The "Peak Cheap Oil?" Debate: Doomberg's & Chris's Responses and Rebuttals

Today we’re diving into the most important energy debate of our times – this one between the green chicken Doomberg and myself. This isn’t just about saving the planet or cutting back on emissions. It’s about our economy, our health, our future prosperity and our national security. If Doomberg is right, it’s cheap oil for the rest of everyone’s lifetime. If I’m right the world’s economy is in deep, deep trouble.

If you’re someone who loves a good debate or is curious about different viewpoints, then you’ve come to the right place. In today’s world, it’s easy to get caught up in our own beliefs and opinions. But what if I told you that having a healthy debate with someone who has opposing views can actually make us smarter and more open-minded, and get us closer to the truth? Indeed, the only thing that can save us is to have honest discussions.

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This was initially produced for my subscribers, but it’s too important to keep behind our paywall. It’s a series of three separate videos and are examples of “how” we go about having proper, open-minded conversations about vitally important topics that are shaping your world today.

Let the debates commence!$/embed/@PeakProsperityPremium:b/Doomberg-Part-1-Of-3:a?r=EsxSCJwpNUghA4kJwQCKR4dqbRgS6wBg

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Audio Version

For those who aren’t subscribers, or who perhaps missed my scouting reports somehow, here are the important parts of them reproduced from the subscriber-only area where they were initially posted. If you’re not a subscriber, these are examples of the sort of content I am producing several times per week for my subscribers. I am their private researcher, in effect, saving them time, and doing the hard work of being both an information scout and then sitting down and doing the hard thinking necessary to make sense of it all.

There have been 84 such reports since the beginning of August 2023 until today (Jan 12, 2024), to give you a sense of the volume (an average of more than 3 per week).

Ah ha! Doomberg responded. Excellent.

Let’s dive in. I love a good debate. Let’s see what Doomberg has got.

He begins by saying that geology has proven to be no match for clever engineers. Sadly, this flunks many tests.

For example, one wonders why all those brilliant chemists and engineers have not managed to reverse 50+ years of declining conventional oil production.

Surely there must be some reason for this? Are they not trying? Did they simply get bored with easy projects and decided to chase the much more intellectually stimulating shale projects?

Well, there too those chemists and petroleum engineers are letting us down!

Seems to me that geology is geology and that defines the box within which human cleverness must make its way. But geology and physics always have their way.

Now, onto the much more interesting core of his rebuttal - surprise! - it’s an amazing, proven piece of technology.

Ah. The Pearl Facility Shell built in 2010 (at a then cost of $20 billion…so double that now?)

Interesting. Let’s dive in. The Devil is always in the details.

It’s a Fischer-Tropshe facility converting methane to longer-chain things. CH4 gets turned into C8 and longer chains.

It sucks 1.6 billion CuFt/day from a dedicated pair of 30-inch feeder lines from a dedicated gas field.

Here’s Doomberg’s analysis:

Given that he considers natural gas to be effectively unlimited, and that he seems to evading the likely impact on price by siphoning off a bunch to covert into ‘gasoil’ (effectively diesel, and good diesel at that, he calculates that the ‘ceiling price’ for the input feedstock for GTL oil is somewhere between $18 and $60 per barrel.

But let’s remember that the Pearl Facility has a lifespan and is expected to produce the equivalent of 3 billion barrels of oil during that time.

Some of that is the 120,000 barrels per day (or 120 kbd, with the k for ‘kilo’ or thousand) of NGLs that are sucked out and sent off to market.

The rest is 140,000 bd of ‘gasoil’ which is pretty good stuff. It’s diesel, but really clean as the sulfur is removed during a prior step.

You should expect what follows to be inaccurate in its precision due to a variety of unknowns, but it’s directionally correct.

Here are my back-of-the-spreadsheet calc’s. They proceed from top to bottom, so everyone should be able to follow along:

In the blue box at the top, what is the total energy in BTU’s of the 1.6 billion cubic feet (bcf) of NatGas? Answer: 1.648 trillion (with a “t”) BTUs. Per day as input feedstock.

Then the green box calculates the BTU content of the NG Liquids (and ethane) that are siphoned off and sent to market.

Below the green box are the calculations for the remaining balance of BTUs which come out the back end as 140,000 barrels per day of gasoil.

Those conversions tell us that almost exactly half of the 1.6 billion input BTUs come out the other side as 0.817 billion BTUs of gasoil. The other 0.818 were used up.

In other words, there’s a 50% process loss of the input energy!

Fully half of all the initial BTUs in the natural gas have been consumed in the process of turning that natural gas into gasoil.

So there’s a lot less natural gas abundance than we might initially think due to these process losses. I am not surprised to find losses of this magnitude either. They are well within the usual ball park of conversion losses when an energy source is pushed up the density curve. Every conversion of energy from one form to another leads to process losses. It’s a physical law.

Also, NG so deployed wouldn’t be available for other uses, such as heating or other industrial processes. And, I should endeavor to mention, all the natural gas produced already has a defined use, so the extent to which additional GTL processes are brought online would necessitate either the loss of that gas from other uses, or an expansion of production.

And none of this factors in the capital cost of the facility nor maintenance nor staffing.

According to Shell:

Pearl GTL’s control room is the nerve centre of one of the largest and most sophisticated plants ever built in the energy industry. The control room includes almost 1,000 circuitry control cabinets and 200 computer servers programmed with 12 million separate software codes. The system is linked to every part of the plant by almost 6,000 kilometres of cables, which would stretch from Doha to London if laid end-to-end.

