Bakken Oil Peak by Jean Laherrère

This is a guest post by Jean Laherrère

The problem of forecasting future Bakken production is that estimating reserves of shale oil is harder than for conventional oil and is very unreliable because many confuse reserves and resources, and shale oil reserves depend more from economy than from technology. Many estimate the amount of hydrocarbons generated by the source-rock and believe that a significant percentage could be recovered: the study of the main Petroleum Systems in the world estimate than only about 1% will recovered in conventional fields, no more could be expected in unconventional fields.
US Shale gas production started in 1821 in Fredonia for lighting when whale oil price was about 2000 $2014/b, but was replaced by conventional oil in 1859 because a largely lower price.

How to estimate future production?

Drilling activity is a good way to model production with a shift.
In my MIT Paris paper «The end of the peak oil myth» MIT club de France- Paris 28 April 2014, I was convinced that North Dakota oil production will peak within 2014 using a correlation between oil production and shifted number of rigs, guessing the value of the shift and the relationship between rigs and production.

Jean 1

This April 2014 graph is wrong when adding present data at July 2014 (still rising after a minor peak in November 2013) and I have changed the shift from 20 months to 30 months and the correlation oil/rig, but I feel uncertain about the reliability of such graph.
When active in exploration I was used to drill 9 dry holes out of 10 wildcats: I am used to be wrong and I am not afraid of that. To make discovery you have to take risks.
My new model forecasts ND oil production peak in 2015 at less than 1.2 Mb/d, but again this new model could be wrong as the old one.

Jean 2

My modeling was based on the Montana oil peaks, which fit well with the number of rigs shifted by 12 months since 2000.

Jean 3

But in Montana the rig number peak was 25 when it was over 200 in ND where also a very large number of wells (>500) are waiting for hydraulic fracturation.
The productivity of the Bakken for Montana & North Dakota since the 1950s varies with time from 10 to 180 b/d/well in ND and from 20 to 180 b/d/well in Montana.

Jean 4

Montana oil production is declining as the number of rigs and it is a good model for ND.
Montana oil production Hubbert linearization is far from being linear, but an ultimate about 2200 Mb looks a fair estimate (present cumulative is 1830 Mb).

Jean 5

Future oil production is declining from the third peak on 2013 (previous peaks being 1968 & 2006)

Jean 6

Montana oil production is compared to the number of oil completions: the lag is about one year. But it is obvious that there is no global correlation on the level of production.
Montana has several plays since 1918 and for each play the correlation is different. The Bakken play since 2000 has only two fields with Elm Coulee (peak 2006) and Elm Coulee Northeast (peak 2013)

Jean 7

DMR.ND does not provide the number of completion as Montana, but the number of reported producing wells, without giving the breakdown of the increase by new wells and the decrease by abandoned wells.
At end 2013 over 13,600 producing wells were drilled and 9700 still producing of which 6000 were Bakken.

Jean 8

The number of rigs has peaked in 2012 at 200 from Baker and at 213 from DMR.ND.
DMR.ND reports the number of spuds, which does not peak as rigs. The growth of producers (smoothed by 5 years) does follow roughly the spuds but it is hard to use this chaotic measure..

Jean 9 It is surprising to see the number of spuds acting differently from the number of rigs after the rig peak of July 2012.
The plot number of spuds versus number of rigs behaves jointly from 1995 to 2012 and completely apart after. It is strange and indicates a change that I cannot explain.

Jean 10

It is known that a large number of wells waits to be fractured (>500 wells), so it is expected to find a discrepancy between spuds and production but not between spuds and rigs. Oil production fits well the number of spuds when shifted by one year (better than with the number of rigs), except for the few months for an unknown reason.
Oil production is constrained by the lack of oil pipes, most of oil is carried by trucks and rail.

Jean 11

It appears that it is hard to use drilling activity to predict production in the near future.
It is necessary to know exactly the number of fracturation, but I could not find any data on the web.

Flaring more than one third of the ND gas is an expense waste (it is less than 0.8 % for all US) and a shame to burn 12 Gcf per month worth about 0.6 G$ per year. Gas pipes are not built because no one can guarantee 20 years volume (same for oil). Recent rules by the government to diminish flaring (some land owners also request to get royalties paid on flared volume) should constrained oil production.

Jean 12

Gas is flared in ND because its price is too low compared to oil price.


The US price (in Mbtu) ratio oil/gas was about 6 in the 1950s and went slowly down to 1 around 2003, bit it went sharply up to over 5 in 2012 and down to 4 in July 2014.
In AEO2014 EIA forecasts an oil/gas ratio of 3.4 in 2018 and 3.2 in 2040.

Jean 13

But EIA forecasts a very large range of NG prices in 2040 from 4,5 to 10,5 $/MBtu.

Jean 14

EIA was not very good in forecasting oil price in the past from AEO 1979 to AEO 2014

Jean 15

EIA was also quite wrong on forecasting natural price from 1982 to 2014, in particular in 1982 and in 2009.

Jean 16

A detailed comparison between AEO NG wellhead price forecasts and actual prices was given in AEO 2011, showing that in 2008 wellhead price was 8 $/kcf when it was forecasted around 3 $/kcf by AEO 1997 to AEO 2001.

Jean 17

It is not normal to get such ratio oil/NG price: it leads to wasting gas and upsetting all world economy on coal, fertilizer plants etc. The US cost in $/Mbtu of fossil fuels at electric generating plants (EIA table 9.9) displays that oil and NG follows the same behavior from 1973 to 2008 and beyond a complete different one.

Jean 18

I always refuse to forecast oil & gas price because they behave too irrational and the above graphs comfort my belief.

It appears that it is very hard to forecast future Bakken production in ND using the past drilling activity, contrary with Montana, mainly because the large number of wells waiting to be fractured. The main question is to know if it is due to logistic constraints or poor economic.

Using past ND production is the best hope to estimate ultimates. ND production excluding Bakken could be extrapolated towards 2200 or 2500 Mb.

Jean 19

Modeling with 2200 Mb displays a future decline of about 4%/a.

Jean 20

But the Hubbert linearization for ND Bakken only can be extrapolated within a range of ultimates between 2500 Mb and 4000 Mb.

Jean 21

ND oil ultimates varying between 4.7 and 6.2 Gb give the following future production with peak in 2015 and 2016.

Jean 22

The last peak of ND Bakken productivity per well was at 145 b/d/w in 2010 (but 274 b/d/w in 1954) when down to 126 b/d/w in June 2014.

Jean 23

It seems that most oil companies are spending more than their revenues by increasing their debts. Countries can live for a long time with huge debt increase, not companies. They count on the stock market by delivering optimistic reports and keep drilling to avoid the production to decline. With shale oil or shale play, in contrary with conventional where wells are dry or producing, oil can be produced even for a while if not economical.
Such behavior explains why most peak forecasts are wrong. But the main question is about the slope of the decline after the peak. EIA forecast a LTO (light tight oil = shale oil) peak in 2017 it is not too far after my forecast, the big difference is the slow EIA LTO decline.

Jean 24

My forecast on USL48 is based on ultimates estimated from different ways, with the breakdown of Texas, North Dakota and deepwater.


Jean 25


EIA forecasts the US crude oil production at over 7 Mb/d in 2040 when I forecast USL48 crude oil production at less than 1 Mb/d. The difference is huge!
EIA forecasts 140 $2012/b in 2040, allowing expensive oil to be produced when my forecasts on price is not numbered but I feel (MIT April paper) that in the past production was constrained by a ceiling at 120 $2011/b: expensive oil will stay in the ground.

Jean 26

I may be too pessimistic on the value of the US oil peak, but I am convinced that EIA is too optimistic on the LTO decline.
In my April MIT paper I was trying to show that oil data is full of cycles and almost all are
symmetrical like the number of US wells (or the past Bakken production in ND or Montana).

Jean 27

US wells did boom and did burst with the same slope in 1936, 1956, 1981 and 2008 for different reasons. In 1981 it was due to the oil shock, but not in 1956.

Jean 28

Future is likely to behave like in the past, which is displaying almost symmetrical cycles.

I feel that we will know the answer on LTO production around 2020 and I hope to see it.

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318 Responses to Bakken Oil Peak by Jean Laherrère

  1. Joe Clarkson says:

    I think the shift in rig to spud ratio was due to the introduction of walking rigs, which reduced the downtime between spuds.

  2. Old farmer mac says:

    My understanding is that although we hear a lot about the potential of light tight oil there are very few places as yet where enough exploratory wells have been drilled to know if it is there in adequate quantity to be extracted economically on a world wide basis.

    Perhaps some of the pros or other regular readers know of some proven up tight oil fields in other countries that I haven’t heard about other than the Siberian fields.

    It is my impression that the resource is there in Siberia without a doubt but that the cost of getting tight oil out of the ground and to market in Siberia is prohibitive at least for the easily foreseeable future.

    • Mike says:

      Siberia in winter is the coldest place on earth (at least outside Antarctica). You hear anecdotal evidence of urine turning to ice before it hits the ground after it has left the body. Water, great quantities of water, are used in fracking – the “hydraulic” in hydraulic fracturing, after all, effectively means “water based”. So, yes, Mac, it would seem you’re right about the cost of getting oil out of the ground in Siberia, when for up to half the year all the hydraulisists would have to pump down underground is lumps of ice, and workers’ hands are getting frozen to the metal machinery, and diesel engines won’t start, and access roads are icebound and……….and……and…….etc.

      • Old farmer mac says:

        I guess it is going to be hard to do but maybe not impossible. Frozen roads are actually a big plus up that way. Ya just run a motor grader over them occasionally to keep them smooth enough to drive on. The summer mud is much the bigger problem.Even log skidders have a hard time moving once things thaw out for the summer.I will post a link to some Russian mud troubles in a minute in a follow up comment.

        I don’t know about the fracking water supply. It might be that they can pump it from wells located in the oil field and store it in insulated tanks. Keeping it from freezing in very large tanks or even in ordinary tanker trucks would burn up a good deal of natural gas but if the gas is going to be flared any way???

        The old soviets built at least one railroad all the way across Siberia. It can be done and if there is ENOUGH oil up there it will probably be extracted but maybe not for a long time. A hundred fifty or two hundred bucks a barrel might be enough to pay the bills and leave a little over.

  3. CaveBio says:

    The technological developments being reported over the past few years to develop inexpensive catalysts for the splitting of water are quite remarkable.


    • Dave P says:

      You still need an energy source to split water into hydrogen + oxygen. A catalyst can only reduce the activation energy required.

      • Old farmer mac says:

        ”You still need an energy source to split water into hydrogen + oxygen. A catalyst can only reduce the activation energy required.”

        Dead on but if a reasonably efficient and scalable process for the electrolysis of water can be discovered it probably can be powered by renewable energy at some not too distant future time. Hydrogen is easily transported by pipeline although leakage is a problem. Spills will never be a problem with a hydrogen pipeline though.

        Wind and solar farms and the electrolysis facility can be located where the wind and sun resource is best and the free hydrogen piped economically to where it is needed. If fuel cells ever get to be cheap enough this could be a big winner for the inventors and for society overall.

        There is also a big market for pure oxygen and it will not go to waste. It has many uses and if cheap enough could even be used to make ice engines and biofuel and gas and coal boilers run more efficiently.Heating up all that nitrogen and water vapor in combustion air just to see the most of that heat escape thru the exhaust is a big waste. A fire burning with pure oxygen gets a LOT hotter and the heat exchange process will thus work much better.

  4. SRSrocco says:


    Excellent charts and update on the Bakken. You now believe Peak oil occur in 2015. However, you also say that you might be wrong. Given the amount of debt loading up on these companies balance sheets, I don’t believe your 2015 Peak forecast can be pushed much further in the future.

    If the U.S. and world head into a rapid Deflationary Event, this should speed up the demise of the Shale Energy Industry.


  5. SRSrocco says:


    This is most certainly “off topic”, but it’s worth a look. I don’t watch CNBC at all because there isn’t much in the way of “Intelligent and unbiased Reporting.” This is indicative by the huge fall in viewership over the past several years.

    Anyhow, I believe you will find this short CNBC interview of a Former Mob Boss’s take on Wall Street and yes… the precious metals. He was ranked 8th out of 50 Mob Bosses during the 1980’s. Furthermore, 44 of the 50 are now dead and three are serving life sentences.

    You can see his interview at the link below:


    • Old farmer mac says:

      I checked out this link and found this one which I think is relevant to anybody who must participate in the general economy- and that is all of us.

      I just can’t bring myself to believe in a general deflation of essential goods and services prices which are paid for in what I refer to for lack of better words” real time” although this term usually means something entirely different. Housing and stock prices can go crazy due to the fact that they are partly or mostly based on future expectations and long term credit.

      A gallon of gasoline or a bushel of corn on the other hand has to be paid for on a ”thirty days net” basis all the way thru the production and distribution chain if not cash on the spot.

      I cannot sell apples or gasoline this week based on what people think they may sell for ten years from now. BUT neither can I sell my apples for less than it costs me to pay my current expenses for very long.My suppliers do not extend credit over the long haul. The fertilizer guy and the insecticide dealer and the tractor dealer all want their money immediately if not sooner..

      Governments are going to make sure plenty of cash is always available. The problem is that they cannot make sure working people are going to have enough of that cash to survive.

      There is no way in hell I would ever pay a couple of hundred bucks to watch a ball game. I would go to watch it if somebody paid ME the two hundred to show up. Two hundred bucks will buy five to ten excellent books on archival quality paper or the complete works of a famous classical composer on top quality discs. These things will last more or less forever if well cared for and bring pleasure and enlightenment over and over to as many people as desire to make use of them.

      There are not enough people who are rich in the usual sense of the word to fill up baseball stadiums in any given town. Pro sports as they exist today are going to be a thing of the past pretty soon.

  6. Ilambiquated says:

    What is the mechanism behind the symmetrical behavior?

    If the future is likely to behave like the past, won’t oil production continue to go up forever?

    • KLR says:

      If you are referring to the cycles in wells drilled, US producers were given incentives to drill in the 50s, thus the spike in their number despite perennially flat prices. Yergin pointed this out in The Prize and states that US production likely would’ve peaked without this bit of government intervention. I forget the reasoning – probably Cold War related.

  7. If a perception of continuing tight oil “abundance” brings oil prices further down that would be well below the fiscal break even point even for Saudi Arabia. See Fig 6 in the following document.

    “On the one hand, equity, which is a dominant feature of the upstream and midstream industry, is sourced internally either through retained earnings or state budget allocations. Therefore, its funding depends on the extent oil market price is sustainably above the fiscal break-even price, which we have established to
    be $105/bbl for OPEC as a group. As shown in the fiscal cost curve in Figure 6, this output-weighted average masks heterogeneity among key MENA members. The higher their fiscal cost, the less
    funds will be available for equity financing. Therefore, while we should not be particularly worried about Qatar, Kuwait, and to some extent the UAE, we should definitely be concerned about Saudi Arabia; and even more concerned, in ascending order along the fiscal cost curve, about Libya, Iraq, Algeria and Iran.”

    • Anonymous says:


      I wasn’t able to view your linked paper to confirm, but “fiscal break even” must include general governmental costs not related to the production of oil. If so, NOCs can always divert capital from government non-oil subsidies to “equity financing” if necessary. Don’t they also have sovereign wealth fund assets abroad that they can liquidate?

      • Ilambiquated says:

        Economists sometimes talk about “The curse of oil” or “the Dutch disease”. Easy revenues from oil or other natural resources make governments lazy and incompetent because they can buy off their opponents instead of adopting sensible policies.

        Thanks to decades of bad public policy the even the Persian Gulf countries, with their vast mineral wealth, are running out of money and becoming unattractive to invest in.

    • Right now they are getting $99.03 per barrel.

      OPEC Basket Price

    • Watcher says:

      Wait a minute. Fiscal break even?

      You can cut govt spending to lower that. You can ramp up oil taxes on producing entities (for Saudi Aramco, that would be pay cuts).

      You are not dependent on oil price.

      As is true of all this stuff, if the numbers aren’t comfy, change them by govt order.

      • Ilambiquated says:

        Simply raising the price of energy would do it pretty well for most of these places. Gas costs less than a dollar a gallon in Kuwait. All those glitzy skyscrapers they are building along the cost of the Persian Gulf would be completely uninhabitable if they weren’t burning diesel fuel to generate electricity and giving it away.

        The architects of the Masdar project claim the street temperature in Masdar is 20C (36F) lower than in downtown Abu Dhabi. Water is more or less free, and it is desalinated using diesel fuel, or pumped from groundwater. The artificial islands off the coast depend on constant dredging to stay above water.

        Waste is built into the system, and it is constraining their ability to invest in drilling. If cheap oil does run out, these cities will simply disappear into the desert.

        They have the bright idea of investing in solar or nuclear, but nothing much has come of it — except in Iran. It would seem more rational to raise the price of energy, but that would cost the government one of its main instruments of control. If they raise the price of energy, they might be forced to adopt other sensible public policies to appease the masses.

        • Old farmer mac says:

          You have nailed it nicely.

          Political stability in the sand country petrostates depends on the welfare state providing a decent standard of living for the huge and generally fast growing mass of people there.

          In the long run the oil IS going to run out and the people who are not smart enough and rich enough to leave early are going to be trapped in hell on earth.

          No country is going to welcome millions of refugees after peak oil and other peak resources start biting really hard on the collective backside of the world economy.

          It might be possible for the petrostates to finance enough nukes and solar power installations NOW to provide their electrical energy needs for the next couple of generations but they apparently don’t have the political will needed to divert the necessary money to nukes and solar farms.

          And let us not forget that despite the chattering coming from agricultural technocopians and others of that ilk, nobody is ever going to raise much food in a hot dry desert except with enormous amounts of irrigation water. Without oil or nukes or renewables farms on an incredibly vast scale the water is not going to be there for irrigation.

          They will be out of fossil water for all intents and purposes except maybe enough for drinking during the life time of their younger people.

          • Ilambiquated says:

            There is a way to do agriculture in the desert, if the crop is valuable enough. You build a white tent to protect the crop from wind and sun and drip feed it. The Spanish do this in a big way just west of Almeria on the South coast.

            The Saudis, on the other hand, subsidize wheat (which isn’t worth much) and give away fossil water. The result is wasteful central pivot irrigation, for example Southeast of Riyadh. I recommend checking out both areas with Google satellite images.

            • Old farmer mac says:

              I believe they gave up on irrigated wheat some time back but they are to the best of my knowledge still importing feed for dairy cows instead of milk which would be far more economical.

              High dollar produce can be grown under shade with irrigation for sure but you can’t live on cantaloupes and tomatoes.Produce is good for you but you will starve without staples such as wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, meat, dairy etc.

              Greenhouse and drip irrigated crops just don’t cut it in terms of calories fats and proteins.

              I would slowly starve to death eating my own apples in terms of both calories and basic nutrients. Might take a few months.

  8. Looking at Jean’s graphs and comments, I can find nothing to disagree with. I have worked out my own estimate for the peak of the Bakken and Eagle Ford based on several factors but mostly the legacy decline rate and new wells required. I have the Bakken peaking sometime in the last quarter of 2014 and Eagle Ford peaking at pretty close to the same time.

    • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

      Do you guys have some numbers for the estimated gross decline in existing Bakken and Eagle Ford oil production from 2013 to 2014, i.e., by what percentage would existing production fall from 2013 to 2014 if no new oil wells were completed in these plays in 2014?

      As I have previously noted, Citi Research puts the overall US decline rate from existing US gas production at about 24%/year. As an example of why this is probably a reasonable estimate, the net percentage decline in Louisiana’s marketed natural gas production from 2012 to 2013 was 20% (note that this was net, i.e., production fell by 20%, even after new wells were added). The Louisiana decline was presumably primarily due to a decline in drilling in Haynesville Shale Play.

      • The EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report has the average decline rate for 2014 at 6.46% per month for the Bakken and 8.02% per month for Eagle Ford.

        • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

          At these monthly decline rates, it would appear that production from 2013 vintage wells would decline as follows in 2014:

          Bakken: A simple percentage decline of 55%.

          Eagle Ford: A simple percentage decline of 63%.

          Of course, the decline rate from 2013 vintage wells would presumably slow in 2015, but the 2014 wells would presumably show, from 2014 to 2015, a decline similar to 2013 vintage wells from the 2013 to 2014.

          • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

            One clarification, presumably the EIA is talking about all existing wells in regard to monthly legacy decline rates, so the estimated annual decline rates would presumably be for all wells completed in the Bakken and Eagle Ford Plays in 2013 and in earlier years.

          • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

            In any case, these numbers imply that we need around a million barrels per day per year (or more) of new C+C production, just to offset the declines from existing Bakken + Eagle Ford wells, which in turn implies that my guesstimate of a 10%/year gross decline rate from existing US C+C production is way too low.

            Or I am missing something? Any comments?

            • Watcher says:

              65ish% of Bakken production is from wells less than 18 months old.

              That’s 670ishK bpd. So you could be right and that is what is happening.

            • Doug Leighton says:

              No, you’re not missing anything. But, it continues to amaze me how so many fail to follow (your) basic logic – and accept the obvious conclusion(s).

              • SRSrocco says:

                Jeff & Doug,

                I have this CLOWN on my site leaving comments that Peak Oil is hogwash. He states that he is an oil geologist and has spent thousands of hours with energy companies doing countless expeditions.

