free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 279. THE MANY WRONG PREDICTIONS OF KEN DEFFEYES

Thursday, April 06, 2006


In the interests of honesty and full-disclosure, it's probably best if we take a close look at the numerous failed peak predictions of Professor Kenneth Deffeyes, PhD.

Ken first called the peak for the year 2000. In an article called "Brace yourself for the end of cheap oil" in New Scientist*, Deffeyes had this to say:
And he [Deffeyes] believes the highest single year may already have passed. "2000 may stand as a blip above the curve and be in the Guinness Book of World Records."
Similar remarks are recorded in the ASPO August 2003 newsletter:
This may substantiate the view, voiced by Ken Deffeyes, at the Paris ASPO Meeting [May 2003], that peak oil production may turn out to have been in 2000 as much from falling demand as supply constraints.
This was a huge goof, and seriously calls into question Deffeyes grasp of the situation. According to the EIA, oil production in 2000 was 77mbd, while today it is pushing 85mbd.

Next, in his book "Hubbert's Peak", published in 2001, Deffeyes claimed that "the numbers" showed that peak would occur in 2003, although he admitted the possibility of error, as described in the review of his book in the October 2001 issue of Scientific American:
The numbers pointed to 2003 as the year of peak production, but because estimates of global reserves are inexact, Deffeyes settled on a range from 2004 to 2008. Three things could upset Deffeyes's prediction. One would be the discovery of huge new oil deposits. A second would be the development of drilling technology that could squeeze more oil from known reserves. And a third would be a steep rise in oil prices, which would make it profitable to recover even the most stubbornly buried oil.
Then, in the New Scientist article* referenced earlier, Deffeyes made the following claim:
I am 99 per cent confident that 2004 will be the top of the mathematically smoothed curve of oil production.
This too, turned out wrong. Production kept rising, so Deffeyes swept the old predictions under the carpet, and boldly stated that the peak would occur on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) 2005.

Yet again, his prediction turned out wrong, so he changed his prediction to Dec. 16, 2005.
In the January 2004 Current Events on this web site, I predicted that world oil production would peak on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2005. In hindsight, that prediction was in error by three weeks. An update using the 2005 data shows that we passed the peak on December 16, 2005.Source
(This waffle occurred in the same issue of his web newsletter where he claimed that "By 2025, we're going to be back in the Stone Age" -- a claim that he later backpedaled and retracted. See 259. KEN DEFFEYES STARTS BACKPEDALING.)

This still isn't the end of it. Just a few days ago a reader of this blog attended the EGU meeting in Vienna. In a "Great Debate" with Jean Laherrere, Michael Lynch and Yves Mathieu, Deffeyes said that if we consider the uncertainty of his regression line, peak oil can be expected to occur somewhere between Nov. 2005 and April 2006 -- i.e. right now. In other words, he's waffling yet again.

So let's total up the whole sorry scorecard. Deffeyes has predicted that PO would occur in:

Nov. 24 2005
Dec. 16 2005
And now Nov. 2005-April 2006.

No integrity whatsoever. Just a sad old man trying to hang onto the spotlight. Maybe it's time to retire, Ken, and open a waffle shop.

You wanna know the method that Ken is using to predict the peak now? It's fun. Anybody can do it, and it's guaranteed to work -- even if you're a drooling moron with Cheetos in your nostrils.
  1. Buzz over to the EIA site, and see what the current world oil production figure (X) is.
  2. State that X is the peak.
  3. If in fact X does turn out to be the peak, you're Prophet El Supremo.
  4. If oil production subsequently rises, you'll have to "readjust your prediction to take account of new data". Go to step 1.
Deffeyes isn't the only scammer out there playing this game. T. Boone Pickens is running the same con, and making money at it!

“Never again will we pump more than 82 million barrels.”
-- T. Boone Pickens, 9th August 2004. On the Kudlow and Cramer Show, MSNBC.

