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Energies 2009, 2(3), 646-661; doi:10.3390/en20300646

A Simple Interpretation of Hubbert’s Model of Resource Exploitation

1,2,*  and 1,2
1 Dipartimento di Chimica, Università di Firenze, Via della Lastruccia 3, Sesto Fiorentino FI, Italy 2 ASPO – Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, Italian section, c/o Dipartimento di Chimica, Università di Firenze, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 July 2009 / Revised: 4 August 2009 / Accepted: 5 August 2009 / Published: 13 August 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Economics)
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The well known “Hubbert curve” assumes that the production curve of a crude oil in a free market economy is “bell shaped” and symmetric. The model was first applied in the 1950s as a way of forecasting the production of crude oil in the US lower 48 states. Today, variants of the model are often used for describing the worldwide production of crude oil, which is supposed to reach a global production peak (“peak oil”) and to decline afterwards. The model has also been shown to be generally valid for mineral resources other than crude oil and also for slowly renewable biological resources such as whales. Despite its widespread use, Hubbert’s modelis sometimes criticized for being arbitrary and its underlying assumptions are rarely examined. In the present work, we use a simple model to generate the bell shaped curve curve using the smallest possible number of assumptions, taking also into account the “Energy Return to Energy Invested” (EROI or EROEI) parameter. We show that this model can reproduce several historical cases, even for resources other than crude oil, and provide a useful tool for understanding the general mechanisms of resource exploitation and the future of energy production in the world’s economy.
Keywords: Hubbert model; crude oil; depletion; peak oil; energy returned on energy invested; EROEI Hubbert model; crude oil; depletion; peak oil; energy returned on energy invested; EROEI
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Bardi, U.; Lavacchi, A. A Simple Interpretation of Hubbert’s Model of Resource Exploitation. Energies 2009, 2, 646-661.

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