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Tribute to Tiber: “Oil is Found in the Minds of Men”

By Peter Foster -- September 9, 2009

[This piece, which originally appeared in the (Canadian) National Postcan be read in conjunction with MasterResource posts on “peak oil” here and here. A brief bio of Mr. Foster appears at the end of this post.]

The great petroleum geologist Wallace Pratt famously said that “Oil is found in the minds of men.” Discoveries depend on visionary theory, technical innovation and commitment to risky drilling. Plus luck. Peak Oil theory, by contrast -which asserts that global oil production has, or soon will, peak, and that this has powerful policy implications — is found in the limitations of the minds of men. It is less geological theory than unevolved intellectual shortcoming, although it certainly has its political uses.

The fruits of the “greatest resource,” as economist Julian Simon dubbed the human mind, appeared yet again this week with the announcement by BP that it had found a “giant” field at unprecedented depth in the Gulf of Mexico, an area that twenty years ago was regarded as played out.…