Physics Faculty Publications

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2012

Publication Source

Energy Policy

Abstract

Debates about the possibility of a near-term maximum in world oil production have become increasingly prominent over the past decade, with the focus often being on the quantification of geologically available and technologically recoverable amounts of oil in the ground. Economically, the important parameter is not a physical limit to resources in the ground, but whether market price signals and costs of extraction will indicate the efficiency of extracting conventional or nonconventional resources as opposed to making substitutions over time for other fuels and technologies. We present a hybrid approach to the peak-oil question with two models in which the use of logistic curves for cumulative production are supplemented with data on projected extraction costs and historical rates of capacity increase. While not denying the presence of large quantities of oil in the ground, even with foresight, rates of production of new nonconventional resources are unlikely to be sufficient to make up for declines in availability of conventional oil. Furthermore we show how the logistic-curve approach helps to naturally explain high oil prices even when there are significant quantities of low-cost oil yet to be extracted.

Inclusive pages

586-597

ISBN/ISSN

0301-4215

Document Version

Postprint

Comments

The document available for download is the authors' accepted manuscript. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, No-derivatives license in compliance with publisher policy on self-archiving. Permission documentation is on file.

Publisher

Elsevier

Volume

51

Peer Reviewed

yes

Keywords

Peak oil, Logistic curves, Extraction costs