Another evidence of Hubbert curve is the North Sea oil reserve. The United Kingdom and Norway started their commercial production in the North Sea reserve in the late 1970s. Figure 1.6 shows total daily crude oil production of U.K. and Norway, two major oil producers at the North Sea. The production peaked in 1999 and then declined. Different from the U.S. curve, the North Sea curve shows plateau around its peak.
World crude oil production record does not show a clear sign of peak production until today (Figure 1.7). It is because peak location of Hubbert curve depends on total amount of oil reserve. Discoveries of new oil reserve may have postponed peak production. New technologies of resource extraction, such as deep sea drilling, also have increased production, which also has postponed peak production. As we have witnessed in the cases of mega-oilfields, technological improvement cannot solve the problem of absolute resource scarcity (Gowdy & Julia, 2007).
The key insight of Hubbert curve is that production curve of non-renewable resources has bell-like shape: After peak, total production eventually declines. According to the Hubbert curve, though we have successfully postponed peak production, a permanent drop in total production seems unavoidable.
Gowdy, J., & Julia, R. (2007). Technology and petroleum exhaustion: Evidence from two mega-oilfields. Energy, 32, 1448-1454.
U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2009). Independent Statistics and Analysis: International. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/contents.html.
*This series of posts is excerpted from my dissertation. I hope these posts help my visitors understand this critical matter better.*