Colin Campbell, ASPO
& the Depletion Model
Colin Campbell of Ireland has been forecasting
the Peak of Oil extraction since 1991. His early studies projected a
global oil decline commencing in
1998. Assuming a Hubbert Curve Model application, his Peak Date
becomes a moving target as annual information comes in from oil
producing nations on their changing Reserves, past consumption and
future Resources. Thus, his Peak Oil Date has enjoyed a range from
1998 to 2012. It is currently 2010.
Campbell's 1991 Depletion
Model can be seen amid several
early Outlooks in the above discussion.
At left, we see its 1996 hybrid with four scenarios. In later
versions, Colin would divide crude into two categories:
Regular Conventional crude including traditional extraction and
b) All Liquids incl
Conventional plus Non-conventional crude including heavy, polar, deep water, natural
gas liquids and processing gains.
It is this second
multi-component definition that is commonly used in projections by the
oilco's & energy agencies and in the mainstream media. The former
is a study best left to academia and purists as its tracking has little
to do with the dynamics in play in today's marketplace. When one
buys petroleum by-product,
nobody cares where it came from or its extraction cost. In the
end, it all goes into the same pool.
This early 1996 effort
appears to be Colin Campbell's first graphic depiction; two scenarios
with differing URRs.
one of Colin Campbell's early depictions of Peak Oil. In late 1996, a
plateau was envisioned from 1998 to 2012 amid a URR of 1750-Gb.
Below, we note that by 1997 the plateau was narrowed to '99-2008 with
At left, we see a
Campbell/Laherrère collaboration that appeared in Scientific American.
TrendLines has discovered that while the March 1998 article calls this
graph their "All Liquids" version, our analysis of its URR clearly shows
that its URR of 1800-Gb does not reconcile with the article's All
Liquids URR of 2500-Gb but rather matches exactly with their Conventional
estimate of 1800-Gb. "Oops!" The chart reflects
Laherrère's logistic methodology ... not the 2000's plateau akin to
Campbell ('97 & '99).
Below, we see the two
graphs that should have been in the Sci-Am article. "Scenarios"
reflects Campbell's view of Regular Conventional plateau-style Peak and
subsequent Decline. "All Hydrocarbons" puts forth his proposal of for
conventional oil, the non-conventionals and natural gas. The
component (below the orange Gas layer) is a representation of a (34-GbA) 93-mbd
Peak Rate in 2009 via a 2600-Gb URR. This Outlook, part of Colin
Campbell's House of Commons committee testimony in July 1999 is
significant in that it's 93-mbd Peak Rate was the highest of his career
(until July 2007).
The article reflects Campbell's being
overly consumed by the imminent peaking of Regular Conventional Crude
(RCC) and his alarmist tendencies surrounding that event. Only in the final paragraphs
did the article admit EIA's
projection for All Liquids of (40-GbA) 110-mbd in 2020 ... with
no apparent peak in sight. The express tone was that the imminent
peak of RCC would cause crisis level crude prices and foreshadow a peak
of All Liquids in 12 years. But in real 1997 USDollars, today's
crude price is quite reasonable. It is now 2009 and consensus for
an All Liquids decline is that this event is still 14 years away...
Global production today is 84-mbd.
The consensus for URR is 3.8-Tb, compared to Campbell's 2.6-Tb.
Michael Lynch's 1997 position that rising crude prices would translate
to ever increasing Reserves has come to fruition.
RCC (light sweet) is a very narrowly
defined oil, one of eleven streams that comprise All Liquids.
It was 84% of total production in 1998. Today it is 73%, and will
be a mere 53% in 2030. Unfortunately, Campbell misread the growing
future importance of NGL & the non-conventionals. To be fair, his
stalwart monitoring of RCC was instructive: it Peaked in 2005 @
Like the Hubbert National Geographic
presentation in 1974, this Scientific American feature was priceless in
its energy awareness value...
Oil Peak Plateau (red) of 64-mbd from 2001 to 2008 with 1800-Gb URR.
And also from July 1999, the Campbell "All Liquids" Peak of 93-mbd in 2009
with 2600-Gb URR.
But from the optimistic
outlook of 1999, Campbell somehow got on a pessimistic streak that
worsened 'til Summer 2004. By then his Peak Rate forecast had
fallen from the 93-mbd in 2009 (above) to a mere 80-mbd Peak scheduled
to hit in 2006.
The Achilles heel was his
failure to accept the magnitude of growing Russian production and the
newfound non-conventional sources. In his original work, Colin had
been tracking conventional crude (and condensate). He wanted that
his precise documentation of past and future production would finally
validate Hubbert's 1956 prediction of a global peak of oil in Y2K.
