Peak Oil

What is it…and why we should care?

Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global supply extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is derived from the Hubbert curve, and has been shown to be applicable to the sum of a nation’s domestic production rate, and is similarly applied to the global rate of petroleum production. Peak oil is often confused with oil depletion; peak oil is the point of maximum production while depletion refers to a period of falling reserves and supply.

M. King Hubbert (a geo-physosist from Royal Dutch Shell in the 1950’s) created and first used the models behind peak oil in 1956 to accurately predict that United States oil production would peak between 1965 and 1970. He was “right-on” and his work is now referred to as Hubbert peak theory, and its variants have described with reasonable accuracy the peak and decline of production. According to the Hubbert model, the production rate of a limited resource will follow a bell-shaped curve based on the limits of exploitability and market pressures. In general, the Hubbert curve suggests that production stops rising and then declines. Supply shortfalls will cause increased energy prices, unless demand is mitigated, often by higher prices, conservation and/or alternatives.

Optimistic estimations of peak production forecast the global decline will begin by 2020 or later, and assume major investments in alternatives will occur before a crisis, without requiring major changes in the lifestyle of heavily oil-consuming nations. Pessimistic predictions of future oil production operate on the thesis that either the peak has already occurred, oil production is on the cusp of the peak, or that it will occur shortly.

Whether the optimistic or pessimistic view is taken, one thing is clear; because the future is un-known, and the possibility exits that crude oil production has peaked…and this means there is a price risk in the future. This price risk can be prudently hedge against.

This long term view (regarding “peak oil”) further cements the importance of knowing your energy budget objectives and analyzing how much risk you can “stomach” should an event like “peak oil” go against your desires. One cannot control whether “peak oil” becomes a reality, but one can control the price exposure should production peak, casusing a shortage in supply and thus higher energy prices.

The Bull Bear Sample Report

The Bull Bear Report

March 29, 2010

Maverick Energy

Market View Summary:

Crude Oil:
The crude market remains bearish signaling that flat to lower markets are possible near-term. Closes below $79.41 would confirm that a short-term top has been posted. If the rally renews, the upside target is $85.43.

Bear (Short-Term) & Neutral (Long-Term)


Hedge Funds & Technical Factors:
Technicals remain mixed, but the bias is still to the downside as momentum slowly grows.

Slight Bear (Short-Term) & Neutral (Long-Term)



Inventory (DOE weekly report)

Distillates (Diesel) & Gasoline:
Crude saw a build of 7.3 mb, gasoline a draw of 2.7 mb, and diesel a draw of 2.4 mb. Refinery utilization was at 82.1% (last week 81.5%)

Neutral (Short-term) & Neutral (Long-term)


Natural Gas Storage:
This week’s injection was 11 BCF. The prior year number was an injection of 3 BCF. The current inventory balance is 1.626 TCF which is 149 BCF above the 5 year average and 28 BCF below the prior year.

Bear (Short-Term) & Neutral (Long-Term)



Weather Outlook

The 6 to 10 day forecast calls for warmer than normal for the Midwest and East, while cooler than normal for West.

Neutral (Short-Term), Neutral (Long-Term)


Economy (Macro-economics)

Q4 GDP was revised to a final +5.6% from the last reading of +5.9%, a fairly large adjustment for a final reading and a lower one at that. Within the data consumer and business spending was seen being lower than previously reported while overall the largest contribution continued to come from inventory building. That inventory building is not likely to provide a boost moving forward, as with any GDP reduction…energy demand is also being trimmed ever so lightly.

Slight Bear (Short-Term), Slight Bear (Long-Term)



Geopolitical risk is a continual risk for energy prices, especially with respect to Iran. If/when geopolitical issues hit the forefront we can expect oil moves above $100. Due to the ongoing risk of geopolitical tension, crude is expected to average $85 for most of the year.

Bull (Short-term), Bull (Long-term)


Natural Gas

As we sit today we remain at a loss to find something to be bullish about for natural gas in the short-term. We are in one of those rare times when no hedge is the best hedge (short-term). This will eventually change, but for now we expect the monthly premium seen in the outward months to drift lower for the prompt month.

  Crude Oil Technical Storage Rigs Weather Economy
Short Term Bear Bear Bear Bear Neutral Bear
Long Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Bear


Gasoline & Diesel

The dollar and equities continue to drive energies, but overall the complex remains reluctant to follow which could indicate a swift sell-off if the macros were to turn more bearish.


  Crude Oil Technical Storage Weather Geo Political
Short Term Bear Bear Neutral Neutral Bull
Long Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Bull

  Icon Legend  
Bear Bull Neutral
Bear Bull Neutral
John Righeimer

Russ Paluch

Maverick is an energy procurement consulting firm devoted to providing strategy, planning, budgeting, and tracking services to a broad range of providers and end-users. We provide quality procurement strategies that produce bottom line results. We assist in the procurement of supply and prepare hedging strategies to manage energy price volatility.
Quote of the week:

“To succeed in life in today’s world, you must have the will and tenacity to finish the job.”
Chin-Ning Chu