                He states that the big oil companies can easily turn on the spigot and we could double production in no time. I replied with a few of Steve Kopits graphs on the big forecasted decline in CAPEX spending, but he says this is due to the fact that they have all these projects ready to come online to pump out oil.

                I have to tell you, either he is what we call as a TROLL, or unbelievable stupid.

                This US OIL INDEPENDENCE charade can continue for a few more years.. but at some point, declining production can’t be kept hidden. World financial and economic events will get quite interesting when this occurs.


              • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

                It looks like the Bakken is around 1.0 mbpd and that the Eagle Ford is around 1.5 mbpd (C+C).

                Based on the foregoing estimates (and assuming that current production might be indicative of average 2014 production), looking forward to 2015 existing Bakken wells in 2014 would decline by about 0.55 mbpd from 2014 to 2015 and existing wells in the Eagle Ford would decline by about 0.95 from 2014 to 2015, for a combined estimated Bakken + Eagle Ford volumetric decline of about 1.5 mbpd from 2014 to 2015 (from existing wells in 2014).

                Assuming an annual US C+C production rate of about 8.4 mbpd for 2014, the foregoing implies that just the decline from existing Bakken & Eagle Ford wells in 2014 would account for about an 18% decline in production from existing US oil wells from 2014 to 2015. If we assume that the other wells are declining at least 7%/year, in round numbers it would suggest that we would lose about 2.0 mbpd of production from existing wells, going from 2014 to 2015, a simple percentage decline rate of about 24%/year, which interestingly enough is what Citi Research estimates is the decline rate from existing US gas production.

                In turn, this would imply that in order to maintain 8.4 mbpd of US C+C production for 10 years, we would need about 20 mbpd of new production. We basically would need to put on line the productive equivalent of the peak production from the North Slope of Alaska, every year, for 10 years, in order to maintain current US C+C production for 10 years.

                • Doug Leighton says:

                  And Prudhoe Bay, with its satellites, is (was) the largest oil and gas field in North America. So, we simply add one of these per year for ten years then everything will be just hunky-dory — in so far as maintaining the status quo: Seems pretty straight forward.

                • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

                  Or based on the foregoing, extrapolated from EIA estimates for Bakken + Eagle Ford oil production decline rates, and based on the Citi Research report for gas, one could say that the industry would have to replace 100% of current US oil and gas production in about four years, just to maintain current levels of production for four years.

                  • Doug Leighton says:

                    That might be a little difficult; perhaps we’d best return to Fantasy Island.

                  • Dave Ranning says:

                    I think we just need to throw enough money on the ground, and the “Invisible Fist” will produce a gushing of oil, as demand will fill the the supply issue.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Jeff,

              The legacy decline estimates are too high by a factor of 2 for 2014 and legacy decline rates tend to fall over time, so assuming they remain constant will lead to spurious results.

              For the Bakken legacy decline will be about 256 kb/d for 2014 (for wells completed by Dec 2013) and for the Eagle Ford (assuming 35% legacy decline and average output of 1000 kb/d in 2013) legacy decline is about 350 kb/d for a total of 600 kb/d.

              If we assume the rest of US output declines at 10% per year (excluding Bakken and Eagle Ford) we would get a legacy decline rate of 16% for all US output. About 1.1 Mb/d needs to be added to keep output level. At some point output will decline, in the mean time new wells continue to be completed and output keeps increasing which increases the amount of new wells needed to remain even, US decline will begin by 2017 to 2019 and it may be quite rapid, it depends somewhat on the success of deep water efforts in the GOM.

              A lot also depends on oil prices, how quickly they rise as decline begins and on the response of the economy to higher prices. The rate of decline in output, the rate of rise in prices, and the rate that oil efficiency ($ GDP/barrel of oil) improves will all be crucial to how the economic system will respond.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Jeff,

            The EIA estimates for legacy decline are not very good.

            A better estimate for the Bakken is about a 32% legacy decline the first year (If no more wells were drilled starting in Jan 2014) and this rate gradually falls to 12 % after 6 years (32%, 27%, 21%, 17%, 14%, 12% decline rates for years 1 to 6). The Decline rate falls to 8% after 10 years.

            Also your presumption that the decline rates will remain similar for 2014 (compared to 2013) is false.
            Over time there are a greater number of older wells with lower decline rates so these decline rates will tend to fall as more wells are drilled.

            To test this I assumed 170 wells were completed for each month From Jan 2014 until Dec 2018 and that no more new wells were completed starting in Jan 2019 (as compared with Jan 2014 in the previous case.)

            Decline rates are 26%, 21%, 16%, 14%, 12%, and 10% for years 1 to 6, lower than before. Legacy decline rates will fall as more wells are completed.

            • A better estimate for the Bakken is about a 32% legacy decline the first year…

              I would love to know how you arrived at that number. The EIA has the Bakken declining at 6.46% per month. Starting with 1000 barrels and using that decline rate you wind up with, after 12 months, 446.4 barrels. That is a decline rate of 55.3%.

              And that is their decline rate overall, not just the the new wells first year of production.

              Why do you have such trouble believing the EIA’s decline rate numbers? And how did you arrive at your numbers?

              • Enno says:

                Ron, you assume that the 6.46% decline rate holds for 12 months, which is not true. Have a look at the “contribution from past wells” graph I regularly post. E.g. look at what all wells up to 2012 did, and how much they contributed by the end of 2013. Dennis is correct. The decline in the current month is always high due to the high decline rate of recently completed wells. Without the impact of those new wells, only looking at the 1 year decline of legacy wells, the overall 1 year the decline rate is much lower, I also estimate just over 30%, from just looking at the graph.

                • Enno, I am not assuming anything, I am just repeating what the EIA says in their Drilling Productivity Report. The 6.46% decliner rate they post is not for the first month or even the first year. It is the decline rate of the entire Bakken, all wells.

                  There can be no doubt about what the EIA is saying in that report. The only question is, are their figures correct? If not then why not? One doesn’t have to assume anything. It is perfectly clear what the EIA is saying.

                  I assume they take the increase production for the previous month, subtract that from total new well production for that month to arrive at the total decline from all older wells.

                  Perhaps not, but why would they lie on the pessimistic side. They are often wrong but are almost always wrong on the optimistic side.

                  • Jeffrey J. Brown says:


                    Do you know if Jean Laherrère has expressed an opinion about the EIA’s estimates for legacy decline rates?

                  • I don’t think he has ever expressed an opinion but I will post him and ask?

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Hi Ron,

                    I have a model based on NDIC data and use that to model the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks, the EIA models the entire US Bakken/Three Forks and I imagine they do the best they can to model the output for months that they have no actual output data.

                    Jeff initially asked for the legacy decline for all completed wells at the end of 2013, that is what I modelled.

                    You took the legacy decline rate from August 2014 estimated by the EIA and assumed that if no new wells were drilled that this monthly rate would remain fixed over time, the monthly legacy decline rate will decrease from 6% to some lower value over time, I used my model to estimate how much this decrease will be so that I could find the annual rate of decline, it is 30% (roughly) rather than 55%.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I think that Ron is correct, the EIA seems to be talking about the legacy decline rate from all current and all previously completed wells, and as noted on an annualized basis, their estimates work out to about 55% Bakken legacy decline from 2014 to 2015, for wells completed in 2014 and in prior years, and about a 63% Eagle Ford legacy decline from 2014 to 2015, for wells completed in 2014 and in prior years.

            • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

              I assume that while you disagree with the EIA estimates for the legacy decline rates, you agree that the annual simple percentage decline rates–based on EIA data–would be about 55% for 2014 Bakken production and about 63% for 2014 Eagle Ford production?

              In regard the following ” . . . and this rate gradually falls to 12 % after 6 years (32%, 27%, 21%, 17%, 14%, 12% decline rates for years 1 to 6). The Decline rate falls to 8% after 10 years,” it’s very impressive precision, and I wish my crystal ball was as accurate as yours appears to be. And of course, one has to consider the impact of wells that shut-in and ultimately plugged an abandoned, after just a few years.

              In any case, the bottom line is that a very high percentage of current production at any point in time in these plays comes and will come from (very rapidly declining) wells put on line in the two years preceding said point in time.

            • This well, typical of the chart published by North Dakota DMR, only declines at 53% the first year but declines a whopping 65% the second year.

              Bakken to Top 1 Million Barrels per day?

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Ron,

                That decline curve is not a very good estimate of the actual average decline curve, see chart below. Also note that the 1st year average well output is 260 b/d, the 2nd year is 129 b/d and the third year is 86 b/d. The annual decline rates are: 1st year 50%, and 2nd year 33%. When the decline rate is from many wells of different ages (some are not newly drilled wells) the rates will be lower.

            • Hey, there is no doubt what the EIA folks are saying in the chart below. They believe production from new wells will be 94,000 barrels per day in September. They believe all the old wells will decline by 74,000 barrels per day leaving a net increase of 20,000 barrels per day.

              And incidentally 74,000 barrels per day turns out to be 6.63% of August production, or what they expect August production to be.

              • Watcher says:

                That diagram is the current EIA model.

                The typical well graphs we have all seen and I suspect they are at least a couple of years old. That was 10s of frack stages ago.

                We should take same well samples from online documentation and compute our own decline numbers for wells 4 months old in EOG areas. I’ll bet those open choke guys have serious declines.

                We, doesn’t mean me.

              • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

                If we look at all Bakken wells producing on 1/1/14, it’s reasonable that the decline rate from this group of wells would probably tend to decline somewhat, month by month, from January to December.

                However, if we look at total production, more new (highest decline rate) wells are always being added. So, perhaps the best representation of the annual decline rate from legacy wells might be the estimated values at mid-year. But that suggests that my estimate of an annual volumetric decline of about 0.55 mbpd from the Bakken for 2014 is too low.

                Based on the estimated September legacy decline, the annual volumetric decline from the Bakken would be enormous, on the order of 0.9 mbpd per year.


                Do you have the EIA’s historical estimated legacy decline values? I was wondering how the estimates have changed from month to month.

                • Yes, chart below. The decline rate is in percent per month.

                  Also Jean replied to your question. I have posted his reply at the bottom of the page.

                  • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

                    Eyeballing the chart, and using summer values (except as noted) as being indicative of annual average decline rates, the implied (EIA) estimated Bakken legacy decline rates on an annual basis would approximately be as follows:

                    2007: 30%
                    2008: 48%
                    2009: 54%
                    2010: 59%
                    2011: 70%*
                    2012: 66%
                    2013: 76%
                    2014: 80%

                    *Lower value used, due to short term spike in the mid-2011 estimate

                    In any case, it’s curious that the EIA seems to think that we are seeing a general increase in the decline rate from existing Bakken production.

                  • Jeffery, you appear to be multiplying the monthly decline rate by 12 to get the annual decline rate. You cannot do that because each month you would be measuring the already declined amount. If you began with 1000 barrels and each month that amount declined by 6.5 percent it would go like this:

                    1,000  After
                    935     1 month
                    874     2 months
                    817     3 months
                    764     4 months
                    715     5 months
                    668    6 months
                    625    7 months
                    584    8 months
                    546    9 months
                    511    10 months
                    477    11 months
                    446    12 months

                    As you can see a 6.5% monthly decline rate means a 55.4% annual deline rate.

                  • Jeffrey J. Brown says:


                    You are forgetting the impact from the declines from new wells. 55% would be correct for the wells producing in January. It would not be correct for the total decline rate for the entire year.

                  • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

                    Upon further reflection, the key question is which annual decline are we talking about–the decline in existing production from one year to the next, or the ongoing decline, within a given year?

                    Based on the EIA data, the decline in 2013 Bakken production from 2013 to 2014 would be about 55%, but this is still monthly data (January to December). The average decline in 2013 production, from 2013 to 2014, would be about 34%.

                    So, Dennis may have it right.

                    However, we are still left with the fact that the EIA seems to think that, at least through mid-2014, we are seeing a generally increasing legacy decline rate in the Bakken.

                  • Jeffrey J. Brown says:

                    I guess my final analysis on the Bakken/Eagle Ford annual legacy decline rates would be as follows:

                    If we look at average annual declines in existing production, from year to year, e.g., 2014 to 2015, the EIA is estimating that average 2014 Bakken production would decline by about 34% from 2014 to 2015, while average 2014 Eagle Ford production would decline by about 40% from 2014 to 2015.

                    These estimates imply that operators would need to replace, assuming no increase in legacy decline rates, 100% of average 2014 Bakken production from 2015 to 2017 inclusive (three years), in order to maintain 2014 production. Note that the EIA is showing, through mid-2014, generally increasing decline rates in existing production.

                    Eagle Ford operators would have to replace 100% of 2014 production in the 30 months from January, 2015 to June, 2017 inclusive, in order to maintain average 2014 production for 30 months.

                    Or, one could say that EIA estimates of the legacy decline rates suggest that the industry has to replace 100% of current Bakken + Eagle Ford production in three years or less, in order to maintain 2014 average production for three years.

                    For total US C+C production, assumptions are that average annual total US production is about 8.4 mbpd for 2014, and average annual production of 1.0 mbpd for Bakken and 1.5 mbpd for Eagle Ford.

                    Based on above decline rate estimates, we would lose about 0.9 mbpd from Bakken + Eagle Ford from 2014 to 2015 (projected decline in average 2014 production). I assume that balance of US production falls at 7%. This implies that average 2014 production would fall by 1.3 mbpd from 2014 to 2015, a simple percentage decline of about 15%. So, based on foregoing we would need to replace 100% of current US production in about seven years, in order to maintain current US C+C production for seven years.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Ron,

                The EIA legacy decline rates are a little too high.

                I take the average well profile based on the NDIC well data collected by Enno Peters (thank you Enno, that data is invaluable) and the number of well completions through Dec 2013 and then assume no more wells are added and see what the production will be for the months from Jan 2014 to Dec 2025.

                From that I can find the legacy decline for all completed wells as of Dec 2013 that are still producing. This is not based only on new wells. To find the annual decline rates we take the average output in 2014 (from the model) and divide by the average output in 2013 and subtract from 1 to get the annual decline rate.

                As Enno astutely points out, even if the legacy decline is 6% in August 2014 (which is also based on a model since we do not have that data yet), if no new wells were drilled from Sept 2014 onwards then this monthly decline rate will drop each month.

                I have created another Bakken Model which assumes in July 2014 that 200 wells are completed and data through June 2014 matches NDIC estimates for completed wells.

                Legacy decline rate in August is similar to the EIA monthly rate at 5.7%, but the rate drops as shown in the chart below (right axis), the maximum annual rate is 32% and this also drops over time if no new wells are added. In reality drilling is unlikely to stop abruptly, but will gradually decrease as the sweet spots become fully drilled and there are fewer good prospects for drilling. So the 32% rate of decline is a worst case scenario.

                Also as I showed earlier, as more wells are drilled the rate of legacy decline will fall in percentage terms. A future maximum annual decline rate in the Bakken of 20 to 25% is likely, but this high rate of decline will only last a few years.

                • Dennis Coyne says:

                  I realize that I may have misinterpreted Jeff’s question, he seems to want the legacy decline from month to month.

                  Using my Bakken Model (ERR=8.4 Gb), I found the monthly legacy decline from 2008 to 2020.

                  EUR decreases by 12% per year (this is not decline rate) with a gradual decrease starting in June 2015 and reaching the maximum annual rate of decrease 24 months later.

                  Decreased profitability due to falling new well EUR (EUR30=268 kb in Jan 2019 vs 375 kb in Jan 2014) leads to fewer new wells added decreasing from 170 new wells per month in Dec 2018 to 131 new wells per month in Jan 2020, EUR30 has fallen to 240 kb by Jan 2020.

                  Peak is in late 2017, monthly legacy decline % plotted on right axis. Chart below.

    • brian says:

      i don’t think the date of peak fracking is as important as when the disinvestment crash will happen and the environmental and economical mess that will be left in its wake.

      • Ken Barrows says:


        Right. Bakken would be producing nothing without finance. What most people don’t realize is that finance in the Bakken is absurd. Right now, though, it just looks magical.

  9. Dennis Coyne says:

    Hi Jean,

    The proved reserves in the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks were about 3.2 Gb at the end of 2012, based on EIA data and assuming that most reserves added in North Dakota since 2007 have been in the Bakken/Three Forks. Proved reserves are likely to be about 70% of proved plus probable(2P) reserves so for the North Dakota Bakken/ Three Forks 2 P reserves were about 4.6 Gb at the end of 2012 (if the 70% assumption is correct). About 0.6 Gb of cumulative Bakken/ Three Forks C+C had been produced by the end of 2012 so that we would expect at least 5.2 Gb of Bakken/ Three Forks C+C will ultimately be produced.

    This will be true even if no more Bakken/Three Forks reserves are added from technically recoverable resources after December 2012.

    By contrast the USGS estimates that North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks undiscovered technically recoverable resources(UTRR) have a 95 % likelihood of being more than 3.4 Gb.

    When we add the 5.2 Gb estimate 2P reserves plus cumulative production with the 3.4 Gb UTRR F95 estimate we get a conservative URR estimate of 8.6 Gb, before considering economics. Even with low oil prices (WTI at $80/barrel in 2013$) the URR is likely to be 7.5 GB for the North Dakota Bakken Three Forks. I expect the peak to be about 1.2 to 1.3 Mb/d between 2016 and 2019 for the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks, total completed wells will be about 25,000 wells.

    • Enno Peters says:

      I agree with your comments Dennis. I belief the peak will be preceded by falling well quality, or a sustained drop in the number of new wells. We don’t see that happening yet, although well quality seems to have leveled off (2014 wells produce very similar as 2013 wells). Unless there is a significant drop in oil prices, I would not expect a peak in the coming 1-1.5 year.

      A few remarks on the post by Jean Laherrère:
      – I doubt whether the average productivity per well is a useful metric in shale production. In these trends you basically continue to expect a falling productivity, and I don’t see what information you can glean from that. It doesn’t mean falling profitability, it can’t tell you when the trend is about to collapse. It just happens when you keep drilling new wells that have a rapid declining production profile, and produce for many years. Am I missing something?

      – “It is surprising to see the number of spuds acting differently from the number of rigs after the rig peak of July 2012.”
      Is this not something that simply has to do with the increasing use of pads, a location from which multiple wells are drilled?

      – “Recent rules by the government to diminish flaring (some land owners also request to get royalties paid on flared volume) should constrained oil production.”
      What I have read so far about the NDIC is that they seem rather business friendly, and that they always try to limit the impact of there regulations on the companies operating there. I therefore don’t expect that these rules will have any significant impact on oil production.

      -“It seems that most oil companies are spending more than their revenues by increasing their debts. ”

      While I agree that the shale companies seem overly optimistic about their prospects (especially EURs and size of the field), and that at least for some time these companies could continue to expand when new wells are no longer economical (because of 1) incentives to keep growing, 2) a too optimistic calculation of depreciation which is common), I belief that currently the average company in the Bakken is expected to make good money on these wells, if oil prices and costs keep being favorable, and therefore it’s not strange that they load up on cheap debt to increase leverage.
      This of course increases risk, especially if oil prices suddenly drop, but could also increases potential pay off. I think that their shareholders are quite happy to see that, while they are the ones who will feel it the most in their pocket if things go south.

      • Old farmer mac says:

        You don’t see much in the main stream press about depletion of conventional legacy oil fields when you are reading about tight oil but I can’t help believing that most of the serious investors in tight oil are not well aware of the depletion of legacy oil.

        It just makes sense that they not publicize these thoughts in the mainstream for fear of contributing to an economic slowdown because most investors large and small have money in more than one kind of industry.

        For what it is worth I can’t put any credence in predictions of a serious drop in oil prices barring a bad downturn in the world economy.

        And while I believe a lot of money has been wasted in such things as a Chinese housing bubble I do not believe that it has been wasted any more effectively building houses that are empty than if it had been spent here on oversized trucks used to fetch beer and plane tickets for vacations in Europe.We don’t talk about that sort of waste breaking economies.

        And as far as banks and banking are concerned, I do not believe banks and governments can print hard resources into existence.BUT they can print money to pay off past mistakes such as building too many houses as easily as they can to cover the mistake of buying too many cars and vacations.So long as physical resources exist in the form of land, minerals’ and energy and human capital exist, past bubbles in any area do not mean the end of business as usual but merely a general slowdown for some period of time.

        Oil prices are not going to fall very far in the face of constant depletion of legacy oil unless we have a very deep depression.I am myself more optimistic about advanced economies adapting thru efficiency measures and conservation than most peak oilers but such adaption takes a while and demand from developing countries is continuing to grow.

        I don’t see a deep recession headed our way in the near future.The long term is a different kettle of fish of course.

        • dolph9 says:

          To believe that we don’t face a deep recession, or merely a recession, one has to believe that the physical laws of nature, and the economic cycle, have been postponed, indefinitely and ultimately eternally, by central bank digital money creation.

          I am not of this view. I think they bought us time but the natural laws are about to reassert themselves, as they did in 2001 and 2008.

          We face:
          -Fed zero interest rates coming up on 6 years and QE 4-5 years?
          -high energy, food, commodity prices worldwide, and associated geopolitical conflicts in key areas
          -an aging population and a declining birth rate, as well as a decline in the number of young people being trained and filling skilled work
          -extremely high prices if not bubble valuations in almost any major asset class one chooses to look: stocks, bonds, housing, high end collectibles
          -many of the areas thought to contribute to a transition (renewable energy, electric cars, etc.) being much more costly than foreseen and unable to service associated debts

          Given the above picture, I think we face another leg down pretty soon, and a big one sometime near or at 2020. This is most definitely the near future.

