It's an interesting time for the peak oil theory. Recent developments in unconventional fuels, such as hydrofracking and shale gas, seem to have put paid to Hubbert's concept, or at least pushed it far off into the future.
And yet those innovations might be confirmations of peak oil theory, rather than its refutation. So argues Stephen Hren. It's an interesting argument, worth following through. I wanted to highlight a couple of points, along with some weaknesses.
Strengths: the price of oil had to shoot up high enough to merit investing in unconventional methods. That's classic peak oil - the easy oil has already been found, so prices rise, making it worthwhile to employ more expensive tools, like fracking. Also the rise of consumption (worldwide), along with decrease in exports. Plus the point about new oil being more effective in heating the atmosphere than the old.
Weakness: the role of oil prices in the 2008 crisis is controversial. You can't talk about that without mentioning the financial sector, who not only drove the crisis on their own, but whose internal (not energy-related) logics made it happen.
In the end, it's possible to overstate peak oil as a theory. It can become easy doom-mongering, and fail in the face of new data. But what we're going through now certainly feels like it's in play. "We're not running out of oil; we're finding hard to get, expensive stuff!" could be spoken by either a peak oiler or a shale booster.