In Nov/2001 Campbell professed: "Russian production forecasts are a
myth. So, barring large scale discovery or development of a secret
cache of finds, this output surge will last for two or maybe three years
before being overwhelmed by expanding local demand and the return of the
Well, Russia went on to
actually surpass Saudi Arabia in annual production to become the globe's
numero uno producer of oil. And worse, the new "all liquids"
definition (heavy, polar, deep water, gas liquids
and processing gains) attained quite substantial and unforeseen volumes
with those components now making up 12% of supply.
Fortunately, he seems to
have reflected and come to a realization that perhaps the
"integrity" of his data releases are ultimately more important than
the perception of that his
bias was pushing an Agenda.
Similar to the Laherrère
graphic above, this March Y2K depiction of the Conventional
Peak (from the Feasta Conference) illustrates their hypothesis that a plateau-type peak
(grey line) could soften the
decline slope and extend the decline tail; as differentiated from the
Hubbert idealized Curve (black line).
This 2001 depiction was a
successor to the 1999 version above and has lived on to become the
"poster child" of the Campbell/ASPO Depletion Scenario Model that was
introduced in the ASPO Newsletter of May 2002.
This Newsletter Table has
become the basis for the Campbell/ASPO Depletion Model. In the
recent past it was fraught with arithmetic errors that led to wrong
conclusions by those that depended upon them. Some errors were of
the 6-mbd magnitude. In 2004 & 2005, i was ousted from several
mailing lists and forums that were disturbed by my accusations that
Campbell's numbers were seriously flawed and that it was my opinion that
he required immediate assistance with the DM if it was to sustain the
rigours of media and analyst scrutiny.
TrendLines uses this data
to forecast the Hubbert Peak of Regular Conventional Oil and the Peak
Oil for All Liquids. When we published that the Hubbert Peak has
passed unceremoniously in the Spring of 2004, ASPO was still looking
forward to a 2006 Peak. Again a mea culpa occurred and in August
2005 the Newsletter was corrected (see left) to illustrate a 2004
Peak and they kindly mentioned this website as a source for those
seeking a Campbell/ASPO retrospect and development of their Depletion
Model and its revisions.
The Campbell methodology
includes the continual update of a global database of national figures
wrt past consumption, current reserves and future resource for both
Regular Conventional Oil and All Liquids. These annual,
quarterly and monthly amendments can result in changes to URR that can
move the respective Peak Dates of the two categories substantially.
Since early 2004, the date for Conventional Peak Oil has been a moving
target ranging from Y2k to 2006. Colin Campbell is one of several
Peak Oil Depletion Scenario modellers that share their spreadsheets,
data or results with TrendLines. By our 2007 analysis of the ASPO
figures, Conventional Peak Oil occurred in April 2005 and is undergoing
a 2.5% Decline. Do not be alarmed. Conventional Oil is
narrowly defined and this particular Peak is monitored only by academia
Meanwhile, the one that
affects us all in our daily life, ASPO's All Liquids Extraction Peak is
forecast in 2010. Unless there is a plateau, from that point the
volume of oil available for consumption will decline annually by a yet
unknown factor, but estimated at approx 2.6% by Campbell. While
the Production Peak and half-way point in consumption seem to have
occurred in the same year (2005) for Conventional Oil, it appears that
the half-way crossover for All Liquids will be in October 2012. In
theory, this reflects that while there are over 1.4 trillion barrels of
oil still to come out of the ground, the tar sands or below the oceans,
the extraction will be with increased technical difficulty and expense.
I consider Campbell's coming to grips
with reality in 2004 somewhat of an "epiphany moment" for him. The
shame cast aside, he could now freely disseminate his current research
without accusations of purposeful tainting. If not "then", well
"when"? And we all watched with anticipation his subsequent ASPO
concerns with some ambiguities in the published work and was extremely
fortunate to be one of few with whom he shared his documentation.
My position was that, aside from the plethora of arithmetic errors, we
were indeed witnessing the passing of the Hubbert Curve in early 2004.
But in April 2004, Campbell was mysteriously showing Conventional or
Regular Peak Oil was pushed ahead to 2005 and all Liquids moved back to
2007. I shortly found that whispering "the emperor has no clothes"
is grounds for exodus from Peaksterville. Alas, my whispers got
much louder. Over the ensuing months we saw the Peaks move to and
fro, sometimes with rationalization ... and sometimes not. Tho his
arithmetic may not be the best, new information is introduced in the
ASPO Monthly Newsletters. A consequence is that the extraction
Peak Rate and Peak Year thus move around like a yo-yo; but that is the
nature of dealing with the scientific method. Further, folks must
understand that Colin's work actually relates to four peaks. The
Hubbert extraction peak and the half-way consumption Peak of Regular
Oil. And those same two peaks for "all liquids".
The perennial ultra conservative ASPO Projection is compared
to Jean Laherrère and other analysts at the top of our
Peak Oil Issues page.