Arthur Berman: "Shale Oil and the Slurping Sound”

On this episode, Arthur Berman returns to unpack the complexity underpinning the oil trends of the last 75 years and what new data can tell us about availability in the coming years. After decades of declining oil production in the United States, the past decade of rising oil extraction has eased many worries about peak oil. But the past few years of continued growth have been obtained by using “a larger straw”, merely delaying the inevitability of the depletion of a finite resource. Art presents recent data on well productivity in US shale plays indicating we are much closer to ‘the slurping sound’. How does technology hide the declining availability of oil reserves, causing us to extract and use them faster without creating any new resources? Going beyond geology, how do geopolitics, finance, and social opinion affect oil availability? Where do we go when economically viable oil isn’t available anymore - and will we have the prudence to make the cultural shifts necessary before we have no other options? Have we now passed ‘peak oil’?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at