From Dr John Howard Wilhelm.
Sir, Your assertion that Peak Oil is dead and that US output of liquid petroleum has regained its previous peak reached in 1970 should not go unchallenged (“Looking past the death of Peak Oil”, Editorial, June 17). According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, US field production of crude oil in 1970 was 9.6m barrels a day. For 2013 it was 7.4m b/d. That is, in 2013 US crude oil production stood at 77 per cent of its annual 1970 peak.
If one looks at the facts, the situation is far more fraught than implied by your analysis later in the piece. Earlier data from the Bakken oilfield indicated that annual production per well averaged 85,000 barrels a year initially with a decline rate of 40 per cent a year, which implies on a compounded basis 856 barrels a year or 2.35 b/d in 10 years, surely a level at which a stripper well would be shut down.
Later data I was sent by a prominent geologist indicate an initial annual rate per well of 133,955 in the Bakken with an annual decline rate of 63 per cent, which implies that in seven years the daily production rate of the average well could well be even lower than the 2.35 b/d.
From everything I know, this situation broadly applies to all US and world shale oil and gas developments. Given this and given the reality cited in your piece that “it is a striking fact that since 2005, all the increase in the world’s crude oil production has come from the US”, it would seem premature to regulate the Peakists’ argument to the “dustbin of history”.
John Howard Wilhelm, Ann Arbor, MI, US
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.