Let's pretend for a moment that Peak Oil(tm) happens...what could be done, today, in 2020?

Will it? I think you and I are possibly using different working definitions of peak oil. I suspect they definition you’re using is “at some point, production of oil will peak and then decline,” which, yeah, I don’t think is in dispute. But I think it’s not ‘peak oil’ unless that peak is driven by supply-side limitations. If oil production peaks, as it has for many fields, countries, and even regions already, because we’re simply tapped out, that’s peak oil. If production begins its decline because we don’t need as much any more, that’s not peak oil.

The reason I use the narrower definition is because it fits what people think about when they think about peak oil: spiking prices, potential military conflict, the need for crash programs to reduce oil demand, etc. A demand decline would see none of these. Under the narrow definition, peak oil is not certain to happen. I would even venture it’s not even likely to happen. But that’s not really what this thread’s about.

I don’t see a large distinction between the two. As supply is limited and all the cheap oil is exhausted, prices rise. The increase in price allows other more difficult deposits previously considered “unprofitable” to become profitable, so production shifts over to those areas (until those too are exhausted, and everything moves to yet even more expensive sources). As prices continue to rise, consumers naturally migrate to other alternatives (hybrid/electric vehicles, carpooling/mass transit, remote working, solar, wind, natural gas, battery storage), reducing oil demand, which causes overall oil production to fall and prices to stabilize. At that point, Peak Oil has been obtained, and it was almost purely driven by supply side limitations, but it was not Peak Oil™ .


We hit Peak Coal decades ago. That doesn’t mean we aren’t continuing to extract coal, burn coal, or build new coal plants and there are solid projections that we’ll continue to use coal in large quantities for several decades more.

Of course, that’s all still different from the situation in the OP where there’s something that, beyond Peak Oil, creates a 5 year limitation.

In the case of coal, if production had dropped essentially to nothing 5 years after peak or even 5 years from now, that would be catastrophic for billions of people.

I was just looking at an article saying globally an investment of 550 billion dollars was needed in oil and gas to avoid large price spikes in oil and gas.
It was a bit dramatic and panicky in tone , and implied that it was an additional 550 billion to get global production from 97.5MM b/d to tbe projected demand 101 MM b/d in 2022, but really just an increase of 200 billion over this years 350 billion. 2019 spend was 560* billion for reference.

Anyway the current issue is really about investment to sustain current supply and increase it rather than the availability of the resource. The US unconventional land market has seen quite a change , many small independents not getting any more funding, but some majors going all in and others exiting. Shell just sold its west Texas assets to Conoco Phillip’s for example.

What could be done with 200billion if invested in non fossil fuel is probably a question for one of the other threads .

  • edit to adjust 2019 number to 560.

Last decades numbers here if interested, its from a different source to the article inread , so numbers may vary.


The trick is going to be in the time scales; if it’s something like coal, where it became economically infeasible in a relatively slow way, petroleum will simply be replaced in those uses where it’s economically infeasible, with a minimum of disruption, much as we already see in plenty of other markets- if gasoline gets expensive, people will start buying efficient vehicles, hybrids and full electric vehicles.

But if we start seeing wild price swings and shortages and stuff like that, things will get interesting, as the market can’t adjust fast enough.