R.I.P. The Oil Drum 2005-2013

It was with some dismay that I read this morning of the impending end of The Oil Drum, perhaps the leading “peak oil” blog …

7-3-2013 1-48-54 PM

… due to scarcity of new content caused by a dwindling number of contributors. Despite our best efforts to fill this gap we have not been able to significantly improve the flow of high quality articles.

Because of this and the high expense of running the site, the board has unanimously decided that the best course of action is to convert the site to a static archive of previously published material as of 31st July 2013. We will continue to post articles up to this date. Afterwards any articles will be held as a public archive into the foreseeable future, so that others can continue to learn from the breadth and depth of knowledge published by our many authors, over the 8+ history of this remarkable volunteer effort.


The Oil Drum is the latest victim of the nation’s ongoing boom in oil and natural gas production. Peak Oil Theory has become, for lack of a better word, unsustainable. They’ve had some very talented, analytical and insightful writers over at The Oil Drum; the names of Gail the Actuary, Robert Rapier, JoulesBurn and Art Berman come to mind.

If I seem to be taking some delight in this development, I’m not. I consider the Oil Drum crowd to be compatriots and seekers of the truth of resource supply. The difference may be one of perspective: cup half empty vs. cup half full.

While I’ve spent considerable time and effort debunking Peak Oil Theory, I describe myself as something of a “Plateau Oiler”. What classic (King Hubbert-style) Peak Oil Theory neglects is the powerful effect of economics on the search for resources. Our current boom has sustained because we have had oil prices in the range of $100 per barrel for four years. There is almost a limitless resource base to convert to reserves. In my opinion, we can sustain today’s rates from high cost sources like the shale plays and deepwater. I remain skeptical about our ability to sharply increase supply. I’m not a cornucopian, and in that sense I share some common ground with the more reasonable Peak Oilers.


And even at today’s prices, oil is still a miracle fuel and a bargain. Europeans are willing to pay double and more the U.S. price of gasoline & diesel. Sure, they modify their use somewhat, but they are simply making an economic choice about its use.

Really, I take the end of The Oil Drum as something of a contrary indicator: when the last Peak Oil enthusiast throws in the towel, could calamity be just around the corner?



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