As many people now know, 50 years ago this March M. King Hubbert predicted that US Lower 48 and Texas oil production would peak, and enter a terminal decline, somewhere between 1966 and 1971. Dr. Hubbert also predicted that world oil production would peak, and enter a terminal decline within 50 years, i.e., by 2006. To be clear, despite what is either a profound misunderstanding of or a misrepresentation of Dr. Hubber'ts work in some quarters, Dr. Hubbert was not predicting the end of world oil production by 2006; he was predicting that production peaks when producing regions have consumed about half of their recoverable
conventional oil reserves.
In our previous article, "M. King Hubbert's Lower 48 Prediction Revisited," we outlined a simplified way of predicting what Kenneth Deffeyes designated as Qt, ortotal recoverable conventional oil production for a region. The method has been designated Hubbert Linearization, or HL, by Stuart Staniford, with The Oil Drum blog.
Using the HL technique, the purpose of this paper is to use historical Texas and Lower 48 oil production as a model for future oil production in Saudi Arabia and the world. Figures One and Two show HL plots for Texas the Lower 48. Texas peaked at 56.5% of Qt. The Lower 48 peaked at 51.9% of Qt.
Note that prior to its peak, Texas was the "swing producer," i.e., its production was regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission in order to keep oil prices within a certain range. Perhaps because of its swing producer role, Texas peaked later than the Lower 48, relative to their respective Qt's. However, Texas oil production, now down about 75% from its peak, has fallen much more sharply than has the Lower 48 overall, now down about 50% from its peak.
Figure Five shows superimposed production graphs for Texas and the Saudi Arabia, with Texas production in 1972 lined up with Saudi Arabia production in 2005. Note the difference in the vertical scales.
Fig 6. World and Lower-48 oil production (in million of barrels per day)
- BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2005
- RRC:History of Texas Crude Oil, Annual Production, and Producing Wells
Jeffrey J. Brown is an independent petroleum geologist in Addison, Texas.