          • Old farmer mac says:

            You may well be right. I tend to think of 2020 as medium term in a discussion of politics and oil prices and short term as the next year or two.

            The fecal matter IS going to hit the fan in spectacular fashion but maybe not for a few more years yet.

      • Ilambiquated says:

        Something I’ve wondered about.,. Why don’t they reinject that gas to increase pressure instead of flaring it off?

        • Ilambiquated, this is very tight source rock, not porous reservoir rock. In a conventional field, the injection wells are drilled on the periphery of the field so the injected water can sweep the oil toward the well bore. Gas injection works pretty much the same way.

          In tight oil source rock there can be no “sweep” because the source rock is not porous and no “sweeping” can take place. If they drilled an injection well they would have to hit one of the fractures. But that fracture, instead of sweeping the oil toward the well bore, would just channel the gas, or water, to the well instead of the oil.

          And of course they would have to drill a separate injection well for every frack stage. That would be highly impractical.
          How Does Gas Injection Work?

          • ManBearPig says:

            If a single well injects gas for a period of time to build a miscible zone near the wellbore, and then converts to production (“huff and puff”), it it possible that a larger volume of oil could be produced then by simple primary production. The injection would need to be above MMP, and I don’t know what that is for the Bakken, but injection above MMP could create a single phase fluid and make some of the initially immobile oil near wellbore mobile. See the below SPE paper on the concept:


            • The article is about CO2 injection and not about building pressure by re-injecting the gas produced by the well. And they simulated everything. From the article, bold mine:

              To simulate the presence of hydraulic fractures, the ULR core was surrounded by a high permeability glass beads and packed in a core holder. The high permeability media was then saturated with CO2 at constant pressure and temperature during the experiment. Production was monitored over this time period. The experiment was imaged using x-ray computed tomography to track saturation changes inside the core samples.
              The results of this investigation support CO2 as a promising EOR agent for oil shale reservoirs. Oil recovery was estimated to be between 20 to 50 % of OOIP.

              Petroleum News Bakken

              However, the Bakken petroleum system is noted for low primary recovery rates of 3- to 5 percent of the original oil in place; and, while the jury’s out on exactly how much additional oil can be extracted using secondary and tertiary techniques, the recovery rate in the Bakken likely will be substantially lower than in conventional reservoirs.

              Going from 3 to 5 percent to 20 to 50 percent is one giant step. I really don’t believe it. Also in a tight oil reservoir they can only recover oil by blasting fractures in the source rock. Therefore there could be no “miscible zone” near the well bore as in conventional wells.

              • ManBearPig says:

                You inject gas for one of two reasons: to build or keep stable the reservoir pressure or to attempt to create a phase change of the hydrocarbons in the reservoir. Both CO2 and the lighter hydrocarbon gasses can be used for the second option, but CO2 is the most efficient at it. The permeability and porosity constraints of a unconventional reservoir limit the ability of injection wells to sweep from one wellbore to another, but a miscible “zone” can still be created around individual wellbores where CO2 is injected above MMP. The atomic structure of CO2 and the light hydrocarbons is less complex than that of liquid hydrocarbons, and thus they are more mobile in limited porosity rocks. I’m not sure that I believe the increase in recovery that they state in the paper, but I have seen CO2 core floods where hydrocarbons were displaced in the porosity and permeability ranges of the unconventional plays.

                • In a fracked well with 30 fracked stages, you would not have a wellbore but 30 of them running horizontal for about two miles.

                  Try to picture in your mind what a “miscible zone” would look like if one injection well were drilled somewhere along one side of that lateral well. You would need at least one on the other side. But really you would need 30 on each side of the lateral wellbore. But if you had parallel wells you could get by with just 30 injection wells between each parallel lateral wellbore.

                  • ManBearPig says:

                    Drilling so may injection wells would be a problem, which is why you do “huff and puff” injection in unconventional wells. That is, you inject and produce out of the same well. The “huff” is continuous injection of CO2 for a certain HCPVI or time limit, and then you convert the well to production and “puff” oil for a certain amount of time. You then convert the well back to injection and repeat the process. This allows you to access all of the fractures of the wellbore without needing multiple injectors and helps deal with the limited porosity and permeability of the rock, since you are not trying to sweep CO2 across the reservoir but rather create a phase change near a single wellbore.

      • Watcher says:

        I’m going to ante up a guess about peak mechanism that is largely off the radar screens.

        The water cut is north of 9:1. The amount of production water that has to be disposed of is 9 times the amount of oil that is carried, and the contaminated water is carried by trucks, too. I will guess this is what clobbers them over time. They won’t be able to dispose of the water fast enough to keep operating.

        In this context, the argument about depletion rate gets impacted. If depletion rates are slower, there is more water to dispose of. If depletion rates are fast, less water to get rid of.

    • Doug Leighton says:


      “By contrast the USGS estimates that North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks undiscovered technically recoverable resources(UTRR) have a 95 % likelihood of being more than 3.4 Gb.”

      How can you possibly give ANY credence to this statement much less use 3-4 Gb in a projection of future production? In 35 years working in the oil patch you are the only person I’ve run into who seems to take TRR resources seriously. In fact, I’ve never met a Professional Engineer who would dare do this (and I’m presuming you are not a Petroleum Engineer). This is Fantasy Land stuff!

      • “By contrast the USGS estimates that North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks undiscovered technically recoverable resources(UTRR) have a 95 % likelihood of being more than 3.4 Gb.”

        The Bakken oil field was discovered in 1951. How much undiscovered oil do you really expect they will discover at this late date?

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Ron,

          The USGS considers oil that is not a part of reserves as “undiscovered”.
          There have been 3.7 Gb of proved reserves (including oil produced) added to North Dakota’s proved reserves from 2008 to 2012. Most of this would have been UTRR in 2007.

          Note that in 2008 the USGS estimated Bakken UTRR at 3.6 Gb, if this estimate (the mean estimate) was accurate then in 2013 the USGS Bakken estimate would have been zero because all of this UTRR from 2008 had been added to proved reserves by 2012, instead the new mean estimate was 3.7 Gb for Bakken only. Based on the 2008 Bakken assessment one would conclude that the USGS tends to underestimate LTO resources because that 2008 estimate was low by a factor of 2 (if we assume the more recent estimate is not too low).

          If we use an estimate of 2P reserves plus production of 5 Gb and add to the Bakken mean estimate from 2013 (3.7 Gb), the 2008 UTRR estimate was low by a factor of 2.4.

          On the undiscovered TRR, it is not that nobody knows about the resource, just that the resource has not been evaluated and it is not known if it is technically recoverable, if it is it would be a contingent resource and if upon further evaluation it is decided that the resource is economically recoverable then it would become an undeveloped reserve (either proved, probable or possible depending upon how likely it is that the reserve will be produced in the future).

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Doug,

        Ok, is it reasonable to assume then that UTRR will be zero?

        Let’s do that then because we are not doing an engineering analysis or trying to book proved reserves.

        North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks proved reserves were approximately 3.2 Gb at the end of 2012 and cumulative ND Bakken production was 0.6 Gb for a total of 3.8 Gb.

        As I am sure you know, a better estimate of future production is based on proved plus probable reserves which I would estimate at 4.6 Gb for the ND Bakken/Three forks. The minimum URR we would expect is 5.2 Gb if possible reserves and UTRR are both equal to zero.

        In my mind the assumption that there will be no future additions to North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks reserves seems unreasonable. The USGS estimate that there is a 95% likelihood that more than 3 Gb will be added to reserves seems much more reasonable by contrast. I assume you are aware that 3.2 Gb have been added to North Dakota proved reserves from 2008 to 2012. Fantasy land would assume there will be no more additions to reserves in the future.

        In your view what amount of reserves would seem reasonable for future reserve additions?

        • Doug Leighton says:


          In my view, future reserve additions (or subtractions) will primarily depend on oil prices. You seem to think Bakken production, in general, is viable with $70 oil, or thereabouts. Others have suggested lower or $80, $90, $100, etc. I’ve no idea. In my very limited experience (none with LTO) price is the big determinate with a rather long list of secondary issues. It seems as if half of the prognosticators expect higher prices, in the near term, the other half, the opposite: Which makes me highly skeptical of ANY future projections.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Doug,

            Fair enough. I agree that reserves depend upon prices. What is your expectation of future oil prices? I expect that they will rise at roughly 1% (in real terms) over the next 10 years (this would be the general trend and the actual price will fluctuate above and below this trend line.) It is possible they could rise faster than this, but I believe if they did that an economic recession would result.

            Clearly you think that Bakken reserves will not increase by 3 to 4 Gb, is this because you expect oil prices to fall? Most of my estimates are based on flat prices to mid 2015 with prices gradually rising to about $134/barrel in 2013$ by 2040. I have also tried scenarios with oil prices gradually falling to $77/barrel by Jan 2017 and then remaining at that level until 2040, this is my most pessimistic scenario and starts with a TRR of 7.5 Gb and with the low prices the ERR is 6 Gb, so if the 5 Gb 2P plus cumulative output estimate is correct only 1 Gb is added to 2P reserves after Dec 2012 in this scenario, this is the minimum outputI would expect from the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks.

            I doubt that oil prices will fall that low and remain there over the long term. The most realistic oil price forecast is either flat or gradually rising real oil prices in my opinion.

            • Doug Leighton says:


              I don’t have the faintest idea where oil prices will go. But, if they follow your one percent per decade (in real terms) expectation, that might be more-or-less ideal in terms of social and economic stability. Producers and consumers would both be unhappy with this of course but: ‘Twas ever thus.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Doug,

                I was not very clear. What I meant to say was a 1% per year rise in prices for 10 years, which would add up to a 10.4% rise in the real oil price over 10 years, this is roughly in line with the AEO Reference case if real prices remain at $100/b until mid 2015, by 2025 real oil prices would only be $110/barrel. This forecast is likely too low because the peak will arrive in the 2018 time frame (possibly as late as 2020 for all energy liquids), when the peak arrives real oil prices will rise as fast as the economy will allow (possibly 2 to 3% per year), but the faster real oil prices rise the greater the risk of recession.

                It is at this point that your suspicions about long term forecasts is quite correct, we don’t know what will happen. My scenarios envision that we somehow muddle through with prices rising enough to keep the oil flowing, but not so much that the economy crashes severely, I absolutely agree that such an assumption is questionable.

                I have tried some scenarios where we muddle through for 5 years or so with a low rate of decline and then the depression ensues and the extraction rate from producing reserves is reduced due to lack of demand.

                That scenario is more realistic, though whether the delay would be 1 year or 5 years is unknowable.

  10. Wes453 says:

    This isn’t necessarily related to the content of this post, but I have been having fun using Google Earth to create various maps of the GIS well data provided by the NDIC. A map I thought might be of interest here is one that shows the locations of all wells drilled in North Dakota within the past year or so as well as the locations of all wells currently permitted to be drilled within the state. If interested in viewing this, go to to download a KMZ file that can be loaded directly into Google Earth. Green dots indicate wells drilled within in the last year while white dots indicate wells that have been permitted to be drilled.

    One interesting note is that most of the satellite imagery of western North Dakota was updated last August. Thus one can easily see that most wells drilled in the past year were drilled on completely new pads versus preexisting pads with at least one productive well.

    • Enno Peters says:

      Very nice work Wes. I planned on trying to do something like this, but you beat me to it.
      It fits very well with the 2012 picture of the animated gif in my previous post, showing that most of the wells from the past year were drilled in the sweet spots.

      I still plan to do something with the formation information you provided last time. I’m especially curious to see the difference between Three Forks vs Middle Bakken well profiles.

    • Watcher says:

      I’m seeing white dots clustered around that lake. Dunn and Mountrail, and mostly near the lake.


      • Watcher says:

        Also, dunno who or where the quote of square miles of sweetspot was quoted, but if it was the sum of those counties, it’s wrong.

        Only portions of those counties are heavily drilled.

        • Watcher says:

          Oh and for those trying to figure out how to do this, download google earth. Once you’re installed, just double click Wes’ .kmz file, it all is automatic.

  11. Coolreit says:

    Jean confirmed that EIA data is suspect is his excellent post:

    Laherrere: ” recent EIA data are overestimated, extrapolating past data”…”EIA forecasts the US crude oil production at over 7 Mb/d in 2040 when I forecast USL48 crude oil production at less than 1 Mb/d. The difference is huge!”…”I am convinced that EIA is too optimistic on the LTO decline.”

    I noted the same observation earlier that EIA data was suspect:

    Coolreit says:
    JULY 8, 2014 AT 4:48 PM
    Thanks Ron for continued great work!

    I doubt the US oil production #’s are correct. There are plenty of red flags on the EIA data vs. RRC/Texas production EIA vs. GOM #’s and most recently EIA OPEC vs. OPEC’s own #’s!

  12. Anon says:

    Libya won’t be back anytime soon. Islamists took over the Tripoli Airport (after it was destroyed in fighting) and have declared themselves the government. A couple other governments disagree, not counting random militia and tribes.

    • Watcher says:

      If you can manufacture some Americans to protect, you can bomb them, too. Like the dam in Mosul. Think of all the Americans at risk of that dam.

    • Watcher says:

      Just read a broader story. These guys are “Islamists” and there’s a good chance that means “ISIS aligned”. They had the funding to win, after all.

      That would mean the US will have to sanction these guys. Even if the oil is ready to flow, no one is allowed to buy it. hahahah

      • Dave Ranning says:

        If you are in Syria, you are a Freedom Fighter.
        If you are in Iraq, you are a terrorist.

        • Watcher says:

          There is no decided upon narrative yet for Libyan “Islamists”. I’m sure the Administration would like them to be called moderates, and they’ll probably even overlook and hush up a few beheadings. But if it gets too loud, they’ll have to impose sanctions.

          Italy will go nuts.

    • Ilambiquated says:

      I guess it depends on what the Benghazis do. The current fight is between the Misratis and the militias from the Western hills near Tunisia, but most of the oil comes from East of Sirte.

      • Watcher says:

        It’s like Kurdistan. That oil is not allowed to flow without Libyan gov’t approval (and tax revs). That’s how those tankers got confiscated at sea.

        This is just hilarious.

  13. Old farmer mac says:

    I am not sure the outfit that posted these figures is competent but they do jibe with my seat of the pants belief that oil has to go up substantially just to maintain current production very long.

    • Watcher says:

      Europe is in hardcore recession. China has its problems. Not great news for consumption.

      But US consumption is on the rise!

      • Old farmer mac says:

        Do you think the European situation is going to get worse in the short run? My impression is that they have just about bottomed out and might soon begin to recover a bit – assuming the Russians don’t turn off the gas and oil.

        • Ilambiquated says:

          Spain is certainly recovering. Germany is doing pretty well, but there has been a Ukraine shock. England, France and Italy are dithering.

          • Fred Magyar says:

            “Germany is doing pretty well…”

            Are you sure about that?! I have family in Germany and on an individual level they still seem to be doing alright…


            Germany close to recession as ECB admits recovery is weak

            “Commerzbank warned that the German economy may have contracted by 0.2pc in the second quarter and is far too weak to pull southern Europe out of the doldrums. Industrial output fell 1.5pc over the three months. The DAX index of equities in Frankfurt has dropped 10pc over the past month and is threatening to break through the psychological floor of 9,000.
            Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), said the recovery remained “weak, fragile and uneven”, with a marked slowdown in recent weeks on escalating geopolitical worries over Russia and the Middle East.”

            • Ilambiquated says:

              Well I live in Germany and I feel pretty confident. That may not be very representative though.

              I think the Ukraine mess dinged the Germany economy, but it’s hardly the end of the world. It will hurt more farther East, but most of their growth comes from looking westward and elsewhere anyway.

              I’m not sure I understand the reference to the Southern European economies. Spain, Portugal and Greece have more or less shaken off the banking crisis.

              Anyway I don’t expect Germany to carry their economies.

              • Ilambiquated says:

                That said, today the new IFO numbers came out, and the confidence of German businessmen fell for the fourth month in a row…

  14. Could U.S. Crude Oil Reserves Be Grossly Exaggerated?

    Much has been made of the technology-driven shale revolution that has sent U.S. crude oil production to levels not seen since the 1980s and boosted its crude oil reserves to the highest level since the 1970s. But the misuse of a formula that few outside the industry know about could seriously jeopardize the accuracy of reserve estimates and the length of time we have before our shale oil wells run dry.

    The formula that changed the game
    In 1945, a petroleum engineer by the name of Jan Arps published a formula for the rate at which crude oil production from a well declines. Using decline analysis, his formula attempted to determine a well’s future production rates and the amount of oil that could ultimately be recovered from it, known as the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR).

    Though a number of experts have attempted to improve the Arps equation, his original formula remains widely used throughout the oil and gas industry today. Virtually all upstream oil and gas companies rely on it or one of its close variants to extrapolate trends about a well’s oil production rates, determine the economics of drilling, and — perhaps most importantly — estimate reserves.

    But the problem is that the oil and gas industry has changed radically since Arps’ time. Monumental advances in drilling techniques like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have allowed companies to exploit previously inaccessible shale reservoirs. Yet despite these shale plays’ unique challenges, companies continue to rely on the decades-old Arps formula to gauge their potential.

    According to University of Houston engineering professor John Lee, this practice may be problematic since many shale plays have extremely limited production histories, leading companies to make unfounded assumptions that may end up grossly overstating the reserves and long-term production potential of these shale wells.

    Arps’ limitations
    Like any formula, the Arps equation is only as good as the assumptions it makes. That’s why using it to extrapolate future production and reserves for shale plays with limited drilling histories may result in inflated figures. EURs for shale plays may also be exaggerated depending on the decline rates companies assume and depending on whether or not they cherry-pick data from their best-performing wells.

    The latter practice proved a major hurdle for SandRidge Energy, an Oklahoma City-based energy producer that operates primarily in the Mississippi Lime formation of Oklahoma and Kansas. In April of last year, the company slashed its EUR estimates from 422,000 barrels per well to 369,000 barrels per well after recognizing that its earlier forecasts were flawed because it had used data from a small number of high-performing wells to extrapolate the potential across the rest of its acreage.

    SandRidge wasn’t an isolated case. A number of other companies relying on the Arps formula or its variants have also cut their initial EUR and reserve estimates for relatively immature plays. Indeed, reserve estimates for an entire shale play — California’s Monterey — were recently slashed by a whopping 96% from 13.7 billion barrels to just 600 million barrels because the play turned out to be much more difficult to drill than previously believed

    The bottom line
    It’s possible that U.S. oil reserves may be overstated, especially if decline rates for shale wells turn out to be higher than companies believe — a strong possibility according to some geologists and industry experts. But that, by itself, doesn’t fault the Arps formula in any way, and it doesn’t suggest that companies are deliberately overstating their reserves.

    Instead, it simply reflects the inherently dubious assumptions used by companies who are forced to rely on limited and incomplete data for immature shale plays. For investors, this means taking reserve and future production estimates for emerging plays with a grain of salt and being especially cautious about companies operating exclusively in untested plays.

    Risk-averse investors would be wise to instead focus on companies operating in tried-and-tested formations with extensive production histories and acreage that has been properly delineated and derisked, which makes future drilling repeatable and a whole lot less risky.

    My two cents worth: I believe the Bakken reserves, as stated by the USGS, to be grossly exaggerated.

    • Dave Ranning says:

      “Sacred cows make the best hamburger”
      – Abbey Hoffman

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Ron,

      Do you think the EIA’s Proved reserve data is grossly exaggerated?

      Link for EIA data below:

      2 reserves estimate is proved reserves divided by 0.7.

      2P reserves increased by 4.7 Gb from 2007 to 2012, about 0.5 Gb of Bakken oil was produced in North Dakota over this period and about 0.3 Gb of these reserves may have been from the non-Bakken, so roughly 5 Gb of 2P reserves were added from 2008 to 2012.

      Note that the grossly exaggerated USGS estimate in 2008 expected 3.6 Gb of reserves would be added to the Bakken (that was the mean estimate). In fact proved reserves were equal to this estimate over the 2008 to 2012 period, when probable reserves are added the 2008 USGS estimate was too low by 1.4 Gb.

      Perhaps the 2013 USGS mean estimate is too high, but the F95 estimate (3.4 Gb) will likely be met, bringing the URR to around 8 Gb.

      • Do you think the EIA’s Proved reserve data is grossly exaggerated?


        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Ron,

          The well profile that you often post from the NDIC has an EUR of about 550 kb, the well profile that I use for the Bakken is about 380 kb and I expect the EUR will decrease as the sweet spots get fully drilled. Let’s assume at least 10,000 wells can be drilled in the sweet spots. That’s 3.8 Gb. Now let’s assume the next 10,000 wells produce only half the oil on average as the first 10,000 wells (because they are outside of the sweet spots), that is another 1.9 Gb for a total of 5.7 Gb.

          I think that you are mistaken, but time answers these questions.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Another mistake in my comment above.

        I said:

        “2 reserves estimate is proved reserves divided by 0.7.”

        I meant to say:

        The 2P reserves estimate is equal to proved reserves divided by 0.7.

