Why I thought it was critical to build a webpage for Jean Laherrere

Charlie Hall is showing first the Age of reptiles, followed by the Age of mammals, lastly showing the Age of oil in which we now reside. His student, Sara Button, the creator of this site is sitting outside of his office waiting for their scheduled meeting.

I am an empiricist and I love to look at and think about data. When I was working on modeling world oil production and its potential economic impact, I used initially the USGS 2000 petroleum assessment, figuring it was official and I thought well done. They gave low, “best” and high estimates for different countries for the “ultimate” recovery of oil (called EUR, which includes that oil already produced) that sum to roughly 2, 3 and 4.5 trillion barrels for the world, relative to the 1 trillion barrels we have already produced. We modeled the production curves based on the USGS’s middle estimates and assumptions of Hubbert Peaks at 50 or 60 percent of EUR (Hallock et al. 2004). We began to see that for many, many individual countries (Argentina, Indonesia, UK, Norway, Mexico and so on) the actual oil production peaked long before the model—i.e. the USGS “best” estimate has to be very high, at least for these countries. The low values come much closer to reality.

What this means to me is that there is little credibility to the “best” estimate of USGS or of other groups that tend to predict much more than 2 trillion barrels EUR. This leaves the field to the low estimators, of which I had come to think that Jean Laherrere seemed to be the most thorough, honest and competent. As a consequence I went to visit him in France where myself, my wife and a graduate student (Nate Gagnon) were treated royally for four days. I came away overwhelmed with the detail of his information, his amazing resources that he keeps in two large rooms in a farmhouse, and his willingness, even enthusiasm to share with me. When I look at how others do their oil analysis and compare it to Jean I come away believing that his data is by far the best. In addition he is a data analysis Junkie and has gone about plotting, analyzing and thinking about just about everything related to oil and, for that matter, everything else. I found it an extremely exciting intellectual trip to be with him. In addition when provoked he really takes a stand, makes his position known, and speaks out. You can see some examples under the section we call “discussion”. More recently what I have learned about Jean Laherrere as I have gotten to know him better, how funny he is and how much I enjoy my time spent with him.

Jean gave us two large CDs of data, and I told him that all of this was so incredible that would it be possible to build a web page where we can share it. He liked the idea, and here we are just getting this thing off the ground. Such as I can tell it is the most accurate and honest assessment of oil reserves that we can trust that is available. I will let him say as to exactly how he gets and maintains this data base, or for that matter anything else (after all its his web site) but I wanted to share these data and analyses with others out there.

I hope this can be used as a point of reference for anyone that disagrees with Jean to argue point by point and oil field by oil field instead of vague promises of technology and the market.

-Charlie Hall