Colin Campbell, geologist, author, and founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas ASPO [visit] spoke with Jim Puplava on the Financial Sense Newshour Saturday, November 6 saying “The bulk of our oil came from just two epochs in our Earth’s long history, just 90 million and 150 million years ago, and we are now entering the second half of the oil age.”
In short, for the past 100 years, humankind has built a civilization using the energy derived from oil created from “very rare circumstances in geological time”.
World discoveries of oil fields peaked in the 1960s, and in 1981, the world began to use more oil than it found in new fields. Since then, we’ve been drawing from the same mega-fields discovered decades earlier.
A leading figure in the peak oil movement, Mr. Campbell admits that “there’s no good information about oil reserves in the public” but described what prompted the doubling of reported oil reserves in the 1980s.
Since prices were based on a quota system – which was based on reserves, when prices plunged in the mid-80s, countries like Saudi Arabia, whose land held the largest oil fields in the world, increased their reserves overnight, thereby increasing their quota, and elevating the price. Other members of OPEC followed suit, increasing reserves many times over with no new discoveries, only an accounting trick.
He believes, along with Ken Duffeyes [visit], that the peak of regular conventional oil was in 2005, and he puts the peak of all categories of oil, including deep water oil, tar sands, and these “more difficult things that are slower to extract”, in 2008.
“It [the date for peak] might have been influenced by the fall in demand due the economic recession, but that’s seems to be about the date as far as I can piece it together.”
Although there is great debate about the date of peak oil, focusing on a date misses the point. According to Mr. Campbell, the actual date of peak oil is “not as important as the vision of the long slope on the other side of peak, that’s really what’s going to change the world when we enter the second half of the age of oil, when production declines, and the economy contracts. It’s really very obvious.”
The decline is slow at only 2-3% per year, but it is declining. “The banks have been lending more than they have on deposit confident that tomorrow’s growth will be the collateral for today’s debt. Well that’s no longer valid, and so the thing begins to unravel”.
Robert Hirsch, who in 2005 did a study for the federal government on peak oil,
suggested that the best case scenario to mitigate the effects of peak oil was to start planning 20 years before the peak date, and the second best scenario would be to start planning 10 years before peak date.
Mr. Campbell agreed with Mr. Puplava that we probably don’t have twenty years, or even ten years to prepare. He thinks we face a radical change in the way our economy runs, and though he didn’t mention a cold fusion scenario, he’s optimistic that a more sustainable and local economy could be an opportunity for humanity, and that we could be happier than we are now.
“There could be better relationships and better understandings that flow from this… I don’t know if you’ve been to an airport in recent years, but it’s just a kind of nightmare experience.”
Listen to Colin J. Campbell on Jim Puplava’s Financial Sense Newshour archives for November 6 or click the link below for the 30 minute audio.