  15. Patrick R says:

    Ok, now that price is falling anyone got a call on what level it causes drilling for expensive unconventional oil to stop? What would that look like, stressed companies falling over, or just a slow down in LTO and ultra deep projects?

    Alternatively anyone expecting any OPEC (Saudi) attempt to shore up price by ‘resting’ fields?

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Patrick,

      For the Bakken transport costs to the East Coast are about $12/barrel and the refineries there are willing to pay Brent prices, in my model Brent prices can fall to $70/barrel (breakeven price) before we see much effect on Bakken output in the near term(up to Dec 2015). At the EIA website they have the Brent spot price at $99/barrel, I doubt Brent crude will drop to $70/barrel in the near term unless there is another financial crisis.

  16. Patrick R says:

    Perhaps all you Americans are a-bed so I’ll answer my own questions:

    ‘The energy group Douglas-Westwood says half the oil industry needs prices of $120 or more to generate free cash flow under current drilling plans and shareholder dividends. Leverage may catch up with them, a risk flagged recently by Standard & Poor’s.
    The oil-exporting states are also trapped. Russia needs crude prices near $110 to balance the budget. Natixis says the fiscal break-even cost for Iraq is $108, for Saudi Arabia $97 and the Emirates $89. Bahrain and Algeria are over $120.”

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Patrick,

      I might be reading that chart incorrectly but for the industry as a whole, it looks like about $100/b for breakeven. In reality it is the cost of the marginal barrel that matters most, oil companies will not proceed with projects that have a cost per barrel that they expect will be below the price of oil.

      Of course the lack of supply would tend to increase prices, but it is always a guessing game (figuring out what the future price of oil will be).

  17. Post from:

    Jean Laherrere
    1:27 AM


    As it is obvious from your graphs that EIA is estimating production for recent months by a linear extrapolation of the past I prefer to ignore their legacy decline rates.
    I prefer to deal only for ND with DMR data but the ND global decline is not yet there.
    Furthermore decline rates need to know the number of new wells when DMR.ND reports the number of producing wells, without giving the detail of the growth between new wells and abandoned old wells
    presently looking at the location of new wells they are finishing to drill in the sweet spots the question is when is this infilling will stop and what will be the production outside the sweet spots.
    The best is to wait for the peak.
    I guess that it will be before the end of the year or maybe next year.

    All comments about Bakken reserves from USGS (or others) are useless: their estimates were always wrong in the past for conventional play and no one knows how to estimate reserves for shale plays.
    Hubbert linearization of production is the least worst estimate.

    Best regards


    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Jean,

      The USGS estimates are not great, I agree, their 2008 estimate of the Bakken was much too low.

      We can assume there will be no new reserves added to the Bakken/Three Forks in the future ( an unreasonably pessimistic assumption in my opinion) and using proved reserves from the EIA we can estimate 5.2 Gb of 2P reserves and production in the Bakken/Three Forks.

      Using a Hubbert Linearization on 2 or even 5 years of data is very likely to underestimate the URR.
      The USGS F95 estimate is much more likely to be correct than the Hubbert linearization over such a short time period.

      To illustrate how far off such a Hubbert analysis might be I show a Hubbert linearization below for Prudhoe Bay IPA plus satellites ( from State of Alaska data) for 1980 to 1984 which suggests a URR of 5 Gb. As I am sure you are aware the likely URR based on current data is about 12 Gb.

      In the case of the Bakken if we use annual rather than monthly data (your vertical axis is mislabeled as aP/CP % when it should be mP/CP %) and do the Hubbert analysis for 2009 to 2013, the URR is about 8 Gb, for 2011 to 2013 the result is 6 Gb and if we use only 2012 and 2013 we get about 3 Gb.
      The Hubbert linearization method gives very poor results when used too early, once we are a few years beyond the peak it starts to give more sensible results.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hello Jean,

        I was taking a quick look at the USGS World Petroleum assessment 2000 and if we assume the US URR is about 300 Gb and add this to the F95 estimate for conventional oil we get about 2200 Gb which is pretty close to your C+C less extra heavy estimate.

        The 2000 assessment did not look at continuous deposits such as the Canadian oil sands or the Orinoco belt and the F95 estimate matches very closely with your work.

        For this reason I have more confidence in the USGS F95 North Dakota Bakken/ Three Forks estimate from April 2013 which is about 3.5 Gb for undiscovered technically recoverable resources(UTRR).

        To me the addition of cumulative production and 2P reserves of 5 Gb to this 3.5 Gb UTRR estimate which yields about 8.5 Gb for the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks is a much more reasonable estimate than the 4 Gb estimate based on a Hubbert linearization that has too few data points to be reliable.

    • SRSrocco says:


      Would you mind expanding a bit more on your statement, “All comments about Bakken reserves from the USGS (or others) are useless.”

      All the best…


  18. Don Westlund says:

    I thought this was interesting. Validating some of Steven Kopits work……

    Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Warns on Oil Supply

    Industry profitability is plateauing after a banner decade,” said Mr. Al-Falih. “We are seeing project cancellations and a general capital curtailment.”

    Mr. Al-Falih said his company had launched a program to reduce its capital cost by 20%, as “even at Saudi Aramco, project costs have roughly doubled over the last decade.”

    The world’s oil fields are in decline, so the world needs to replace close to 40 million barrels a day of new capacity within the next two decades, Mr. Al-Falih said. A lot of those resources will be complex and expensive, such as shale oil and gas and heavy oil projects.

    • The above article is behind a pay wall but available via google.

      Someone asked up thread how low oil prices would have to go before it started affecting investment in the oil patch. Well here’s your answer:

      Mr. Al-Falih said his company had launched a program to reduce its capital cost by 20%, as “even at Saudi Aramco, project costs have roughly doubled over the last decade.”

      In other words, it’s already happening. It is not just the low price of oil but the rising project costs. A double whammy is hitting drillers, low crude prices and rising expenses. They are already cutting back.

  19. Pingback: Ropný trojuholník neveští nič dobré |

  20. For those who are wondering what a “pingback” is, (above), it is when another blog or news article posts a link to this blog. The above pingback article is in Russian, I think but not really sure. Anyway there is a translate button if you would like to read the article. The article posts one of Jean’s charts with this text:

    FIG. 3 .: current forecast of development of oil production in the United States by the French geologist Jean Laherrere. He expects a relatively rapid decline in the extraction of unconventional resources, which meant an unprecedented boost oil production in the United States and led to many optimistic expectations? Energy Revolution? in this country. The energy independence of the country, however, has a very long way. (Source: Peak Oil Barrel )

    The chart they posted is “USL48 Oil Production from EIA Forecast and Ultimates” posted above. USL48 is US Lower 48 States, for all thous unfamiliar with that acronym.

    • Fred Magyar says:

      “For those who are wondering what a “pingback” is, (above), it is when another blog or news article posts a link to this blog. The above pingback article is in Russian, I think but not really sure.”

      I was about to guess Polish then I got curious…

      The pingback is of Slovak origin. If you click the link you can see the ‘.sk’ at the end of the URL and if you set your Google Translate to ‘ Detect Language’ it also says Slovak-detected.

      It’s all Slavic to me >;-)

      • Strummer says:

        Yes, it’s Slovak. The author is a blogger who used to have a peak oil themed blog on the internet site of the biggest Slovak newspaper, but he stopped a few months ago, I guess due to all the aggressive comments he was getting there… the Slovak population (and especially younger people) is completely brainwashed when it comes to resources, capitalism, sustainability and all the other related issues, I guess it’s because we used to look up to the West and to capitalism during the communist era and after that it’s impossible for most people to realize the shortcomings those systems… cognitive dissonance in action 🙂

  21. robert wilson says:

    Recent article from Walter Youngquist, author of GeoDestinies

    • Old farmer mac says:

      I find it impossible to argue with the NPG position. We either get population under control and started on a general downward trend or we are royally screwed.

      Now as it happens this organization seems to be focused on the USA in particular and I cannot say why this is so since I have not looked into it.But my guess is that they believe just getting the job done in this country is as much or more than they can hope to accomplish. I tend to agree with them in this respect. Getting population trends under control via actual political activity in most of the developing world seems to be past any possibly given all the forces arrayed against the job such as religion and other cultural habits.

      Even here in the US stopping population growth is probably going to be impossible for paradoxical and ironic political reasons. We would just about have population growth whipped here in another generation or so except for immigration.

      The trouble is that the liberal wing of our political system is generally vehemently opposed to stopping immigration on humanitarian and political grounds.The irony here is that the liberal wing is where the vast majority of people who understand environmental issues find their political home.But the conservatives want the borders closed or nearly closed and for this reason alone the liberals will oppose closing the borders.

      The conservatives unfortunately mostly either don’t understand the grave depth of our environmental problems or else pretend they don’t and insist the environment is ok and will continue to be ok with such environmental regulations as we have already. A lot of conservatives would like to dismantle such environmental regulation as we have.

      They want the borders closed for the very simple political reason that most immigrants are going to add to the cost of maintaining the welfare net at least for the near term and that they are going to be democratic voters in the long term.

      Both sides as far as I can see and as both my liberal and conservative friends agree in private agree with this basic analysis as I have just outlined it.

      Personally I think the borders will remain as porous as a sifter bottom until the fecal matter hits the fan sometime in the not so distant future as peak oil and peak resources and peak credit and climate change all combine to bring on a severe and lasting depression.

      At that time the borders in my opinion will be slammed shut and getting in will be as hard as getting out used to be from East Germany.

      I refer to myself as a conservative but think of myself as a realist.

      I find it instructive that Hillary is in the news today triangulating – taking a page out of Bill’s playbook- and insisting that the river of children coming must be turned back.

      • We would just about have population growth whipped here in another generation or so except for immigration.

        Not a chance. Population growth is not a national problem, it’s a world problem.
        The sad news is there is nothing you can do . Youngquist ends his paper:

        Hardin was very pragmatic in his approach to matters of population and Earth, but was also compassionate and hopeful. We would discuss the world’s ills at length, concluding that humanity’s future appeared rather grim–but when I departed, he would always firmly grasp my hand and say “yes, but we must try.”

        And we must.”

        That is very similar to how Lester Brown usually ends his books. The last chapter always starts out with something to the effect of: “Here’s what we must do.”

        Sorry Lester, sorry Walter, sorry Mac and sorry to the late Garret Hardin. There is not one goddamn thing we can do. We are screwed! We are deep, deep, deep into overshoot. All such dramatic overshoots in the animal kingdom always ends the same. And I don’t need to tell you how it ends.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Ron,

          The total fertility ratio World wide was about 5 births per woman over her life time in 1960, by 2010 this had fallen by half to 2.5 births per woman. This trajectory matches well with the UN’s low fertility scenario which sees population declining by 2050. There will be problems and I agree with Mac that they will be severe, but population reduction will certainly help with overshoot.

          • Doug Leighton says:

            The current world population of 7.2 billion is projected to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050, according to a United Nations report launched today, which points out that growth will be mainly in developing countries, with more than half in Africa.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Doug,

              The medium fertility scenario leads to the 9,6 billion in 2050, the low fertility scenario has population peaking in 2050 at a little over 8 billion. See chart below with population in thousands, data can be found at link below.


              • Doug Leighton says:

                (June 2013) The United Nations Population Division has just released its comprehensive estimates and projections, World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision. The results show a larger global population size in 2050, 9.6 billion, up from the 9.3 billion that the UN projected in its 2010 Revision. A major reason for the higher projection is higher fertility (birth rates) in some countries than previously estimated, particularly in Africa. Much of that information comes from recent demographic surveys.

                • Dennis Coyne says:

                  Hi Doug,

                  The chart I posted is data from the same report, there is also a high fertility and constant fertility scenario, but those cases are ridiculous, it is possible that the medium fertility scenario will be correct, but there are many nations such as South Korea, Taiwan, and many nations in Europe with very low total fertility ratios(TFR, under 1.5 births per woman over her lifetime) so the low fertility scenario with World TFR falling from 2.5 in 2010 to under 2 in 2050 does not seem unrealistic, World TFR fell from over 5 to 2.5 in 45 years from 1965 to 2010.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    But I never hear an answer to the problem of the populations that are expanding exponentially and showing no sign of slowing down simply continuing to expand exponentially and very quickly their rate of increase in population exceeds the rate of decrease in population in the areas where it is decreasing. The only thing that will prevent this is resource depletion and starvation or disease in the areas with growing populations. I think we are very close to that point in parts of Africa.

        • Old farmer mac says:

          I agree we are way into overshoot on a world wide basis and that there is nothing that can be done about it that WILL BE done about it.

          But the word ” here” in the sentence quoted should be read as ” here in the US” and by implication similarly situated countries. Our birth rates including our minorities and poor people are just about low enough now for our population to stabilize and with a dab of luck to actually start trending down within about thirty years IF we were to close our borders.

          Now I know most doomers are convinced that the whole world is going to crash and I do agree that this is a VERY serious possibility.

          I will never agree however that it is a NECESSITY- that it is baked in.

          I have a certain amount of professional expertise in matters ecological since professional agriculture is built on the biological sciences and I keep up with what is actually happening both politically and scientifically.

          Collapse COULD happen more or less world wide more or less within a short period of time for a variety of reasons which I will not go into here in detail. Suffice it to say in a nutshell an asteroid strike or WWIII could bring on a world wide collapse.

          A general world wide ecological collapse is not out of the question by any means but the depth of such a collapse is an open question.

          But resources and power and military power in particular are not equally distributed over the world and barring a general ecological collapse – which again is not out of the question by any means- countries such as the US are not just going to go peacefully into the night.

          Sorry to be totally obstinate on this point but anybody who believes otherwise just does not understand the nature of Leviathan- the modern nation state as first envisioned by Hobbs.

          We don’t import a single damned thing that we MUST have to survive as an industrial civilization north of the Mexican border.We don’t HAVE to export a damned thing to survive as an industrial civilization.

          I have not disputed that things will be very tough indeed but tough is not the same thing as Somalia.Tough is not the same thing as most of us dieing for lack of food and shelter.

          We -meaning the US and Canada in particular- may not survive as an industrial civilization but it is NOT preordained that we will perish – at least not for the next hundred years- not unless the planetary ecology goes totally to hell in a hand basket.

          Our grand kids here in yankee land may very well live in a police state and by police state I mean under a government as harsh as that of the Stalin era in the old USSR.If you got on Uncle Joe’s shit list you either disappeared without a trace or you went to a concentration camp where you were worked to death on short rations as often as not.

          But our grandchildren with a little luck will still have grid sourced electricity and basic health care and enough to eat.Not much steak and very few grapes in winter to be sure but beans and bread and cabbage at least.There is however an excellent chance things won’t get that bad- a chicken drumstick on holidays is not out of the question lol.

          The collapse that IS coming will no doubt wipe out a huge part of the world population – probably most of it.Maybe as much as ninety percent or more in most places.

          Once most of us are gone most of the pollution will cease because the survivors will for one thing have learned the value of polluting less and two will have less available non renewable resources to exploit and therefore will NECESSARILY pollute much less . Third, five hundred million people will as a practical matter burn a hell of a lot less coal than five billion never mind nine or ten billion.

          Now as to what will happen in the future – in the far distant future the sun is going to expand and vaporize this planet.

          But as to precisely what will happen in a hundred years , or five hundred, we just don’t know and anybody who thinks he does is fooling himself.

          I am a big believer in Malthusian logic and believe that in general the Good Reverend is still going to get the last laugh.

          Conventional economists laugh at him for failing to anticipate the Industrial Revolution even though the thinkers that passed for economists back in those days also failed to anticipate it.

          Almost everybody failed to anticipate the extreme drop in birth rates that has taken place almost everywhere as people have become more prosperous.

          Nobody in antiquity anticipated the rise of a new religion that would grow to dominate history the way Christianity has over the last thousand years.Another religion- but still a ”people of the book ” religion might dominate for the next thousand.Or religion as a general phenomenon may splinter into so many sects that it hardly matters at all in terms of politics.

          I personally do not expect to live long enough to see even a prototype fission power plant built and would bet my farm that nobody over twenty five today will see a fission plant built that feeds the grid.

          But I might lose my bet.We do know that it is possible to live well with only a minor fraction of the energy we use today.

          Almost everybody I know who commutes could commute in a Leaf without any problem at all.

          Can we ever build enough renewable energy infrastructure to totally give up on fossil fuels and still maintain business as usual? Personally I doubt we can within the next century but I do not KNOW that we can’t.Maybe it can’t be done.Maybe it can.

          We just don’t know how good renewables CAN be and we don’t know how much effort and sacrifice future generations are willing to put into the job or how much they will be ABLE to put into it.

          Engineers and scientists will come up with a hell of a lot of stuff we can hardly even imagine in another hundred years- maybe even a workable fusion power plant!! Or maybe insulation good enough that an ordinary house can be kept warm just by body heat and the heat released by the appliances and lights.Maybe an affordable battery that recharges efficiently and will last in contionious service for decades on end.

          I do know that we have plenty of coal and that we can- if we HAVE TO -revert to a coal based civilization and still live quite well for a few hundred more years in some places at least.

          But I wouldn’t go for a visit in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or any country dependent on food and energy imports a couple of decades down the road for a kings ransom. I might not be able to get out again.

        • robert wilson says:

          My population activism dates back to the 50’s when I argued for more liberal criteria for offering postpartum sterilization for grand multips at Jefferson Davis Charity Hospital in Houston. Later among other things I was an officer in ZPG and a speaker for Planned Parenthood. In the grand scheme I accomplished nothing. But on a personal level I was able to change things. Having had a vasectomy almost five decades ago, I have only one grandchild, a number I consider close to perfect.

          • Mike says:

            Banner carried at march protesting about world population growth in the 60s: “MASTURBATION, NOT MASS STARVATION”

        • Ilambiquated says:

          We could solve a lot of the problem with vegetarianism. Our farm animals have about double the biomass that we do. Even switching from beef to chicken (which is already happening in the US at least) would be a great help. Also fish is much better than meat from warm blooded animals because with a few exceptions, fish don’t waste calories heating their bodies.

      • wimbi says:

        I’m about as liberal as you can get, but I oppose open borders from simple arithmetic- shut them or we are going to be inundated. Real simple. Been done. After all, how many African boat people do the Japanese let become citizens? And why not?

        All this has been perfectly clear to me for decades. I decided to do what seemed the only possible thing to do- argue that, same time as shutting borders, we do our best to put the ways and means elsewhere to reduce world population everywhere. Hopeless? Sure, what ain’t?

        Oh, by the way, none of us are smart enough to be hopeless for sure, we don’t know enough now and never will know enough to eliminate hope, no matter how hard we try.

        • Oh, by the way, none of us are smart enough to be hopeless for sure, we don’t know enough now and never will know enough to eliminate hope, no matter how hard we try.

          I wrote a long reply to that statement… then deleted it. It occurred to me that I did not understand the kind of hope you are talking about. Are you saying that we are not smart enough to know whether or not we are in deep overshoot? Are you saying that we are not smart enough to know whether or not the earth can go on supporting 7 to 10 billion people for another hundred years or so?

          Hope? Hope for what?

          • canabuck says:

            I remember my time in Ethiopia. A man from the countryside came to the city because he was ill. His family took him to see the doctor, and after two days he was dead. People were sad, and 4 days later everything was normal again. He was forgotten.
            So it will be if 1 Billion persons expire. There will be a short time of suffering due to lack of food or war, and then it will all be over.

          • wimbi says:

            Ron. I did read many of your very good thoughts in this general area. What I am thinking about isn’t the facts you cite, with which I agree.

            I am thinking about the sorts of things that OFM sometimes mentions, under the heading If I were the Dictator I would do—- followed by a lot of very very tough actions that, given the equally very tough problems, are justified since they might have a net positive result. But, of course, they are all totally “politically impossible”

            Politically Impossible is actually a cop-out substitution for ” damn hard to do, and probably hopeless to think about”.

            That’s the hopeless I had in my head. How do we know whether that stuff is hopeless? None of it violates the second law, so maybe somebody will pull it off- . There ya go–hope!

            So I just go ahead with my save-the-world widgets, have fun, and hope that “maybe something will turn up”.

        • Old farmer mac says:

          Hi Wimbi,

          It’s good to know you are still around.

          I don’t have to give up hope for good and all so long as at least one liberal is willing to come out and say in public that the Tea Party is right on at least one issue. You may have noted that although I still think of myself as a conservative I have expressed my opinion that socialized medicine is the future here and a very good thing for the country as well for CONSERVATIVE reasons.

          IF most people were scientifically literate we could solve our problems.

          Now here is a link that has a whole lot of useful info about our higher educational system that indicates just how deep the rot goes already. The fact that it is a Faux news article doesn’t mean it isn’t true.Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

          I went to the Yale website to see and you can graduate from Yale in lots of different departments with just ONE so called ”SURVEY” course in just one physical or natural science.

          This is to say that a hell of a lot of Ivy Leaguers don’t know sxxt from apple butter when it comes to the sciences.Sky Daddy help us!!!

        • robert wilson says:

          In the past some libertarians have been in a quandary about immigration. A few extremists have suggested that the pure libertarian position should be to allow free movement from anywhere to anywhere. I personally prefer tight national borders. This is not a new issue. My father was at Waco High in Texas around 1920. Leon Jaworski was a classmate. They were on opposing debate teams. The most popular topics were immigration and the Volstead Act (prohibition). Jaworski usually won no matter which side he was given.

