The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Peak Oil

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 7, 2010

The theory of Peak Oil is one of the most widely discussed--and intriguing--energy topics in the blogosphere. Simply put, the theory refers to the widely-held concept that oil is finite and production inevitably will decline, forcing major changes to our way of life, our economy, as well as the fate of humankind worldwide. The theory is attributed to M. King Hubbert, an oil company geologist, who created a graph called Hubbert's Curve predicting a sharp decline in oil production near the beginning of the 21st Century.

Hubbert's theory has captured the attention--and the concern--of people around the world who recognize the importance of oil to our daily lives.

In addition to heating and cooling, cooking and growing our food, and providing personal mobility, oil's chemical properties are used in medicines, plastics, clothing, building materials, and thousands of consumer goods that have extended the human life span and contributed to the economy. In the United States, the oil and natural gas industry also supports 9.2 U.S. million jobs.

This reliance on oil has prompted many people from scholars and engineers to politicians and bloggers to speculate when world oil production will peak and start to decline. Some believe it already has peaked.

Many believe the world is depleting its oil supplies; others focus on EROI (energy return on investment) and postulate that the cost of producing oil will outstrip oil's economic value discouraging production; and the National Petroleum Council (NPC) says there are plenty of hydrocarbons below ground but policies above ground will sharply limit access. (API is not a member of the NPC.)

Today and tomorrow, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO) will hold its 2010 conference in Washington. I plan to attend the conference as a blogger and will offer my observations on this blog.

Please note that API does not have a position on Peak Oil. I also want to divulge that I met Dr. Hubbert many years ago and discussed Peak Oil with him, but I do not have an opinion on his theory.

In addition to covering the conference on this blog, I plan to live tweet my experience as well. You can follow the conversation on my Twitter handle--@janevanryan--or via the @EnergyTomorrow account.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.