Whale Oil  

Posted by Big Gav

Lawnorder has a pointer to a good article on Daily Kos about whale oil - the only commodity to have gone through a full Hubbert's peak depletion cycle (which could indicate that fears of Whale Oil depletion may be well founded after all).

The 'bell-shaped' production curve of a non-recyclable mineral resource was described first by M. King Hubbert in 1956, and was used to correctly predict that the production of crude oil in the United States (Lower-48) would peak in 1970. It is reasonable to suppose that the worldwide production of crude oil will also follow a similar bell-curve, with much of the present debate focusing on when the peak will occur. It is anticipated that it will generate an epochal change deriving from a steep rise in prices.

The rise in prices at the peak is expected because of the switch from a market driven by production to one driven by supply. The Hubbert model, however, does not itself provide quantitative information on prices, and it is not possile to draw conclusions from individual country peaks because oil prices are set globally.

In order to obtain historical evidence for price trends, one needs to examine a case where a non-recyclable resource went through a complete Hubbert cycle worldwide. There are no previous examples of a mineral resource that has done so. In fact, crude oil may turn out to be the first, which incidentally may be one of the reasons why the concept of 'peak oil' is so difficult for many people to grasp.

We can derive insight into crude oil price trends from [this] - Whale oil prices started to increase approximately at the inflection point of the curve well and before the production peak,. An upward spike in prices took place a few years after the peak, being also detectable in the non-inflation corrected price data.



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