  22. DrTskoul says:

    Lemmings before the cliff? No matter how smart we are, as species we obey the same natural laws.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Do most other species do family planning and use artificial birth control methods? Humans are rather unique in this regard, if you think not, I am not sure we would convince each other.

      If you mean humans are bound by the laws of physics, I would agree, I just don’t see that we follow the same types of population dynamics as other species since birth control has become widespread.

      The future is not fixed, the choices societies make can effect the outcome.

      • From the Walter Youngquist link Robert Wilson gave us:

        We now add an astounding 230,000 new mouths to the world’s dinner table every day. Just to meet the anticipated food demand in 2050, food production would have to increase by 60%. This is very unlikely to happen. Nearly all the best farmland is in use, and food supply trends have flattened.

        Births minus deaths, we are adding 230,000 people to the planet every per day. That’s 9,583 additional people added every hour, 160 per minute and 2.67 persons added every second. All that birth control just don’t seem to be doing the trick.

        Incidentally 230,000 is more than the combined number of all other great apes on earth. We increase our numbers more every day than their combined total number on the planet.

        • Ilambiquated says:

          Add livestock and we are 97% of the biomass of terrestrial vertebrates. We are the terrestrial ecosystem.

          Of course he leaves out ants and termites.

          • The Wet One says:

            Respecting the ants and termite, see here:

            Somehow or another, over the course of my life, we’ve managed to reduce the population of ant, termites and other creepy, crawlies by almost 1/2.

            That is just astonishing. Completely mind blowing.

            Also, respecting the food thing, consider this:


            These discoveries do not bode well for the future of human civilization.

            • Ilambiquated says:

              There’s a big discussion out West of whether forest fires should be prevented. The argument against is that there is no other way to get rid of the dead wood. I’ve long wondered if the root cause of the problem is the lack of termites.

              If the woods are full of termites, there won’t be many forest fires, because there isn’t enough fuel.

              If people start forest fires repeatedly, it will wipe out the termites. That adds to the dead would lying around, making more fires inevitable in the future — a self fulfilling prophecy, if you like. And it is hard to find a website on termites that doesn’t contain the word “extermination”.

              I don’t have any evidence that this is true, just a thought.

              • Techsan says:

                I live in a wooded area in Texas, and it is full of termites. Put a piece of 2×4 on the ground and turn it over after 2 weeks, and it will be swarming with termites. Even lumber on an asphalt driveway gets infested.

                But, there is lots of dead wood around in the forest, fuel for forest fires. Much of it is in above-ground brush piles that the termites cannot easily get to. Whatever the reason, lack of termites is not the cause.

          • Fred Magyar says:

            “Of course he leaves out ants and termites.”

            Yep, and they are all edible… >;-)

            And as abundant and nutritious as those little buggers are, they ain’t nothing when it comes to the true overlords of our world, Nematodes!

            BTW, Four out of every five animals on Earth is a nematode.


        • Doug Leighton says:

          “Births minus deaths, we are adding 230,000 people to the planet every per day.”

          That’s a remarkable statistic, a bloody depressing one in fact. When I was a boy a quarter of a million was a small city. So, in one lifetime we’ve come to this. There was a time I feared for my Grandchildren but its closer than that. Even my kids will be facing a lot of really bad stuff. There’s no god-damned way the human race can emerge from this in a recognizable form.

          • Old farmer mac says:

            The Four Horsemen will take care of the overpopulation problem when the time comes.

            The fact that I believe a crash is not necessarily going to be universal does not mean I don’t appreciate the gravity of the situation.

            I was almost ready to join the Peace Corp when I was about to graduate back in the Dark Ages until a crusty cussing old ag professor told me straight up what I would be doing- teaching poor ignorant people how to double their food production so twice as many could starve in another generation.

            • Mac, your crusty cussing old ag professor was one smart dude.

              Thanks, best laugh I have had in a week.

              • Old farmer mac says:

                You would really have liked some of the biology professors who taught a full third of my classes.

                Some of them got so bent out of shape about things we were doing over in the ag college that they would just about have an epileptic fit.You have to understand that this was back in the sixties when we were still using pesticides such as DDT and lead arsenate and applying fertilizer like there was no tomorrow- it was much cheaper in those days.

                We are still over applying it of course but the cost of it keeps over application in check to a very substantial extent. There are still a few small spots on my farm there are no earthworms forty years after the last application of pesticide and the harvest of the last crop.There were no fish in the bordering stream until twenty years ago.

            • Watcher says:

              Truth be told, the generic Peace Corps volunteer is :
              1) Unlikely to be found where he or she is assigned. They will wander to the local expat watering hole and hang out. Could be 15-20 miles from their assignment.

              2) A target/magnet for green card hunters.

              3) Unlikely to finish the 2 year tour. I have forgotten the number that go home early. Well over 50%.

            • Ilambiquated says:

              There is a great way to reduce birth rates — educate women. It works like a charm.

              High birth rates are not what is driving population growth right now. High survival rates are much more important. This means the population pyramid is getting narrower and taller.

              An older population is inherently less fertile than a young population. Starving people keeps the population young. Educating them ages the population. I think education and family planning will be the deciding factors in population growth in the 21st century, not food availability, so I am reasonably optimistic.

              One note: Old people die natural deaths, defusing the population bomb. If someone figures out how to significantly extend human life, we will all starve.

              • Doug Leighton says:

                Educate women! What do women need to be educated for? I was taught God created women to serve men and produce kids, not to hang out in coffee bars pretending to have intelligent conversations. Christ man, where do your ideas come from? Didn’t you go to Sunday School? My wife has a stupid PhD in Engineering Physics: Its as if she needed more schooling than how to balance MY check book. Bloody waste of a system if you ask me. Of course you didn’t actually ask me did you?

  23. DrTskoul says:

    Actually they do! For example, in many species only the dominant female allows reproduction (eg meerkats).

    Otherwise we are seeing the problem from the same angle.

    • Old farmer mac says:

      True but the dominant females still produce all the meerkats the meerkat niche will support.When things turn sour for them the meerkat population will crash just like any other species in temporary overshoot.We tend to forget that overshoot is ALWAYS temporary.

      People in many places actually are by voluntary choice reproducing at less than replacement rates in environments where food and shelter is plentiful and enemies are scarce.

      The dynamic situation is altogether different.

      If I were a Bill Gates I would set up a program that actually paid poor women and men in developing countries to voluntarily get sterilized after having one or two children.

      We just don’t have an overpopulation problem anymore in rich countries (excepting sand country petrostates ) if business as usual holds up for another generation or two. My own family members a generation or two back were all fundamentalists of the Baptist stripe..Most of us are yet. Families of as many as eight or nine kids were common as late as the forties.

      Today most of us are still fundamentalists but not very serious about it and I have only one young female cousin that I am aware of who has three children. A couple of older cousins have four but none over four.By older I mean thru having kids.My own three sisters had only five kids between them and the youngest would be almost sixty if still alive.The extended family mean now is well under two per woman and maybe as low as one point five even though we live in one of the poorest parts of the country.

  24. Tim E. says:

    Looks like Humanity, instead of Evolving, is… LOL! Re-Volving!

    It’s not evolution, it’s Re-volution!

    Dumb & Dumber – Scientific Proof That People Are Getting ‘Stupider’

    Are people dumber than they used to be? Were previous generations mentally sharper than us? You may have suspected that people are getting stupider for quite some time, but now we actually have scientific evidence that this is the case. As you will read about below, average IQs are dropping all over the globe, SAT scores in the U.S. have been declining for decades, and scientists have even discovered that our brains have been getting smaller over time.

    You can’t make this stuff up – but I see the evidence every single day.

    • Brian Rose says:

      Tim E,

      I can’t quite tell if that is a sarcastic post, so I’m going to treat it as though it is serious.

      Our brains have been getting smaller for millions of years. This does not mean that we are dumber than previous hominid species; in fact, we seem to be quite a bit more intelligent. Shrinking brain size is a poor indicator of intelligence. Generally, Biologists use brain mass/body mass ratio to determine intelligence with good, but not perfect, correlation.

      Using IQ tests as a means of measuring whether we are becoming dumber is fraught with disaster. IQ tests have all kinds of inherent biases, especially since they tend to test information instead of capacity to learn. Who determines what information must be known to be considered “intelligent”?

      This article then goes on to subjectively reference that we would all fail a high school exam from 100 years ago. Sure, of course we would, just like a high schooler today knows little about the Vietnam War since it was a generation ago, and only so much can be taught.

      Today we use different words than a century ago. We have calculators so have less need for many equations. We have GPS, so we have less need for knowing multiple ways of getting places. This doesn’t mean we are less intelligent. It means that we, like any organism, take the path of least resistance, which is actually quite intelligent. If there is no need wasting glucose on an action because something external does it for us this does not make us dumber.

      There are thousands of things we do that people a century ago wouldn’t know how to do. Pretty much every aspect of every second of your day involves a series of things someone from 1900 would have no idea what to do. Does this make them dumber? Well, according to this whimsical method of analysis, it does. So I guess we are dumber AND they were dumber, just depends on the random criteria we choose to measure, which happily tends to confirm our initial bias. Yay! What I wanted to believe was right!

      I was highly intrigued that there was research showing we are, on the average, getting dumber, but then I found a fluff piece and was very dissapointed.

      • Old farmer mac says:

        I would not want this comment to be taken too seriously but as a matter of fact I believe a good argument can be made for us being dumber than our ancestors for two complimentary reasons.

        First modern life makes it easy for the intellectually challenged to survive in comparison to an environment where making a bad decision meant you didn’t reproduce successfully. Not many people starve in a modern welfare state – nor do their kids.If you are dumb enough to figuratively shoot your foot off the state will nevertheless continue to feed you and you may continue to have children if you please. The state will feed your kids too.

        Second more intelligent people seem to be reproducing at a lower rate than less intelligent people.

        Farm hands on average are less intelligent than professors but on average have more kids.This is not to say farm hands are stupid or don’t have some smart kids. My parents (father still living) were farm hands with almost no education at all.One of my sisters is a professor in a medical school and another is a one per center successful businesswoman.

        I could join Mensa if I wanted to.

        Only people who have no understanding of biology could possibly have any reason to believe human intelligence is NOT a heritable trait to a substantial extent.We have been breeding animals for intelligence for a long time.What plays in dogs and horses and pigs generally plays in humans too, not that I know of any efforts to breed intelligent pigs.

        There is no evidence that I am aware of indicating intelligence is NOT heritable in people.There is evidence to indicate that it is.

        But measuring intelligence is like measuring sea level. It’s a tricky undertaking and the results mean little except on a statistical basis.Nobody actually knows if we are more or less intellectually capable than our recent ancestors.

        We are certainly smarter than yeast (on average!) even though our neocortex is not our boss. The boss lives in the lower brain centers.This is the explanation as to why the average older nurse well trained in basic nutrition and the risks associated with obesity is still nevertheless obese.

        I am well trained in these fields myself being an ag guy not to mention having finished most of a degree in nursing and I am dangerously close to being obese by definition.

        If my old Daddy passes anytime soon I will finish the nursing degree just to get to hang around with the hot young blossoms.(Twain)

        I dropped out to look after him when he got really sick. I started because I was bored and because I am somewhat of a doomer and wanted to know as much as possible about getting by without help from a medical system that might cease to function. So far I have saved the lives of two people using the training I got without finishing by knowing how to stabilize them long enough to get them to a hospital and knowing enough TO TAKE THEM even though neither wanted to go.

        They will have to readmit me because age discrimination in education is against the law.If I do eventually graduate I might be the oldest ever nursing graduate in Virginia. That ought to get my picture in the paper!!

        • Brian Rose says:

          Old Farmer Mac,

          I wholeheartedly agree with both your postulates.

          In terms of the gene pool, the first allows low fitness genes of any kind to become more prevalent than would happen under natural selection. It essentially eliminates the factor of gene fitness, which is the very basis of evolution in a gene pool.

          Where the first postulate reduces the difference in relative fitness between genes, evening the playing field if you will, the second (higher reproductive rate of low fitness genes) acts in synergy with the first to make what was, just a few centuries ago, a low fitness gene now a high fitness gene.

          We have literally flipped the tables on what genes have high or low fitness. That is to say, genes that once had trouble being passed on are now the most likely to be passed on.

          Just as you said, this is all conjecture, but it certainly seems to have a level of validity.

          With the groundbreaking pace of discovery about epigenetic change and the importance of the enterobiome I have recently begun to see this as an even more severe issue. At least in the developed world, the people who produce the most progeny on average seem to be those who consume things in a manner that is epigenetically detrimental to their offspring.

          I think it is quite likely that changes in the enterobiome have direct epigenetic effects as well. Science Friday on NPR had a show recently on recent findings that revolutionize our idea of how strongly the bacteria in our guts effect not just our physical health, but also change our mood, mental capacity, sleep patterns, and behaviors.

          However, both epigenetics and enterobiome physiology are frontiers of human biology that are in very early stages. The light that has been shed on both in the last decade has re-written college textbooks, and added entire chapters. Within the next 10 years these two subjects will command not just chapters, but entire sections, and in 20 years will be required individual classes for any undergrad degree in Biology or Medicine.

          Just my two cents…

    • Techsan says:

      Whoa … wait a minute. Is this actually true? Plenty of evidence otherwise.

      • Techsan, the Flynn effect has long been discredited as a testing anomaly. However there is a very good reason that it is true:

        And remember the competitive exclusion principle: if fertility varies in a population that is offered options in fertility, then as the generations succeed one another, the pronatalist elements in the population will, in time, displace the ones who conscientiously limit their fertility. You will have failed to internalize population control. (And unfortunately, some of the more competitive individuals may start thinking about violent alternatives. That means that you will get genocide secondarily.)
        – Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor

        In plain language Hardin is saying that those who voluntarily limit their population will simply be replaced by those who don’t. And if, just if mind you, those who voluntarily limit their numbers are smarter than those who don’t then…….

        • Old farmer mac says:

          Unless there is a Catholic university around someplace where the tenets of the church are taken seriously I doubt there is a professor in the western world who has eight or more kids.

          I am not sure the Flynn effect has been totally discredited but I am sure it is overblown. Ya can’t count on social scientists the way you can chemists when it comes to interpreting data. There is a tendency for people who get results favorable for the status quo to move up thru the ranks.If you want to succeed in education the one thing above all you must be is a conventional thinker.This means going along to get along. Your boss isn’t going to be impressed with evidence that smaller classes and better trained teachers aren’t good investments.

          Of course a chemist whose job depends on favorable interpretation of test results might find a way to interpret them as favorable too, lol.

      • Old farmer mac says:

        I presume you comment is in response to mine.

        In this case what do you mean by
        ”Is this actually true?” ??

        Do you mean there is no evidence intelligence is heritable in humans? Or that there is evidence we are getting dumber? Or that the Flynn effect is real?

        The so called Flynn effect does not address the heritability of intelligence but rather a supposed general rise in intelligence pretty much across the board.This rise – if it truly exists – could not be reasonably supposed to be INHERITED.

        There has been no known change in the human genome from one generation to the next that could account for it and there is no reason to believe such a change would occur in just four or five generations barring some truly exceptional selection pressure.

        If you cannot digest dairy products the odds are good your kids can’t.

        IF your local staple diet does not include milk no problem.

        But suppose other foods become very scarce and for some reason milk is plentiful. You and your kids might starve.Your neighbor who loves milk and his kids would have a substantially better chance of survival.

        This is the sort of selection pressure that can change a genome in a hurry.

        The Flynn effect must have to do with environmental factors of which there are quite a few which are relevant including better educated parents, better nutrition, and even television. Kids over the last few generations have had to work less and thus had more time to play and more stuff to play with and more kids to interact with other than siblings.A person interested in listing such factors could probably come up with a hundred in a few days of research.

        I have seen it remarked in print that a lot of kids know what a champagne bucket is only because they have seen one on the Three Stooges tv show.

        In any case I said first line I did not want my comment taken too seriously.Just because an argument can be made it is not necessarily a good one.Hence my first line disclaimer.

        There are many ways noise can interfere with the results of any sort of experiment based on statistics and people or economic questions.It must be perfectly obvious for instance that if more oil is brought to market the price of oil should be going down according to well understood supply and demand theory. But in fact more oil if only a little more has been coming to market for the last ten or twelve years and yet the price trend is UP.

        The downward pressure of greater supply IS having the effect of lowering prices. But the increase in demand from developing countries is enough to overwhelm the effect of greater supply and prices are rising .

        The first effect is lost to view in the noise introduced by the second effect.

        A minor loss in POTENTIAL intelligence on average could easily be overwhelmed by an increase in MEASURED intelligence due to positive environmental factors.

        But truth be known we don’t even have a good definition of what intelligence actually IS.

        IF our recent ancestors were potentially or actually ”more intelligent” than we are today the amount of ” intelligence” we have lost on average would probably be very small and maybe not even detectable-if there were a way to test for it.

        In my personal opinion this loss is probably real. If your own parents were one per centers the odds of you being it the bottom ten percent are pretty slim in the case of a normal pregnancy.Likewise if your parents were in the bottom ten percent the odds of you being it the top ten percent are kind of slim. But your parents might have been ten per centers if they had grown up better fed and went to better schools.No matter what they passed on the genes and not the lessons.

        Neither of my parents could even have taken an conventional IQ test due to their extremely limited education. BUT that does not mean they did not have excellent brains. The average score of the five of us kids is well above one hundred.

        Renorming scores involves a lot of politics.The college board scores I earned in high school put me at certain percentile among my peers. A few years later that same score would have looked a lot worse converted to percentile rank because scores were going up.But the test was rewritten and the scoring system changed.

        I don’t think the kids three or four grades behind me were noticeably smarted than the ones I graduated with but according to the college boards they were.

        The Flynn effect is probably real too but I suspect it is overblown.

        • Mac, don’t get too excited about this. Mention intelligence in the same paragraph with inheritance and you will have a fight on your hands. Don’t worry about it, it comes with the territory. And, incidentally, the Flynn effect is not real.

          I am a liberal, a card carrying bleeding heart liberal but… There is such a thing as liberal bullshit. And claiming that intelligence is not inherited is liberal bullshit.

          That and a few other things…

          • Old farmer mac says:


            There is more than enough conservative bullshit to offset the liberal bullshit.Life is a messy business.

            A truly disinterested but perceptive observer would describe both of us as realists.

          • Brian Rose says:

            Although intelligence is an inherited trait I believe it is best to view intelligence as a heritable trait that more or less susceptible to intelligence, much like being more genetically prone to have cardiovascular disease or specific cancers.

            I would posit that we could take 100 infants with the maximum amount of “smart” gene variations, and put them in a poor inner city environment with little educational resources and they would turn out dumber than 100 “dumb” gene infants given world class educational resources.

            That is clearly just my opinion as there’s no way to test it, but evidence does support the conclusion that genetic variation in intelligence is so small that it is washed out by slight variations in social class, educational resources, parent engagement, etc

            So does intelligence vary genetically? Certainly, I don’t know if anyone can truly doubt this when equipped with even a cursory knowledge of genetics. Potential maximum intelligence, given perfect conditions, clearly varies, but in the real world there are dozens of varying environmental factors. Each environmental factor likely has a larger impact on whether intelligence develops than the genetic basis itself.

            This is likely what also makes me a liberal. Instead of a “I’m great and everything I have I earned alone because I’m awesome” mentality I see that a lot of what I am is due to circumstances beyond my control. I had no control over the parents I have, country I was born in, school system I was placed in, time period in history I was born, etc, etc

            All those things that I never had a say in when I was developing ultimately had a large impact on who I became. Even when we’re older our “free will” decision to change our lives this way or that is only decided upon by prior conditioning, experiences, and causes.

            A hardcore conservative tends to think “I got here DESPITE my environment”; this is well exemplified by Paul Ryan wanting to cut welfare when it was welfare that put him through college. He believes he is where he is purely because of his drive and ambition. If asked I’d guess that he’d predict he would be where he is whether or not he received welfare growing up. His welfare was therefore a waste in his mind because it had zero impact on whether he was successful in life. HE made himself successful, regardless of the conditions he grew up in and resources he had access to.

            A hardcore liberal will likely be more prone to thinking “I got here BECAUSE of my environment”. This paradigm difference creates a dramatic difference in the desire to fund social programs.

            Of course, the middle ground is a blend whereby the conditions and resources of our socioeconomic class determine our handicap and our drive, passion, and ambition propel us forward from there.

            I, however, am a fatalist and see any sort of ambition or drive as being the result of prior causes. For the first 10 billion years the molecules in the universe strictly followed the immutable laws of chemistry and physics. Hydrogen atoms don’t have a say in the matter. What I find odd is that many people are convinced that when life came about this somehow changed. hat somehow “freewill” emerged and the immutable laws of the universe just magically stop when I decide to do this or that.

            The reality is that every thought I have or action I take is, on a fundamental level, a series of chemical, physical, and electrical changes that adhere completely to the laws of physics. At no point has any molecule ever had “freewill” and decided to do its own thing. 1,000,000,000,000 molecular actions strictly following immutable laws adds up to 1 macro-action that, although it FEELS like freewill, is entirely fated due to the laws of physics.

