Peak oil and the miracle of shale oil


In July 2023, the Shift Project was featured in the annals of Les Mines. You’ll find a summary below, and the full article to download.

By Michel LEPETIT Vice-president of The Shift Project, Research associate at LIED (Paris City University)

The global peak of “conventional” crude oil production was reached in the 2000s. However no crude oil peak was observed then, because the “miracle” of US shale oil took place. Anticipating limitations of conventional resources, the history of shale oil starts in the ‘60s-’70s with research on mass-scale hydraulic fracking and even nuclear fracking. To state that the shale oil “miracle” is a product of human genius is therefore partly true. It is less known that it is also a product of the “extraordinary” massive monetary policy.

In 2020, Covid-19 brought the oil market back to normalcy. Taken together, the level of maturity of hydrocarbon deposits – conventional or not – and the declining efficiency of oil-recovery techniques from geological reservoirs suggest that the global peak in crude oil production from November 2018 shall never again be equaled. The peak of conventional oil, the shale “miracle” and the return to “normalcy” will have consequences for the future of the world’s macroeconomic (growth), financial (inflation) and environmental (“green” finance) future.