“Global oil [production] is 84 million barrels [per day]. I don't believe you can get it any more than 84 million barrels."
-- T. Boone Pickens, addressing the 11th National Clean Cities conference in May 2005.

"I don't believe that you can increase the supply beyond 84 or 85 million barrel as day."
-- T. Boone Pickens, on "CNN In the Money", June 25, 2005.

"Supply is—you‘ve just about had it on supply; 85 million barrels a day world supply is about it. "
-- T. Boone Pickens, on Hardball with Chris Matthews, MSNBC, Aug. 26, 2005


*) New Scientist vol 179 issue 2406 - 02 August 2003, page 9 -- a copy can be downloaded as a doc file here),
-- by JD


At Thursday, April 6, 2006 at 7:14:00 AM PDT, Blogger goritsas said...

Come on, give poor 'ole Ken a break, you heartless soul. Everybody reaches a tipping point. Surely you remeber the tragic tale of Linus "10,000mg a day" Pauling? Just think of him as tragic Ken "A peak a day, that's all we ask" Deffeyes.

At Thursday, April 6, 2006 at 7:59:00 AM PDT, Blogger Mark said...

no, it sameu, it is useful.

the usefulness of this is that it shows that if the doomers can't even accurately predict the one thing that we all know is going to happen with absolute certainty (global oil production peaking) than how much less should we trust their other predictions (economic collapse, resource wars, etc).

It also calls into question the integrity and motives of the doomers. Someone who adjusts their predictions 6 times and is just as confident each time is not an intellectually honest person. It colors how you view the other things that they say.

At Thursday, April 6, 2006 at 8:23:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

If you present yourself publicly as a prophet, then yes your track record does matter, and you should be prepared to take your licks. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Your record gives the layman a better idea of how much credibility to assign to your predictions in general.

Global peak oil is an important issue, and forecasting it should be entrusted to sober people who are conscientious enough to integrate all the necessary information in a scientific fashion -- not those who are lazy and simply whoring for headlines.

As for the high oil prices... I welcome them. They're the solution to peak oil, not the problem. And the driving season? What kind of "reality" is that? It's lifestyle fluff. It's not going to kill anybody if it gets canceled. In fact, that's probably one of the best things that could happen if you're concerned about hurricanes.

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool car hater, sameu. They totally disgust me. So you're going to have a hard time convincing me that we have a "problem" with high oil prices, an endangered driving season, the death of GM etc. In my mind, those are all good signs, signs of healing.

At Thursday, April 6, 2006 at 8:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

You always say great stuff. You're right about Lynch. He has the best record out there on production, but he did mess up big time on price. I'm an equal opportunity debunker, and I'll post on that sometime soon. Mistakes are always educational, no matter who makes them.

I also agree with you about predictions in general. We should be thinking about shaping the future, not predicting it. The future isn't a static unchangeable object.

BTW, do you have the link on those Kunstler predictions? ;-)

At Friday, April 7, 2006 at 8:40:00 AM PDT, Blogger GermanDom said...

wenn will oil peak?

Wenn will conventional oil peak?
Wenn will non-conventional oil peak?

At Friday, April 7, 2006 at 8:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger GermanDom said...

So, now that you don't give any price predictions, it's pretty obvious that you'll now say you don't give any Peak predictions.

Am I right?
Am I right?
Am I right?

It's easy to let others put their necks in the rope...

At Friday, April 7, 2006 at 1:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger popmonkey said...

dom, dom, dom. no one asked deffeyes to put his neck in the noose noose noose.

chris v,

so what if he's talking about conventional oil??? does conventional peak eq stone age in 20 years?

if he's trying to warn people about the REAL peak oil then he shouldn't be talking about peak conventional. peak conventional is not going to bring down civilization.

but i don't think he's trying to warn anyone. i just think he likes being in the spotlight. hubert's famous friend (riding the dead guy's coat tails in prophetering :D)

At Saturday, April 8, 2006 at 12:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger GermanDom said...

popmonkey, popmonkey, popmonkey,

yeah, yer right.
Nobody asked him, just like nobody asked Hubert. I will admit that Hubert wasn't as shrill as Deffeyes, but his estimate was between 1996 and 2000.

