Slapped around by the invisible hand

The permanently trendy “peak oil” theory states that production of oil has hit a peak, and will inexorably decline in the future, leading to the meltdown of civilization, etc. etc. etc. The initial predictions were that production would peak in 1995; this was subsequently revised to 2005, then to 2006, then to 2007, and now estimates are running anywhere from 2006 to 2030.


This weekend’s Guardian carries an article about Fort McMurray, a mining town in Canada. Buried away in the article:

  • Canada’s oil reserves – mostly in the form of tar sands – are six times as large as Saudi Arabia’s;
  • The cost of extraction is about USD 27 per barrel – maybe USD 40 if you factor in the cost of upgrading the heavy crude from the tar sands to lighter, more usable crude. With oil trading at around USD 90 a barrel, extraction has suddenly become immensely profitable.

So, uh, yeah. You were saying something about 1995? Or 2030?

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