Interview with Robert L. Hirsch

Dr. Robert Hirsch has a unique place in the ‘peak oil’ issue. Back in 2005, he was the main author of the first pessimistic report ever published by a public administration (presentation on Wikipedia).

Not any public administration : the Department of Energy of President George Bush.

[oil man] In the book that you are about to publish, your case is that ‘peak oil’ may happen very soon indeed. According to you, when might we be getting into trouble ? In ten years, in less than ten years ?

Let me begin with this : the background is the production. World oil production had been progressing and then it’s been flat, fluctuating, since the middle of 2004 : it’s been on a ‘plateau’. The economic recession led to a decline in demand, but not much.

The world demand is going up again. It’s back to where it was before the beginning of the crisis in 2008.

Correct. And the oil production fluctuates in a band of 4 or 5 %. It’s not very big. I think that the world oil production cannot go higher than that.

What is your hypothesis ?

We will stay in this band, and within 2 to 5 years, world oil production will go into decline.

So you have in mind the same terrible scenario which has recently been put forward by the Pentagon, the Lloyd’s and Chatham House, and by the German army.

Roughly, yes.

The Department of Energy too mentions a fluctuating, or “undulating” plateau of the oil production. Are you talking about the same thing ?

The difference is that they say we will get to that plateau somewhere in the future. But we are already there ! And if you look at the data, there’s no question we’re there.

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