The Carter admin adopted 2000. Now that's gone and passed. So What? Back then, Hubert kept pushing US peak back - it took a while to reach 1971:-!

So, JD,

have you ever proposed a date?
You only have to do it once.
You don't have to repeat yourself or keep changing your date.
Only once.
For us.

Faithfully yours,

At Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 2:31:00 PM PDT, Blogger Joe said...

High Oil prices don't seem to be hurting world economy yet. - see below

"The ministers predicted a 4.5 percent expansion of global economic output this year, their Vienna meeting host, Austrian Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, told a news conference.

That compared to 4.3 percent growth in 2005, which was the best in decades and driven to a significant extent by rapidly developing economies such as China and India, where growth is three or four times faster than in industrialized countries.

"We are more optimistic, even if the oil price has increased further. We are happy because we are more resilient," European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said."

At Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 6:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger Joe said...


I don't think $100 oil would have much effect, maybe it would knock the growth for 2006 down between 3.5 - 4% ... still a very good year. In real terms $100 oil this year would be about the same as price in 1980.

If we go up to $150/barrel in 2007 then I think the world economy will definitely slow down... maybe to about 1-2% growth.

However, we will adjust to these new higher prices and within a few years we will be back up to to 2.5 - 3% + growth in world economy.

At Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 8:21:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...


At Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 7:39:00 AM PST, Blogger TraderGordo said...

Those predicting PEAK OIL 2006 WRONG AGAIN

We hit a new record high in the latest quarter, almost 86M barrels a day.

Thanks for the informative blog, I just found it. I had been thinking about peak oil and what it would mean. The world is definitely going to change a lot, FOR THE BETTER!

We have many decades to adjust, we can do it. People don't want to buy cheesy looking smaller light weight cars today for example, but they will when gas prices triple again.

We will adapt and thrive. The fantastic technological development will continue.


At Monday, June 11, 2007 at 6:03:00 AM PDT, Blogger Caseygrl said...

Okay, I'm having to agree with JD that Deffeyes is a little bit......dumb? I've heard that his latest prediction for PO is this year (2007) and after reading about his prior predictions, i'm not really taking his latest one with a grain of salt. (and oil is still sitting below $70, yes gas prices soared here a month ago, got to around $3.20+ for unleaded but not it's calming down). I do believe PO will happen, but I think that it's still maybe a few years away and that as we need to, we will make the big change to alternative fuels. It's already happening, in small steps. Frankly, I'll be glad to see the end of SUVs (especially Hummers, i think their a big waste of gas) and see the new era of walkable communities, the rebirth of rail and water travel (hopefully), and other things that will happen. This change from oil to alternative fuels will be for the better for us humans...

At Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 8:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, today is May 25, 2008 and oil prices are at $132 per barrel. I pay $4.30 per gallon here.

Even if his prediction if off by a few years or even a decade it does not negate the fact that it will occur. When it does, and we are not prepared what will be the consequences?

It is time to consider alternatives (i.e. hybrid car, nuclear energy, bio-fuels) and prepare. Switching away from gas will take decades. The time to prepare has really passed -- we would have been much better off preparing in the 90s -- but the soon we start the less painful it will be to make the switch later.

At Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 10:43:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Even if his prediction if off by a few years or even a decade it does not negate the fact that it will occur. When it does, and we are not prepared what will be the consequences?

You will have to ride the bus, or a scooter, or (shriek! shriek!) maybe even a bicycle. I know this sounds like dying and going to hell for Americans etc., but in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal. 90% of peak oil angst is all about *lifestyle*.


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