            I don’t quite know where that puts me on the political spectrum…

            Personally, I enjoy the ideas of the futurist party. They believe peer reviewed and verified data and statistics should drive all policy decisions.


            • Brian, from your link:

              The Futurist Party promotes evidence based policy with a strict adherence to openness and transparency. We stand for education reform, open internet as a right of online citizens, economic liberty through universal basic income, and advancements in science, technology and space.

              However if you truly believe you will change the world then you have visions of grandeur and will ultimately be bitterly disappointed.

              But we do have very similar views on free will. Have you read my essay: The Grand Illusion?

              • Brian Rose says:


                I have zero hope that even a single Futurist Party member will ever win an election in the federal government. Local elections? Perhaps.

                Even if a Futurist Party member or two were to win a Congressional or Senate seat, which would likely only be done by running as a Progressive Democrat of some sort, they still would have zero power to do anything.

                Last I looked Congress had 9 members in the Peak Oil Caucus, and from what I can see it has not made a single difference. So in the 0.0001% chance event that the Futurist Party gets 9 people elected… it will still mean nothing.

                Just because I like their perspective does not mean I think they matter whatsoever.

                The end of growth is a hard pill to swallow. Jimmy Carter tried carrying that message and he lost. The guy he lost to, the one who proposed that the American way is to produce, invent, and grow our way out of problems is now the most admired President in recent times for half the country.

                On top of this, we now know Jimmy Carter was wrong. We did not face an imminent scarcity society at that time; growing our way out of the problem worked. To me this means there is absolutely no chance that any politician will mention resource scarcity, peak oil, the end of growth, or anything relating to these issues until it is far too late.

                Because of this I’m a firm believer in doing everything possible at the personal level. Our society as a whole will get much, much poorer over time, but this does not mean we will all be poor. Those who prepare properly ahead of time will maintain a high standard of living.

                I moved from MN to a subtropical climate, bought a house in a metropolitan area (7 minute drive from the heart of downtown). Have a lake in the backyard with small mouth bass, tilapia, and blue gill. Turned a standard quarter acre lot of grass into a mulched food forest. then, built a roofwater harvesting system and dug in dripline to feed the emerging food forest.

                In the next 2 years I will have a Volt and get PV installed. All while paying down the mortgage rapidly. I live very frugally to save the money to make this happen; I do not make a great salary, but by the end of 2016 the monthly cost of maintaining my standard of living will be no more than $300. This will allow me to weather all kinds of economic hardship without any change to my lifestyle.

                This is the definition of resilience to me. I live the American Dream and it will cost no more than $4,000 a year to maintain. However, I don’t and won’t have kids, i have zero urge to waste money on vacations, I always prefer cooking to eating out, and I brew my own beer and wine instead of going to bars.

                To many that is not the American Dream, but to me it absolutely is.

                Hope this clarifies where I’m coming from with that statement about the Futurist Party.

            • Watcher says:

              There is no evidence that peer review of research in any field improves the quality of that research.

            • Old farmer mac says:

              ”Each environmental factor likely has a larger impact on whether intelligence develops than the genetic basis itself.”

              Maybe- maybe not. There is no question that environment determines the actual intellectual development of any given individual to some extent. There is also no question that genetics sets an upper limit on the potential intelligence of any given individual.

              Nobody disputes that we often inherit stronger hearts or bigger muscles or more efficient lungs than average or that some of us inherit a tendency to fall victim to various diseases.

              The only thing that we are not supposed to inherit is intelligence according to liberal dogma.

              I do not believe that there are wide variations between ethnic groups and races in terms of intelligence but I do believe there are wide variations between individuals and that they are mostly inherited.

              We breed horses for speed and cows for more milk and beef and dogs for intelligence. So far I am not aware of any good evidence that you cannot breed for just about any trait.I can’t see any reason at all why intelligence should be the one exception.

              Anybody who believes otherwise is just simply behind the times. Ron links to some of the best modern researchers somewhere down thread.

              Twins raised in very different environments generally turn out to be remarkably similar in measured intelligence. I interpret this as evidence that genetics determines intelligence to a greater extent than environment .

              So far it seems that twin studies have not found many if any cases where one twin scores noticeably lower but this could happen if the low scoring twin grows up in a tough enough environment.

              I did pretty well on standardized tests but I could have done a little better had I gone to a better school. There were math symbols on some of the tests I had never seen before and problems I could work as a senior having had another class that I could not work as a junior.

              I do not think I was ” more intelligent” in any fundamental sense just because I was a year older but having that additional year of physics and advanced math added fifty points to my math score.I didn’t even have to think about the answers, I had seen all the problems as homework exercises.

              And no my school did not teach to the test . This was back in the Dark Ages.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Old Farmer Mac,

                I don’t think a lot of intelligent liberals think that intelligence is not a heritable trait, they believe that environment influences one’s intellectual development.

                You seem to misunderstand some of the liberal dogma, but then I often misinterpret some of the conservative dogma. Generally there is a fair amount of overlap in the beliefs of intelligent conservatives and liberals, unfortunately politics seems to attract the dumber versions of both liberals and conservatives, leading many of the more intelligent people to stop listening, stop voting, or to vote for third party or independent candidates (which may be ok for a Congessman, but tends to end up being similar to not voting in most Senate elections and all Presidential elections for the past 50 years or so.

              • Ilambiquated says:

                Jared Diamond claims (in “Guns Germs and Steel”) that modern humans are mostly bred for good immune systems. Brains don’t help against viruses, and agriculture encourages high density living arrangements. So a stupid person with a good immune system has had a better survival chance that a smart person with a weak immune system for most of the past 4,000 years.

          • Watcher says:

            Mid 90s, a veritable funding avalanche for sociology research projects to rebut/debunk The Bell Curve.

            Proposals to explore studies that might be supportive — no money. Sorry, fresh out. Maybe next year. Please apply again.

            Read the rebuttal articles of how TBC noted that identical twins raised apart in households of widely divergent affluence seemed to score the same in IQ. The articles looked weak to me, but they did get celebrated.

          • Ilambiquated says:

            There is a logical problem with all those heredity vs environment arguments.

            Let’s say we have some performance measure M (like IQ) that we want to maximize, and we have two gene varieties (alleles) (G1 and G2) and to different environments E1 and E2.

            Obviously that gives us four different values, (G1,E1), M(G1,E2), M(G2,E1) and M(G2,E2). So we do a study and discover that as well as we can measure,

            M(G1, E1)=M(G2,E2)>M(G2, E1)=M(G1,E2)

            What would we conclude?

            And since there is more or less an infinite number of values for E, I prefer not to participate in that kind of argument.

            • There was once a study by the University of Minnesota of identical twins raised apart. The study was remarkable in showing just how much of human behavior is inherited. That study has been the subject of many books, some of which I have read. “Born That Way” by William Wright is one of the best on the subject.

              Also Steven Pinker had a chapter on the subject in “The Blank Slate”. If you are truly interested in the subject of “Genetics and Human Nature” you could do no better than watch a one hour and 25 minute video of Steve Pinker discussing the subject.
              Steven Pinker: Blank Slate

              Published on Feb 9, 2013
              Professor Pinker talked about his book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, published by Viking. In it, he describes three major theories that have shaped our understanding of human nature, including the idea that the mind is a “blank slate” shaped entirely by external influences. The theory of man as a “noble savage” and the theory that the human mind is independent of the body are also discussed. Professor Pinker argues that these theories are flawed and suggests that there is a genetic basis for human nature that all three theories ignore. He also addresses the backlash, from both the political left and right, to the idea that genes influence human nature and argues that the arguments these critics make are based on non-sequiturs. Professor Pinker took questions from the audience following his presentation.

              • Dave Ranning says:

                I highly recommend The Blank Slate.

              • Ilambiquated says:

                Yes, but there is no genetic variation between identical twins, so the study is irrelevant to my comment.

                I’m also a Pinker fan.

                • Your comment was:

                  M(G1, E1)=M(G2,E2)>M(G2, E1)=M(G1,E2)

                  What would we conclude?

                  This is something I should draw a conclusion from? This is some kind of an argument? Come on… you are just trying to pull my leg. 😮

                  • Ilambiquated says:

                    Not pulling anyone’s leg. Here’s an example. It doesn’t have to actually be true, it’s just an illustration of what could happen in theory.

                    According to my wife, in the 60s and 70s the boys were better in German primary and secondary schools than girls, and were more likely to go to college. Today, the girls are clearly better, and lots of boys are even having problems finishing school at all.

                    Her explanation is that the schools have changed, and there is less emphasis on competition and focusing on pure abstractions, and more emphasis on social interaction, good behavior and producing results in a given format. It has been a creeping change that nobody has even noticed.

                    As a result, boys seemed smarter in the 70s, but now girls seem smarter. This is an example where you are comparing different genes (male vs female) in different environments (70s schools vs teens schools).

                    The twin experiment cannot catch this because it only one variable. This is what I call the “partial differentiation fallacy”. Sometimes it is a good heuristic to simply remove some variables from a system to make it easier to understand. but sometimes removing variables distorts the results.

                    Jevon’s “paradox” is a good example of why you have to be careful about removing variables. It seems logical that replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs would save energy, because LEDs use less energy than bulbs, but Jevon pointed out there is another variable, gross demand, which could also be affected.

                    Another example of the partial differentiation fallacy is the Republican focus on reducing marginal tax rates while ignoring all other economic variables.

                    Game theory has been a big success in modern evolutionary biology. In this model, the gene variations are viewed as strategies, and evolutionary selection is the game. So you can compare (genetically) more aggressive butterflies to more careful butterflies and make predictions about how their reproductive success will be. turns out to depend on a lot of things, such as whether food resources come in clumps or are smoothly distributed.

                    You can’t order strategies from big to small the way you can order numbers. In fact you can write three computer programs that play tic tac toe such that A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A, like rock scissors, paper. The performance of the strategy depends on its environment.

                    One final note about genes: They are not blueprints, they are recipies. There is no reason to assume there is such a thing as a “smart” gene.

                    Let’s say I made delicious cookies, but I want them to be crunchier next time. What do I do? I might leave them in the oven longer, or maybe bake them at a higher temperature, or maybe add more egg, or less water. Also some combination of the above might be right, and others might backfire. There is no “crunchy” ingredient or process step.

                  • Ilambiquated, I have replied to your post at the bottom where there is more room.

            • Dave Ranning says:

              Epogenitics anyone?
              Nature and Nurture turn out to be the same.

              • Nature and Nurture turn out to be the same.

                No, just because genes, or gene expression, is turned on or off by your environment does not mean nature and nurture are the same thing. And Steven Pinker would agree. (I noticed you recommended him.) What religion you may belong to is almost certainly due to your environment, that is the religion you were brought up in. The tendency to be religious, or not religious, is far more nature than nurture. Which religion however is entirely nurture.

                If you are a psychopath however, you were likely born that way, born without a conscience.

                And I have read the Blank Slate. I highly recommend it also.

                • Fuser says:

                  I’m interested about this sentence… “The tendency to be religious, or not religious, is far more nature than nurture.”

                  Can you go into that a bit more or recommend literature about that comment?

                  • Ilambiquated says:

                    The Blank Slate, which is about the fact that you are not born with a blank slate.

                    By the way, this idea was invented by Noam Chomsky, the father of modern linguistics, who demonstrated (using mathematical logic) that it would be logically impossible for a child to learn a human language without innate knowledge about how human languages work, and assumptions about how humans interact.

                    The famous example is the gavagai problem. You are standing in a jungle and a rabbit runs by. A native whose language you can’t speak points at it and says “gavagai”.

                    Common sense tells you that gavagai means rabbit. But you can’t prove it. Chomsky realized that when children learn a language they have to jump to all kinds of conclusions.

                    Sounds trivial, but no one has come even close to programming a computer to do it yet.

                  • God Gene

                    The God gene hypothesis proposes that a specific gene (VMAT2) predisposes humans towards spiritual or mystic experiences. The idea has been postulated by geneticist Dean Hamer, the director of the Gene Structure and Regulation Unit at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and author of the 2005 book The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes.

                    Also Spirituality and Genetics

                    Twin studies conducted around the world in the U.S., the Netherlands and Australia as well as ours in the U.K. show a 40 to 50 percent genetic component to belief in God.

                    Just Google spirituality and genetics and get many of hits concerning studies of identical twins raised apart.

                    The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes is available from

                  • By the way, this idea was invented by Noam Chomsky,…

                    Not really:
                    ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ Debate It all began with Galton

                    The nature versus nurture debate has been a classic controversy among experts for centuries.

                • Dave Ranning says:

                  You are right Ron, but the lines are being somewhat blurred.
                  You obviously need the genes to begin with.

            • Fred Magyar says:

              “There is a logical problem with all those heredity vs environment arguments.”

              Not really! Here is a basic course with all lectures online at Yale University: Evolution, Ecology and Behavior with Stephen C. Stearns


              I think if you attend the course by watching all 36 lecture videos you might begin to understand! Note: I did say, ‘BEGIN’ to understand. The reason being, there is actually quite a lot to understand. I do highly recommend these lectures to anyone who wishes to discuss any topic related to evolution and is not a biologist well versed in genetics and evolutionary theory.


              • I watched about half of these a couple of years ago. I meant to finish but never did. Now I think I will but may just start over.

              • Ilambiquated says:

                I have a good understanding of evolutionary biology, but thanks.

                The problem I am referring to is a generic logical problem: When is it useful to ignore certain variables in a problem, and when is it counterproductive?

                My claim is that the whole nature/nurture argument is based on the assumption that you can simply ignore one of the two, but that this is obviously false. You cannot ignore either, so the entire discussion is nonsense.

                • Woah! The nature vs nurture problem does not assume you can ignore anything. Every aspect of nature and every aspect on nurture comes into play and any sociobiologists would insist this is the case.

                  Behaviorists, Skinner et al, all insist it is all environment. Sociobiologists, Wilson et al, insist it is both genes and environment.

                  Where on earth did you get the idea that that sociobiologists believed you could ignore anything?

                  I have been a student of this debate ever since it was started on the campus of Harvard university when one of Gould’s students dumped a pitcher of water over Wilson’t head when he was giving a speech. Sometimes, like that time, it does get a little ridiculous but is is never nonsense.

                  Gould, by the way, did not believe all human behavior was molded by the environment, only that intelligence was not in inherited. Which was most strange for an evolutionary biologist to believe such a thing. B.F. Skinner, (Walden II), believed all human behavior was molded by the environment.

                  By the way, if one is really interested in the author of “Sociobiology” and his story, you could do no better than watch this NOVA video:
                  Lord of the Ants

  25. DrTskoul says:

    I see free will as an emergent property of the system, the same as intelligence or life itself. There are no “rules” for free will, buy it is the result of the interactions between the atoms and the molecules and the cells etc etc. As such free will is different for the individual and different for the community, the country, the race, the species.

  26. Watcher says:

    Oooh, Libyan rebels declare they have Tripoli and they are the new gubmint.

    And the identity of fighter jets bombing Libya has been revealed, Egyptian and UAE. How cool is this?

    On the other hand, the UAE is a couple thousand miles from Tripoli, and fly mostly F-16s, which have a combat range of about 500 miles with the most modest of ordnance loads hanging on the wings making drag.
    Even with new conformal fuel tanks it’s pretty hard to nudge them up another 500 miles. Air to Air refueling? nada

    Egypt also flies F-16s. They’re up to block 52 now. Cairo to Tripoli — 1000+ miles.


    • Watcher says:

      Correction, UAE has a handful of refueling airbus tankers. So . . . maybe.

      • Watcher says:

        OTOH the refueling would have to be over KSA. Orrrr landed at a base in Egypt and refuel over eastern Libya. No way in hell they get away with that for long.

        Qatar will have some SAMs installed in Libya along the route in a fingersnap. Tankers don’t dodge SAMs too well.

    • Luís says:

      The UAE air force has about 70 Mirage 2000 with up-to-date avionics; this is a far superior aircraft with an operational range over 800 NM. The F16 would not be the primary choice for such a mission (not in the least because it was not conceived as an intermission aircraft).

      The Egyptian air force has 24 Mig-35, that can easily undertake such a mission without refuelling. They also have a dozen Mirage 2000.

  27. Ilambiquated says:

    Anyone care to comment on this?

    It’s not about Bakken, I know, except I guess this: “We do not see production declining in any of the other shale plays either.”

    • Watcher says:

      The RBN site is . . . weird. Not really suspect, just inconsistent.

    • toolpush says:


      RBN is just following the trend, which is there friend until it bends, as they say. ie they see growth continuing in the shale plays for quite some time, because that is what the industry folk are telling them. Whether the rosy picture turns out to be true, only time will tell.
      If money stays as cheap as it is now, then the refiners may have a problem finding capacity, but if the cost of money goes up or gets tight in any way, then bar the doors, because there could very well be a big rush to get out of town.

    • Dennis Coyne says:


      the US will not get to 12 Mb/d of C+C output, we might peak at 10 Mb/d tops.

      Second. refinery capacity is 15 Mb/d, much of this is heavy crude, it is very easy to swap the light crude for heavy crude if there is too much light crude for refineries to handle, this is not a problem.

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  29. lambiquated , well hell why didn’t you say that instead of trying to say it with equations?

    What you are saying is that there is, or may be, a testing anomaly between male and female. When the test changes over the years then the results change.

    This could very well be true but it doesn’t explain the Flynn effect where there is no difference between the sexes in taking the test. Also it does not invalidate any genetic effect whatsoever.

    • Old farmer mac says:

      This whole discussion started out as a discussion of the HERITABILITY of intelligence.

      All the comments that are trying to cast doubt on that heritability are off at a tangent discussing the effect of environment on intelligence as measured by conventional testing.

      Nobody with a bit of common sense would argue that an illiterate Einstein or a Chinese Einstein who has never seen a document in English would score as a cretin on an intelligence test administered in a public school in English.

      I used to be a teacher and have spent some time on testing issues and the relevance of grades and so forth and for what it is worth I do believe the Flynn effect is partly real and partly the result of inadequate adjustment (reforming) of old statistics in comparing them with newer statistics.

      We must remember however that intelligence tests simply cannot measure raw intelligence the way an engineer could test the capacity of a new computer chip.Intelligence as a practical matter is a combination of potential which is inherited and accomplishment which is determined by environment.

      Any body who does not get this is too stupid to understand why dogs can’t be taught calculus.A dog simply doesn’t possess the potential to learn it.

      An ordinaryily gifted human might earn a degree in math by busting his butt twelve hours a day studying. The guys who wound up doing doctorates in math took one look at a problem that used to take me a couple of hours and solved it in their head in a minute or two.They didn’t learn to do that, they just have better brains in that respect than I do.I used to solve geometry problems in high school in a minute that took everybody else except one girl ten or twenty minutes. She solved them in half the time I could and as a result I hated her guts.That is pretty much the nature of human beings of course.

      Nowadays I am grown up and when I ran into her at a class reunion we had a great visit.

      I am at the one in fifty or a maybe a little better level in math talent- or used to be. The guys in my undergrad classes who went on in math were at the one in a hundred or one in a thousand level.

      There is no way no matter how hard I might have worked at it I could ever have gotten into grad school at a truly elite university such as MIT or Caltech in math. I wasn’t born with the brain to do it.

      That level is probably at the one in ten thousand range or even higher.

      But we should never forget Twain’s little story about the impoverished shoemaker in Heaven.

      In Heaven all the generals who are super famous such as Napoleon and Lee have to wait on him as orderlies-forever- since he had the talent to be the greatest general of all but no opportunity to prove it.

      Environment does count but heredity sets the limits.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Mac,

        It is strange how two people can read the same comments and get different impressions,

        I think everyone agrees that intelligence is a heritable trait.

        I guess unless others say that this is the key to intelligence you won’t be satisfied, most think that environment plays a role in intellectual development, nobody is arguing that there not differences in inherited abilities of every sort, including intelligence.
        The vast majority of people are of average intelligence (though everyone thinks that they are above average), for those people opportunities for education and there learning environment make a difference.

        Maybe it is a conservative dogma that liberals think that only environment matters concerning intelligence, there have not been any comments that I have read that have argued that position, perhaps I have missed them.

        • Techsan says:

          A professor of mine, who did some serious separated-twins studies of the issue, had a nice summary:

          The answer to the nature-versus-nurture question is, of course, that it is both. But the bottom line is that it’s about 60 percent nature, 40 percent nurture.

          • Ilambiquated says:

            If environmental differences are small, hereditary differences dominate.

    • Ilambiquated says:

      The test is more or less the same. It was the training method that changed.

  30. Ronald Walter says:

    Maybe an asteroid ten kilometers by ten kilometers by ten kilometers that is filled to the brim with oil will make a soft landing on the earth and all of our troubles will be over. Oil from space would be much cleaner and be usable with no refining necessary.

    It’ll be the cream of the crop.

    Except for Atrazine, which needs to be banned, then after that, and with an entirely new oil supply to lift us from the lower rungs of the hell we all live in today, life will be much better and the world will finally be the place to be.

    I won’t hold my breath and I won’t stand on one leg.

    Another ten thousand wells in the Bakken will increase the per well daily production from 96 to 96.1.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Ronald,

      In June 2014 the per well rate in the North Dakota Bakken was about 130 b/d/well, there were about 7900 producing wells and about 7400 of these wells have been completed since Jan 2008.

