Hubbert’s petroleum production model: an evaluation and implications for World Oil Production Forecasts
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Following Hubbert’s successful prediction of the timing of US peak oil production, Hubbert’s model has been used extensively to predict peak oil production elsewhere. However, forecasts of world and regional peak oil and natural gas production using Hubbert’s methodology usually have failed, leading to the implicit belief that such predictions always will fail and that we need not worry about finite resources. A careful examination of Hubbert’s approach indicates that the most important reasons for his success in the US were stable markets, the high growth rate of demand, ready availability of low cost imports, and a reasonable estimate of easily extractable reserves. This analysis also shows that his model cannot predict ultimate oil reserves and that it should be considered an econometric model. Building on Hubbert’s vital insight, that cheap fossil fuel reserves are knowable and finite, one can state that for world peak oil production, political constraints should be much more important than resource constraints.
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