Oil is a ﬁnite resource. more signiﬁcantly, studies dating back to the mid-ﬁfties show that production begins to drop off signiﬁcantly as a ﬁeld reaches about half its productive capacity. The 1970 peak in United States oil production, and its subsequent decline, were predicted in 1956. Likewise the peak in the North Sea foreseen some years ago, occurred in 2000 and 2001.
The application of these same techniques to global oil production has become controversial. Various studies put the peak in world production at between 1996 and 2035. However, most predict a date between 2008 and 2016. Recent price rises are, in part, a result of a decline in production relative to demand. This is the trend we would expect immediately before a peak in global pumping. However, whether or not we are experiencing ‘peak oil’ will not be clear for some time. It will take a number of years of production statistics to demonstrate this.