      If we take the data that Enno Peters has shared and assume the average well declines exponentially from year 7 at 10% per year we get a very conservative EUR estimate of 300 kb after 20 years with wells producing at about 7 b/d at the end of year 20 where we can assume they are abandoned.

      If another 2600 wells are completed that gets us to 10,000 Bakken wells since 2008 and if these 10,000 wells behave on average like the first 6000 wells drilled they will produce at least 3 Gb of oil.

      Note that the b/d/well does not enter into this calculation in any way, that figure is likely to decrease over time.

      If another 10,000 wells are drilled and the sweet spots run out of room (which is likely to happen by the time we reach 10,000 wells and perhaps before), then the average EUR will be lower, let’s assume the average is 200 kb/d for the second 10,000 wells. that would lead to another 2 Gb for a total of 5 Gb. Note that the NDIC expects about 40,000 wells, I think 20,000 to 30,000 is a better guess. If Jean Laherrere’s 4 Gb estimate is correct, perhaps there will be fewer wells drilled or the EUR will decrease more quickly than I have guessed.

      Unless oil prices drop by 20 to 30%, we will not see a peak in the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks before 2016 and late 2017 is my best guess. Note that I define peaks as 12 month averages, month to month fluctuations are of less importance.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Mistake above:

        “assume the average is 200 kb/d for the second 10,000 wells”, should be

        “assume the average is 200 kb for the second 10,000 wells”, sorry for the poor editing

        • Ronald Walter says:

          A TF well that had an initial production of four hundred barrels per day is now in steep decline, What was 4 is now 1, even less. I don’t see how it can improve when it is losing 75 percent of production in less than 5 years.

          40,000 wells that have a decline rate of 25 to 30 percent each year and then produce 1/4 after four years of what the initial production rate was is not going to be a profitable venture unless oil hits 150 plus, which the producers probably are hoping to happen because the amounts of oil that are flowing into the wells are less than expected. Maybe in Mountrail, Williams, and McKenzie counties the production has higher initial rates, however, they still decline. The reality speaks much louder than the words.

          I see a decline rate of production at 80 percent and then falling some more, bit by bit, in less than 5 years. Thems the facts, Jack.

          If 40,000 wells are completed, at the end of the day, the production will be at or less than one million barrels per day and more wells will have to be drilled to increase daily production. It is a heavy grind and the millstone will wear out in time, the hamster in the wheel syndrome. Over time, I predict that the average daily production per well will be at 25 bpd if the current drilling program continues unabated, no matter what is done to improve well production. The drilling and completion of wells is here to stay for the next 50 plus years, guaranteed. At first, I thought that the well completions would stop at 40,000 and hold a 100 bpd average for a daily production of 4 million bpd, but I see no way that it can be judging from the numbers I see. Decline rates are too steep and present a huge problem. Not that the optimism switched to pessimism, the optimistic side became less, and the pessimistic side increased more.

          There is no way out except to drill for more. It would be nice to be able to store more than is used, but then you are still going to have to pay something just to have inventory, so that won’t work. You have to sell to stay in bidness. Plenty of buyers, millions if not several billions, so it is an easy sell.

          The 110,000 well scenario over a 60 to 80 year period of drilling and completions will have to be the first order of business for the production to remain at one million bpd. It will have to happen or it goes bust. The Bakken depocenter is in North Dakota, right where the White Earth Valley is located, more or less, and then across the river into McKenzie County. Lots of the Bakken in southern Canada in Saskatchewan, some of Manitoba, and some in Alberta, so there is going to be a plethora of Bakken formation wells well into the future and probably the total count will be 250,000, one per square mile average for the total area mapped.

          Money will have to flow to the Bakken constantly. Probably what Wall Street likes and wants the mostest.

          Steep decline rates and depletion are their best friends.

          The Bakken is at peak now and will remain there.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Ronald,

            Keep in mind that the Bakken/Three forks is not uniform, some areas are more productive than others, this is true of all oil fields, both conventional and non-conventional (or continuous).

            The average estimated ultimate recovery(EUR) per well will decrease over time as the more productive areas (sweet spots) run out of room for new wells. So 30,000 to 40,000 wells is likely to be the limit unless oil prices increase by much more than the EIA estimates (in the Annual Energy Outlook).

            The decline rates start out about 60% for year 1, but they decrease over time to 9 or 10% per year, see chart below.

      • Mike_M says:

        “If another 10,000 wells are drilled and the sweet spots run out of room (which is likely to happen by the time we reach 10,000 wells and perhaps before)”

        Can you maybe explain this statement a little more especially the bold part? Because I can assure you people actually working in the oil patch (including my neighbors and geologist associate at the UofM) are following a way different set of logic–you have to keep in mind thanks to all the wells that have been drilled to hold leases, we can be pretty sure the productive portion of the Bakken-Three Forks in North Dakota totals about 11,000 sq mi. Among that the sweetest spots are going to be about 4,500 sq mi. The remaining 6,500 sq mi or so will not be as sweet, but not bad either, there will still many many wells in this area.

        Consider that there will be wells drilled in the Middle Bakken and three benches of the Three Forks. Ultimately there will be more Three Forks wells than Bakken wells but a lot of people here seem not to realize that. When the first round of drilling is over in the 4,500 sq mi sweet spot each 1280 acre spacing unit is being set up to have 8 producing wells per productive layer. So the entire DSU is going to have 32 wells. 1280 is the same as 2 sq mi, thus 32 wells for every 2 sq mi or 16 wells per sq mi. Do the math and we’ll end up with 72,000 wells in that 4,500 sq mi sweet spot after maybe 40 more years of drilling (which is what the government officials, developers and accountants are planning for, btw.)

        As for the 6,500 sq mi not as sweet spots, again this area is still good enough that many wells will still be drilled here. Probably something more like 4 wells per producing layer here, so 16 wells per 2 sq mi spacing unit or 8 wells per sq mi. Over a 6,500 sq mi area, that will end up with 52,000 wells in about 40 years.

        Add 52,000 to 72,000 and you can see that we will need about 125,000 wells for full development. But we still may need more than that over another 40 years depending on the amount of surface area each well drains. I mean if you have 32 wells in one spacing unit what’s to say in 40 years you won’t need another 32 wells drilled in the areas not drained by the original 32 wells? Again this is why everybody is calling this a generational play because drilling is going to span several generations.

        Once again the estimates of total recovery mentioned on this website do not match up with the current realities of drilling. The USGS estimates were probably all right when they were released but things change so fast, when the USGS was making there estimate industry had not yet fully realized that the three benches of the Three Forks were each as big as the Bakken above them. We now understand this and that the entire reservoir contains about 1 trillion barrels of oil in place, but the USGS study is outdated by now and has not been updated to reflect this. Privately people within the industry also tell me that the USGS did a poor job of delineating the sweet spots. The “assessment units” they used don’t match the reality of where the best, good, and so-so wells actually are. You are better off using the data the NDGS has analyzed of well percentiles by production or even the GIS mapping data posted on this blog.

        I hear a lot of mention here in Montana that the ultimate recovery of the Bakken and Three Forks after maybe 60 years is going to be closer to 35-45 billion barrels and that’s before any kind of EOR work is taken place. With a one trillion bbl reservoir 35-45 billion barrels is still just a small fraction under 5% of recovery so EOR has the potential to add several billions more to the recovery.

        Just for your own kicks I wish you would run your model to take into account 120,000 total wells (2,500 wells each year, what the NDIC is estimating) and 35-45 billion barrel recovery in 60 years. See what you come up with. Because right now the predictions on this blog are looking more and more unrealistic considering what is actually happening on the ground. You wouldn’t even have to modify your peak oil beliefs, even I realize that the Bakken and Three Forks is never going to be much of a savoir in a context of worldwide oil consumption. Even if production reaches 2 million b/d which I believe will probably happen by 2020 give or take a year or two that is ultimately only a fraction of the USA’s total daily consumption and an even smaller portion of the world’s consumption.

        I think the real problem is a lot of the people here can’t or won’t believe that a resource as tremendous as the Bakken-Three Forks could have been discovered in this day and age. We had gone so many years without any humongous discoveries that when another North Slope gets found its easy to not believe at first. I think this is still clouding a lot of peoples judgement and why you see dismissive statements of decline rate this, red queen that, all of the drillers are in debt, the Bakken-Three Forks is going to decline as fast as it peaked and the peak is going to happen in the next year, and on and on and on. You all are not really looking at the big picture of the implications of discovering here in the 21st century an oil and gas super giant on the scale of the Permian basin.

        • Watcher says:

          No predictions have value. Including yours.

          These multi TF layers are fracked with one well, you realize, and the latest data says those wells doing multi layer fracking did not produce very effectively.

          BTW, with water cuts of 8 and 9:1, where did you plan to drill disposal wells for the water coming out of 110,000 production wells? You could certainly truck it farther away. The Teamsters should be arriving up there soon.

          • Mike_M says:

            Not sure if you realize but each of the dots on the investor presentations that show planned well placement and spacing represents a different well. Look at Continental’s presentation proposing many individual wells in each of the Three Forks benches. With this kind of development this is how you will get more Three Forks wells than Bakken wells.

            • Dennis Coyne says:

              Hi Mike,

              I have seen these presentations, but so far we have seen very little NDIC data that backs up these claims. These trials are done in the sweetest of the sweet spots and the results cannot be extended to the entire play.

            • Watcher says:

              Dood, that was not a response.

              And look at your own diagram. You are showing layer thicknesses of 60-70 feet. You do realize fracturing is 3D? Extends up and down? Those layers were mined by previous wells.

        • Enno says:

          Hi Mike,

          It’s always good to see some opposite viewpoints here, so thanks.

          Do you have some data to back up your claim on 4500 sqm sweet area, for all the 4 layers(MB and TF123)?


        • Mike_M says:

          Enno to answer your question the work of the NDGS– on there downloads on that page. Also many of the investor presentations from the companies who are doing the drilling out there and best understand the geology they are working with. Tried my best to extract some of the graphics they have. You might have to view the image individually in a new tab or window?

          Or google for the investment sections of some of these companies. I looked at the Continental, Whiting, Marathon, Oasis and Concophillips presentations. You could also go see what EOG, Hess, Halcon, WPX, Statoil, Newfield, etc. have to say.

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Mike_M,

          I am basing my analysis in part on the USGS April 2013 assessment.

          The first point is that most of the producing wells so far have been in the Bakken. Of 6670 completed wells from Jan 2008 to Feb 2014, only 31 wells were completed in the Three Forks (this does not include confidential wells) based on NDIC data. So guessing output from Three Forks wells is highly speculative.

          Based on the data we have, the average well for the 2008 to 2013 period has and Estimated EUR of 380 kb, a very conservative estimate assuming 17% exponential decline after year 6 yields an EUR of 300 kb per well. Three Forks wells will likely be only about 200 kb in the sweet spots and not every Three Forks bench will be of the same quality.

          Don’t believe the hype. There is not likely to be more than 30,000 wells drilled in the Bakken/Three Forks, many of the “potential” Three Forks wells will not be profitable to drill. I could be too conservative but I think 9 Gb is the likely URR with as low as 6 Gb and as high as 12 Gb (if I am wrong about the Three Forks potential only being about 15,000 wells at 200 kb/well or about 3 Gb.)

        • Dennis Coyne says:

          Hi Mike,

          I have actually done some of these extreme models, 35 Gb is just not believeable, the NDIC is predicting more like 14 Gb, I run mu model with about 2000 wells per year added.


          Note to everyone the chart below was an April Fool’s Joke, but nobody got it (not very funny.)

  31. Edgy says:

    Unintended consequences?
    Grain Piles Up, Waiting for a Ride, as Trains Move North Dakota Oil

    I wonder about the 400 million investment and how long oil in such amounts will continue and require that many rail lines and cars in ND.
    From where will the outcry come, or will it…. food or energy? Pick one.

    • Old farmer mac says:

      Anybody remember MA KIP commandeering the trains to haul the soybeans in Atlas Shrugged?

      She mismanaged the job and the beans rotted any way because they were harvested too soon.

      Hopefully things will go better than they did in the book.Lol

      But given that the collapse of business as usual is now baked in I expect many similar and equally catastrophic mistakes to be made.Hopefully we will manage well enough here in yankee land that we won’t starve. Not many of us anyway.

      • Dave Ranning says:

        I kinda liked Ayn Rand when I was 16.
        You could be a hero for being a total asshole, and that is very cool when you are 16!
        However, simple ideas by simpletons, as one ages, become apparent.

        • robert wilson says:

          Rand clearly recognized during the 50’s that energy was the key resource. Unfortunately, the energy source that she had John Galt invent seemed – at least to me – to be arguably a perpetual motion machine and probably unworkable.

          • Dave Ranning says:

            Delusion was the paradigm of our libertarian friends.
            Libertarians are just anarchists on training wheels for the hight cognitive.

        • Old farmer mac says:


          Having gotten that out of the way it is pretty obvious that you have either forgotten what Rand got right or don’t want to remember.

          She anticipated the liberated woman with brains, power, influence and self confidence.

          Dagny busted right thru the glass ceiling and when the time came she told the world she could and would have sex with any body she damn well pleased and it was nobody’s business but her own and her lover’s.

          I have no knowledge of any novelist from an earlier time easily found in most libraries that got this right ahead of Rand.

          Beyond that she anticipated the never ending bailouts that threaten to break us today.

          She anticipated problems involving energy shortages and anticipated technological breakthroughs that in retrospect are pretty tame in comparison to what has actually come to pass. Getting oil out of the pre salt offshore Brazil is kind of impressive compared to fracking in my opinion at least. She provided no details but her oil man got the job done in exhausted old fields or whatever.

          She anticipated one of the major problems we have today in that the people with money and power (you can read here major energy companies and monster banks in particular ) using political means to block any new competition from entering the market.The whole book revolves in a major way around the efforts of the other steel companies to keep Reardon steel off the market.

          I could go on but it would be pointless since every liberal I have ever met excepting one has condemned her work without reading it.

          She really ought to be read as an anti utopian rather than a mouthpiece for capitalism. Her lesser known novels will keep you awake at night in a way that Brave New World and 1884 can’t. I have read them too.

          There is such a thing as artistic license which is familiar to liberal thinkers who want to talk about such works of art as Piss Christ. Somehow it doesn’t exist when they talk about Rand.

          Incidentally I am on record as being in favor of strong environmental regulation, renewable energy, socialized medicine, etc. That just might be interpreted as an indication I am a liberal myself.

          It just MIGHT BE worth considering that Rand had actual personal experience with soviet totalitarian government at a time when the leftie intellectuals had their heads entirely out of sight up Stalin’s ass.

          The ones who were the most ardent in condemning Rand back then are the very ones inescapably on record as praising heaven on earth in the land of the Gulag.

          As it happens I have read the Gulag Archipelago too.

          Too much capitalism is definitely not good for the people or the environment but Stalin and Hitler to my mind are pretty good evidence that too much government may very well equally bad or maybe even worse.

          Of course since the leftie intellectuals controlled most of the academic scene in her time involving the soft sciences they won the battle in terms of her reputation as a writer. That reputation will never change in the leftie world view and that alone is enough to guarantee that equally narrow minded right wingers will always defend her without acknowledging her shortcomings.

          A person with critical reading skills can read a novel and judge it on it’s merits rather than it’s use as a political tool.

          For what it is worth I condemn right wingers in equally vinegary terms for reading Rand as a good philosopher.

          She is a pretty good and extremely important novelist if wordy and with a rather lame prose style but as a philosopher she sucks.Big time squared.

          As a social and economic pundit she ranks with the best.

          • Doug Leighton says:


            Good review(s), professional in fact. You’re a man of many talents. I do have one question: Do you consider Ayn Rand a bit too wordy? [insert a yellow face here]


          • Dave Ranning says:

            Yes, we must bow to our Galtian Overlords.
            I just find her simple, and recently visiting her writing again, not that impressive of a writer.

            But we all like different flavors, so to each his or her own.

            Your point of a liberated women is well taken, something I had not considered.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Mac,

            I have read a few of Rand’s works, they seemed pretty good at the time.

            I agree with much of your view of her work and the problems of totalitarianism.

            The shortcoming in her work in my view is that she seemed to think that a perfectly competitive market would be a utopia (or as close as we could get). A corollary of this view is that any government regulation is likely to do more harm than good and that it is always best to have less government involvement in the economy rather than more.

            This would work just fine if there were never severe recessions or financial crises, no externalities, no natural monopolies, etc.

            That is not the World we live in and her novels seem to miss this, but I have not read much of her work so I may have this wrong.

            Reasonable liberals and reasonable conservatives would agree that capitalism is great, and they might even agree that some government regulation and intervention in the economy is necessary. The disagreement is mostly over how much is too much, here is where the reasonable people on each side were able to come to a compromise, but those people have left the political scene for the most part and we are in the era of no compromise.

            • Fred Magyar says:

              “Reasonable liberals and reasonable conservatives would agree that capitalism is great, and they might even agree that some government regulation and intervention in the economy is necessary.”

              There are a few of us here and there that might disagree with that statement!


              Ideologies and religions

              Ideologies and religions are systems of thought that shape and decide the way persons and groups of persons think and act.
              Ideologies and religions don’t necessarily first and foremost respect conditions for description, and hereby logical relations and facts, but are also often the expression of subjective opinions, social conventions and habitual conceptions. Because subjective opinions, social conventions and habitual conceptions are not necessarily in compliance with conditions for description, religious and ideological assertions are often a mixture of right assertions and wrong assertions.
              This is a fundamental problem that is shared by for example ideologies like representative democracy, anarchism, neo-liberalism, communism, capitalism, nazism, and religions like christianity, hinduism, judaism, islam, etc.
              Experience tells us that religions and ideologies usually don’t first and foremost aim to respect conditions for description and hereby the logical relation between persons and persons’ rights.
              Persons might have personal reasons to believe in ideologies or religions, but ideologies and religions that don’t first and foremost aim to respect persons’ rights, should never be used as the basis of political action, because the fundamental purpose of politics is to protect the rights of persons.
              Instead of using ideologies and religions as the basis of political action, persons ought to use conditions for description as the basis of politics and thereby first and foremost try to respect persons’ rights.

              • Dennis Coyne says:

                Hi Fred,

                You lost me. Are you saying that there should be no government regulations? And if there is a severe economic recession that the government should do nothing?

                I care little about ideologies or religions and am not quite sure what you disagree with. Whose rights are we talking about here? There will always be conflicts over rights, that is what politics is mostly about.

                • Fred Magyar says:

                  I care little about ideologies or religions and am not quite sure what you disagree with.”

                  Yet you say Capitalism is great. Capitalism just happens to be the ideology that currently shapes our political reality. Personally I see very little that is so great about it. Granted my point was philosophical and I was referencing this guy’s thinking:

                  2000 YEARS OF FALLACIES
                  Peter Zinkernagel interviewed by N55


                  • I am curious Fred. What would be your alternative to Capitalism? And would you consider that alternative an ideology?

                  • Dennis Coyne says:

                    Hi Fred,

                    Now I get it, capitalism may not be great, but it seems better to me than any other system that has been tried so far, when properly regulated and when a central government is able to step in when the economy tanks, it is the best system that we are likely to get in the sense of maximum freedom and individual rights.

                    Perfect? Far from it. Better than any other system in the real world? Very likely, at least in my opinion.

                    You are right that this is an ideology.

                  • Fred Magyar says:


                    I am curious Fred. What would be your alternative to Capitalism? And would you consider that alternative an ideology?”

                    LOL! If I had a real answer to that question I’d either be up for a Nobel peace prize or I would be considered public enemy #1 by the 1% and would quickly be burned at the stake…

                    If I were to attempt to venture an answer, Probably some sort of non ideological anarchism built upon a biophysical steadystate economic system, which I’m not sure humans in there current state of evolution are quite ready for and very possibly might never be. Could ‘Non Ideological Anarchism’ be considered an ideology? Dunno! Many of our fellow humans can’t seem to grasp that atheism isn’t a religion either >;-)

                    In any case, my main objection to Capitalism and all the other ‘Isms’, as well as most religions is that they do one thing really really well, they concentrate power in the hands of the few at the detriment of the many. I personally think that capitalism and the infinite growth paradigm, have considerably exacerbated our problems such as ecological overshoot, climate change, peak resources,etc…

                    Perhaps this excerpt from my link above might clarify a bit further: 2000 YEARS OF FALLACIES Peter Zinkernagel

                    “If we accept that the only thing we know about politics is that it should respect the rights of persons and that we should try to organise the smallest concentrations of power possible, no one can predict the possibilities that might unfold, since we thereby would change the foundations of our evaluations, again leading to a change in what is conceived as politically possible. The same instance as it becomes clear to the population that power must be limited, the options for organization and collaboration will also automatically change.
                    It can be argued that this is remote and unrealistic idealism – there are no other arguments – but what are today regarded as political realities are things that are based on other ideals, such as that power is the real reality, we are all subjugated to mechanisms of power, this is the way we are; and thereby one overlooks the fact that a change in the basic valuations is the important thing. All I am doing is directing attention at something that everybody is capable of understanding: the difference between respecting power, and the opposite. You don’t have to be a professor to be able to see that. If everybody realizes this, nobody knows what will happen, because we have no precedents. We would know what the task was about – to reduce concentrations of power as much as possible – and no one would know how. Thus far all we have known has been based on other concepts, for example, that we knew what was politically possible – that is what is understood by political realities – and it is precisely those that are so complex and impossible to grasp.”


                  • Brian Rose says:

                    When someone says “Capitalism is great” it doesn’t necessarily demonstrate an ideology.

                    Ideology/religion is a shorthand, efficient communication of a much longer phrase: the act of blindly holding something as being an absolute truth that therefore cannot be critically examined, questioned, or modified by empirical data or evidence under any circumstances.

                    Just as the word “ideology” is shorthand for a more robust statement, “Capitalism” is shorthand. Otherwise, we would all be like Ents and it would take 3 hours to hold a one paragraph long conversation.

                    “Capitalism is great” CAN be an ideological statement, but in my experience the people here use critical thinking skills, question and test concepts through evidence, and see that all things are made of shades of grey instead of the typical black/white views of ideologues.

                    “Capitalism is great” is likely shorthand for a much longer and nuanced statement since “Capitalism” in practice involves allowing economic incentive to play out freely within the vessel of a properly regulated environment.

                    The only ideology here is the assumption that someone saying “Capitalism is great” must mean they are for monopolies and unregulated financial instruments so long as the market freely creates them. Even Adam Smith himself stated a number of areas where government involvement was deemed necessary for truly healthy society.

                    Ideology is like applying a hammer to not only a nail, but also to a screw and a bolt. People here tend to get that different problems require different tools to be most effective. Free markets work wonders for properly pricing the supply/demand of resources, especially compared to artificial government set prices for goods.

                    Government works wonders for funding high cost/low return projects like R&D into new antibacterial drugs. No new antibacterial drugs are in the pipeline because they have low returns compared to, say, a new cholesterol drug. To prevent resistance new drugs are prescribed only i the rarest of cases (low demand), and eventually they become useless due to resistance (short product lifespan) where the same billion dollars put into a blood pressure drug will see high demand and last indefinitely since blood pressure doesn’t evolve resistance.

                    Many problems are handled well by economic incentives organically produced by the free market. Some problems are not, and those are the areas where government should be involved either directly (through R&D) or indirectly (through regulation that incentivizes the free market). Another perfect example being externalized costs like pollution. Without regulation polluting a river has zero cost impact on a business and is therefore done freely. It is the governments job to incentivize businesses to properly process and dispose of waste streams.

                  • Fred Magyar says:


                    “When someone says “Capitalism is great” it doesn’t necessarily demonstrate an ideology.”

                    Whether someone thinks Capitalism is great or not, doesn’t change the simple fact that ‘Capitalism’ by definition IS an ideology.

                    “An ideology is a set of conscious and/or unconscious ideas which constitute one’s goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology is a comprehensive normative vision, a way of looking at things, as argued in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), and/or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a “received consciousness” or product of socialization), as suggested in some Marxist and Critical theory accounts. While the concept of “ideology” describes a set of ideas broad in its normative reach, an ideology is less encompassing than as expressed in concepts such as worldview, imaginary and ontology.

                    Ideologies are systems of abstracted meaning applied to public matters, thus making this concept central to politics. Implicitly, in societies that distinguish between public and private life, every political or economic tendency entails an ideology, whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.”

                    Source Wikipedia

                  • wimbi says:

                    Fred. good to see that you too are working toward that Nobel in economic theory.

                    I have spent at least a couple of hours of quality time on this little problem and so have an answer that looks good to me, a former not so successful CEO of a little R&D company.

                    Next step in Capitalism- Simple, just make the first sentence in the incorporation paper, not “for the benefit of the stockholders’ but instead “to make the world a better place” and go on from there as usual.

                    And the state permits any citizen at any time to put a case against any corporation which can be shown to be not doing that.

                    Of course, this automatically kills all fossil fuel companies, so that alone gives me my Nobel.

                    See ya in Stockholm.

          • DaShui says:

            Rand ended up on social security and i think medicare towards the end of her life. That’s the irony with radical individualism, you can’t have it without ending up dependent on the state.

            • Dave Ranning says:

              Capitalism has never existed without a strong State to enforce its rules, from its emergence in the 15th Century City States of Italy, to its neoliberal global model of the present.
              Legal violence is its main weapon.

              • Brian Rose says:

                I think what he’s getting at is that when we’re on top and things are working out we tend to think other people should just do what we did – put in effort and succeed.

                We then view anyone who is not succeeding as a lazy person who found it’s less work to just have the government give you things.

                The problem is that most people getting government assistance aren’t lazy do nothings who are ok with the meager existence provided by social programs. Most people put in effort to succeed in life, but unforseen circumstances make them fall. Some people hit the right notes at the right time, and once you’ve made it it is hard to truly fall. Other people get smacked by several set backs at once, and the cumulative effect is that you have no means of getting back on your feet without help. All it takes in the first years of making it on your own is a few minor setbacks happening in sequence, and suddenly a productive go-getter is destitute.

                I’m about to get a great promotion at work, but a medical issue pops up, I’m out of work for 8 weeks, eat through my savings, and the economy is going into recession, so I’m the first one laid off. The people with fortunate timing are blind to how much of their success can be attributed to fortunate timing, and equally blind to how a few unforeseen problems at the right times could have radically changed their future, regardless of how smart of productive they are.

                All success and failure is a blend between the intentional aspects of planning and hard work, and the unintentional winds of luck. Many successful people are very humble because they see that they had a number of fortunate occurrences, as well as a lack of unfortunate ones.

                I’ve seen numerous people taking advantage of various welfare programs because they’re genuinely lazy people who want an easy ride, even if it isn’t a luxurious one. It happens, and it happens a lot. BUT I’ve also known many people who had a streak of bad luck, and without social programs would never have gotten back on their feet to become the tremendous successes they are today. There is a certain point that once several fits of bad luck hit in rapid fashion it snowballs and you’re SOL.

                Just my two cents.

  32. We may be at Peak Oil but we are definitely not at Peak Ebola:
    CDC Director On Ebola: ‘We Are Definitely Not At The Peak’

    He emphasized that the toll is “far larger than has been recorded, not because they are trying to hide anything but because they are really overwhelmed by these numbers.” Beyond this, he said, the cases “are increasing at an extremely quick rate, and this is very alarming.”

    As bad as the Ebola situation is, Frieden warned that the worst is yet to come. “Unfortunately, we are definitely not at the peak. It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “The real question is how much worse will it get? How many more people will be infected and how much more risk to the world will there be?”

    There are likely at least twice as many infections and deaths as reported. The people fear the authorities and hide their sick and bury their dead in private.

    13 have died in the Congo of a totally unrelated outbreak of Ebola. There could be an outbreak of Ebola in animals in Africa. People eat the animals and get Ebola. It is usually spread by fruit bats who seem to show no symptoms when they carry the virus. Fruit bats are eaten by the people also.

    Ebola outbreak: ‘It’s even worse than I’d feared’

    On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health for the Democratic Republic of Congo notified WHO of another possible Ebola outbreak.

    Health officials say a woman in the Central African country became ill with symptoms of Ebola after butchering a bush animal that had been given to her by her husband. She died on August 11. Since then health care workers, relatives and other individuals who came in contact with her body have developed symptoms and died.

    Between July 28 and August 18, a total of 24 suspected cases of an unidentified hemorrhagic fever, including 13 deaths, have been identified, WHO said.

    • Watcher says:

      When there is a case on an offshore platform in Nigerian waters, that will push the applecart over globally.

    • Ebola spreads to Nigeria oil hub Port Harcourt

      Nigeria has confirmed its first Ebola death outside Lagos – a doctor in the oil hub of Port Harcourt.

      His wife has been put under quarantine, while a further 70 people in the city are under surveillance.

      Latest figures show more than 1,550 people have died of Ebola, with at least 3,000 confirmed cases – mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

      The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the total number of cases could potentially exceed 20,000.

      In an action plan to deal with the outbreak, the WHO said that “the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported” in some areas.

      Speaking to reporters, the WHO assistant director-general, Bruce Aylward, said the possibility of 20,000 cases “is a scale that I think has not ever been anticipated in terms of an Ebola outbreak”.

      With 3,000 confirmed cases and likely several times that many unconfirmed cases they haven’t a clue as to when this outbreak will even slow down. This thing is getting really scarey.

    • Brian Rose says:

      If it weren’t for the superstitious beliefs, refusal to listen to medical staff or government recommendations then this outbreak would have wound down weeks ago.

      But when people distrust the doctors and government (for good reason since they’ve been lied to a lot by their governments), then they continue the practices that are basically ideal for spreading Ebola. They storm clinics, “save” their relatives, carry back the dead for burial rituals that involve pretty much everyone touching the infected, contagious body.

      Ebola is very, very difficult to spread if a few basic procedures are done since it only spreads after onset of symptoms. It could never be a problem in the developed world unless it mutated. Unfortunately, the more it spreads the more opportunity their is for mutation.

      It’s just sad that this outbreak is getting this bad due purely to superstition and a refusal to listen to highly qualified medical experts. Just don’t touch the bodily fluids of those clearly displaying symptoms and it stops immediately. Instead, they invade clinics, go back to their village with the dead, and basically have a party where everyone touches the contagious body. It’s like they got together and decided to do every possible thing you could do to spread a disease that is actually pretty hard to spread.

  33. Enno says:

    Based on the info from Wes regarding formation data for ND wells, I was able to analyze the difference in well performance between Middle Bakken (MB) wells and Three Fork (TF) wells. See below the result.
    It looks like the quality of Three Fork wells have made more improvement in the last few years, but their performance is still 20-30% lower than Middle Bakken wells.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Very nice Enno, thanks!

      Of the 7900 or so wells in the Bakken/Three Forks. What is the split percentage wise between MB and TF wells over the 2010 to 2014 period (or by year would be better, but I will take what I can get).

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Enno,

        I remembered incorrectly, it is 2011 to 2014 that is of interest because the 2011 to 2014 TF wells look pretty similar on your chart so my 2010 to 2014 request above shoulb be replaced with 2011 to 2014 and the split of MB to TF wells averaged over the entire period and perhaps 2011 compared to 2014 to see the change (if any over time).

        My expectation is that as space in the MB sweet spots runs out we may see a higher percentage of TF wells over time.


        • Watcher says:

          It is quite surprising that the first year of production of all these initial years of operation do not change much as stage count has increased and technique improved. One could make a case for stage count offsetting less sweet spots, but if so that is happening in a very precise way. Suspicious.

          Orrr, the numbers are largely bogus / redefined per inclusion of API>45 liquids of a careful amount to hold the numbers equivalent to previous year numbers and thus attract no attention.

          What would be particularly useful to know is when the salt encrustation of the well starts to assert itself, requiring frequent washing with biocide laced fresh water to dissolve the encrustation. 100 barrels per day is 3 gallons per minute. That’s about half a typical garden hose flow rate. It won’t take much salt to slow that.

          BTW, the on site tanks filling up 100 barrels/day are going to fill 900 barrels per day of salty water.

        • Enno says:

          Hi Dennis,

          Excellent question. Here a stacked graph that should clarify that. It shows indeed a trend that is starting to unfold : an increasing % of Three Forks wells in ND, compared with (higher performing) Middle Bakken wells in 2013 over 2012. My guess is that this will show up in decreasing new well output in the coming years, as this % further increases. MB wells on average produce 20-40% more compared with TF wells, in 2013 and 2014.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            Hi Enno,

            Thanks. If I am reading your chart correctly it looks there was a pretty big jump in Three Forks wells from 2012 to 2013, with the number of middle Bakken wells actually decreasing for the first time (on an annual basis) since 2008, I agree that we should start to see the average Bakken/Three Forks well start to decrease and if I can find the data somewhere, I could conceivably model the Bakken and Three Forks separately, which would be much better than lumping them together.

            Pretty awesome stuff!

            • Enno says:

              “the number of middle Bakken wells actually decreasing for the first time (on an annual basis) since 2008, ”


              “if I can find the data somewhere, I could conceivably model the Bakken and Three Forks separately, which would be much better than lumping them together.”

              Completely agreed. I would start with checking your inbox.

  34. The Pollyannas were wrong also, Peak Oil creeping back into the News:

    The oil industry – looking a bit peaky, after all

    It has become fashionable to mock the pessimists who saw the events of the last decade as evidence of peak oil, but while the Jeremiahs overstated their case, what the Economist article shows is that the Pollyannas got it wrong too.

    The undeniable fact is that the most readily extractable oil is running out fast. If that weren’t the case, then the price of Brent crude wouldn’t be hovering around $100 a barrel in the wake of the worst recession in living memory.

    What makes this article more pertinent is that it was published in a very right wing rag, The Conservative Home. The conservatives are the ones who usually claim we will have prosperity forever because the invisible hand of the market will fix every problem imaginable.

    • Doug Leighton says:

      “The undeniable fact is that the most readily extractable oil is running out fast.” Perhaps I would be tempted to rephrase this: The undeniable fact is the last readily extractable high quality oil is being creamed from virtually all major reservoirs at the highest rate(s) humanly possible: Pollyannas and Cornucopians beware. Unfortunately oil experts such as Laherrère and Jeff Brown who understand this are voices in the wilderness so news will continue to be dominated by silly prognostications of ongoing abundance.

      • Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Doug,

        One might even argue that the truth may lie somewhere in the middle. Between Henny Penny and Pollyanna.

        • Doug Leighton says:


          The truth is almost certain to lie somewhere in the middle. Mankind will fight tooth-and-nail to retain a sense of normalcy, no matter how difficult. If I’ve learned anything it’s that most people, myself included, can and will adjust to new conditions surprisingly quickly — and efficiently. However, this will likely will be a difficult heart-wrenching process for many. I overheard a young girl the other day saying: “I will NEVER give up my i-phone.

          • Dennis Coyne says:

            I agree 100%, things will surely get difficult at first, then downright nasty as in Great Depression 2 (and just as WW2 was worse than the first, this Depression will be worse than the 30s), hopefully WW3 can be avoided, but many would deem that too Pollyannaish.

            We will likely have to give up a lot more than iphones, hopefully (Polyannish, I know) we won’t have to give up electric power as well, in some places natural gas and coal will help for a bit, but that will quickly deplete as well. Pollyanna would suggest a ramp up of solar, wind, and nuclear power might begin as people finally realize that peak fossil fuels is a reality, but I don’t want to get carried away.

          • Patrick R says:

            “I will NEVER give up my i-phone.”
            And she won’t. But she will give up her car. That’s what’s new.

            And you’re right about your ability to change and our equal determination to resist and delay that change for as long as possible…. we lack imagination, largely. Tomorrow will be the same but not as this…..
            So it goes.

            • Ilambiquated says:

              And her suburban home, which is worthless without a car.

              • Patrick R says:

                Yup that too. Many of those late 20th C auto-dependant suburbs gonna become low value stranded assets.

                Others will get retro fit with transit and be made walkable and bikeable, but it’s a big investment. Start now in your community while liquid fuels still affordable. Or move.

  35. Notice and a question.

    Notice: I had planned on a post later today on The Petroleum Supply Monthly which was due out today. But the EIA just changed the date it will be published to September 2. I have no other data or anything to discuss so it will be next week before anything gets published.

    Question: You will notice the comments section goes to a new page after so many comments. That number is set to 20 original comments, replies to comments don’t count. I can set that to any number. Would you rather have each comment page much longer or shorter or stay on one page forever? It was originally set to 15 and I changed it to 20. Perhaps it should be more? Let me know by replying to this comment.

    • Doug Leighton says:


      I’m a bit lazy about scrolling back to the previous page and if others are the same it may be better to allow more “original comments”. Then again if you’re lazy — tough. So, not really important probably!

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Hi Ron,

      I prefer it all on one page, but it can get ridiculously long, so maybe 25 instead of 20? I trust your judgement you are doing a great job. Thanks!

  36. Fuser says:

    That part doesn’t matter too much to me but are you about to set the page so it shows us what comments are ‘new’ like The Oil Drum did?

  37. Dave Ranning says:

    Its working!
    Only blue for new posts.

  38. sunnnv says:

    Ah – I wondered why things were blue… it works. Thanks Ron.

    Hey, anybody with more time than me want to get on Greentech Media in the Bill Gates gets dissed by Jigar Shah with Carl Pope playing honest broker about how to get electricity to the 3.2 Billion people without it?

    There isn’t a single word (or two words) about “peak oil”.

    Forbes (links inside above) could use some straightening out too, but they’re Forbes, so fat chance.

  39. Watcher says:

    The oil eating bacteria names are :

    Pseudomonas — famously genetically engineered and patented and a lawsuit went to the USSC over the validity of patenting an organism. The patent was upheld. Used to clean up the Exxon Valdez spill.

    Alcanivorax Borkumensis — natural marine organism that lives strictly on oil. Genome mapped 2006.

    SpillRemed — the product that contains Pseudomonas and Phenylobacterium Immobile. Certified for use blah blah.

    This really is serious business. Let’s attract some attention. Echelon. You guys need to put some security into the Bakken. If you can genetically engineer pseudomonas into existance, you can damn sure tweak it to work at 200 degs temperature.

    • Fred Magyar says:

      “This really is serious business. Let’s attract some attention. Echelon. You guys need to put some security into the Bakken. If you can genetically engineer pseudomonas into existance, you can damn sure tweak it to work at 200 degs temperature.

      Maybe, maybe not. 200ºF = 93.333ºC That’s pretty much at the extreme upper limit for any living organism…

      Many of the prokaryotes that grow in the most extreme environments are archaea – a group that is clearly distinguishable from both the present-day bacteria and the eukaryotes (see The Microbial World). There is little doubt that many of them still remain to be discovered and described, but this is a difficult field of research because of the problem of reproducing their natural growth conditions in a laboratory environment. Members of the genus Sulfolobus (archaea) are among the best-studied hyperthermophiles. They are commonly found in geothermal environments, with a maximum growth temperature of about 85-90C, optimum of about 80C and minimum of about 60C. They also have a low pH optimum (pH 2-3) so they are termed thermoacidophiles. Sulfolobus species gain their energy by oxidising the sulphur granules around hot springs, generating sulphuric acid and thereby lowering the pH.

      Hyperthermophiles have an optimum above 75C and thus can grow at the highest temperatures tolerated by any organism. An extreme example is the genus Pyrodictium, found on geothermally heated areas of the seabed. It has a temperature minimum of 82C, optimum of 105C and growth maximum of 110C.

      Good luck with the tweaking!

      • Watcher says:


        Then there would be no reason to spend all that money on chlorine for frack water and maintenance water during production, as is currently done in the Bakken.

        I pulled 200 degs out of the air. Correct gradient from several sources is 30 degs C per 1 kilometer of depth. So for the Bakken rather a lot less than 200.

        • Watcher says:

          The 25,000 ft wells offshore Brazil and GoM — 220ish degs C. Holy crap!

  40. RalphW says:

    Testing comment highlighting. Please ignore

  41. Dennis Coyne says:

    In Jean Laherrere’s post he talks about symmetry:

    “In my April MIT paper I was trying to show that oil data is full of cycles and almost all are
    symmetrical like the number of US wells (or the past Bakken production in ND or Montana).”

    It occurs to me that one of the many thinks he does not like about my Bakken scenarios is the lack of symmetry. For output from a single field there are many examples of oil fields where there was a lack of symmetry in field output. For the Bakken, the rapid rise in oil prices over the 2002 to 2008 period plus the application of horizontal drilling and multistage fracking and the development of the optimal process over the 2005 to 2010 time frame led to a rapid rise in both the number of wells completed and the output per producing well leading to a steep rise similar to Prudhoe Bay once the Alaskan pipeline was completed.

    The profile of North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks output (though the overall URR will be lower by 20 to 30%) is more likely to look like the Prudhoe Bay output curve than a classic symmetrical logistic curve.
    Chart below using data from the State of Alaska for Prudhoe Bay IPA plus Satellites.

    • Dennis Coyne says:

      Mistake above where “thinks” should be “things”.

      The flat top of the Prudhoe Bay output curve from 1980 to 1986 was probably due to the limited pipeline capacity. So far transport of oil by rail has removed any output constraints on North Dakota’s output due to limited capacity for oil transport and this is an important difference.

      For this reason the peak in Bakken output is unlikely to have such a flat top as the Prudhoe Bay output curve and is likely to lead to a steeper decline than the Prudhoe Bay case. The main point is that there is no reason why the decline will necessarily be as steep as the rise, the output curve is highly unlikely to exhibit the symmetric shape of a logistic function.

  42. Frugal says:

    Californian drought is so severe it’s ‘causing the ground to move’

    Looks like the serious drought happening in California is causing the ground to rise. Does this mean the end of swimming pools in Beverly Hills?

    • Dave Ranning says:

      On September 1st, we will have no named tropical storms.
      First time ever (from records).

      • Aws. says:

        Hurricane Arthur
        Huricane Bertha
        Hurricane Cristobal
        Have been the named storms so far this year….

        • Dave Ranning says:

          But none on Sep 1st.
          Eastern Pacific has been very active, while the Atlantic has been quiet, typical of a El Nino developing year.

  43. Another Notice: I will have another guest post from David Archibald coming out later today. I know most people who read and post on this blog, including myself, don’t agree with him on global warming or climate change. But that, in my opinion, has little to do with his Peak Oil predictions.

    None of us agree on everything so please keep that in mind when commenting on his Peak Oil prognostications.

  44. Luís says:

    Thank you Ron for publishing Jean’s work; worthy every bit.

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