It takes 800 operators and technicians to run Pearl GTL, now that the plant is in full operation.

At a $150k salary per FTE (guessing wildly here), that’s a $120,000,000 staffing cost per year.

All in I would say that this one example, built over a decade ago, is hardly the magic technology that we could scale up quickly.

It’s massively complex, takes very specialized workers, and it requires a massive gas field that can deliver for the 30-year amortized capital life of the project.

But even if it were to be pursued as ‘the solution’ this one plant, as massive as it is, is currently producing 51.1 Mb per year against a global consumption of 30 Gb of C+C (82M * 365) which pencils out to 0.16%.

Looked at another way, to offset a single 1Mbd decline in C+C would require the building of 7.1 of these facilities. So if the world falls from 82 to 81 Mbd of C+C as Dennis Coyne’s model suggests (which may or may not be accurate, I am merely using the data and models we have in hand) then that implies building 7 of these Pearl-scale GTLs by ~2029/30:

Then building 7 more every 3 years thereafter forever.

Does this seem likely to you? If so, how much of our future prosperity would you be willing to bet on this?

Finally, to me, using NG to “upgrade” into gasoil is a tragedy, not a triumph. It’s an unspeakably grave loss of 50% of the native energy capacity of natural gas to make up for our inability to plan properly.

We should instead convert our ICE vehicles to burn compressed NG directly and get closer to 100% of the energy from NG (less the cost of compressing it). This is a known, proven and workable concept that does not require a now-$40 billion facility with “1,000 circuitry control cabinets and 200 computer servers programmed with 12 million separate software codes. The system is linked to every part of the plant by almost 6,000 kilometres of cables, which would stretch from Doha to London if laid end-to-end.”

Beyond being a boneheaded thing to do, I judge this GTL concept as unworkable over the time frames needed to make a real difference.

In other words, Doomberg presented us with a too-light-on-the-math response that relies on a massive technological response (that may not even be feasible given the gas basins we have at our disposal) coupled with an overly strong flavoring of “aren’t humans clever?” mixed in.

It’s quite a lot to bet everything on…

As a closing point, Doomberg proposes that building out 5 - 10 Mbd of GTL capacity would do a lot to alleviate the pressure on oil supplies.

My quick run at the math makes this seem impractical as at the 10 mbd level that represents 100% of current US production which itself is slightly more than a quarter of current global NG production.

Each 1 Mbd of gasoil would consume a full 2.9% (rounding up) of current global natural gas production.

That is not insignificant.

Doable, sure, but it bears noting that 100% of produced natural gas (that is not merely flared and wasted) is already spoken for.

Increasing production is itself a very expensive proposition.

To put that in US terms where the US currently produces around 105 mbd, each 1 Mbd of gasoil would consume ~10% of US NG production, so 10 Mbd would consume 100%.

Again, how likely does this seem? Even installing a 1Mbd plant in the US, right on top of the Marcellus, would instantly consume 10% of US production. Europe would have to be told to take a hike because that alone would pretty much eat up the entire current surplus that is being exported as LNG.

Again, it’s quite a lot to bet everything on…

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

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Green Chickens Are A Real Thing
The Black Australorp is an exquisite chicken. From Chickens & More:
“The Black Australorp is a beautiful sight when the sunlight hits their black feathers which become a breathtaking iridescent green.
They are standard sized chickens that look imposing with their black feathering and upright carriage.
You will notice they have an upright single comb that should have seven points. Their wattles and earlobes are red and their beak is dark colored.
They have a solid rectangular shaped body. Their back is slightly dipped then rises up to the tail which is held at about a 45 degree angle.
Females will weigh between 6.6–8lb and males will weigh 8.5–10lb.”
Image from


@pico park Thank you for giving such useful information. What do you generally do during this difficult epidemic season? Your website is fantastic. I’m pleased with the information on this website.

Nat Gas To Rescue?

Natural gas is too nice of a fuel to waste in inefficient internal combustion engines, power plants or chemical conversion to synthetic oil.
It should be conserved as a source of instant high grade heat and chemical feed-stock.
It is subject to the same depletion issues as oil.


Show Me The Magic!

I can only think of one insurance policy of last resort and that is using the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert coal into oil. With this in mind, there are only two options available to provide the massive amounts of heat required to make synthetic oil at a large scale. Will the heat source be coal or nuclear?
I highly doubt there is enough political capital available to make coal an option. Can you imagine the tantrums from the large numbers of uninformed people? This leaves nuclear as the only viable option both technology wise and politically. There would be a lot of bellyaching from the left about using nuclear but this would likely not be enough to stop it.
The next problem is one that I don’t see us getting around in time. The current fleet of light water reactors are inefficient because they use water as a moderator and coolant. This caps the process heat temperatures to about 600 F. The use of a cobalt or iron catalyst is used to make synthetic fuel. Based on my low level and limited understanding, using the iron catalyst at 300 - 350 C is ideal. This means that the maximum temperatures that our operating reactors can is 315 C. Can we generate enough process heat at the required temperatures to replace the decline in oil production?
The better answer to the process heat problem would be an advanced reactor that can operate at much higher temperatures. I would prefer to use a Triso based fuel because of it’s ability to remain intact at temperatures of 1,800 C.
There is one major problem with using Triso. Where are you going to get it in the quantities needed? There is only 1 company in the USA making Triso fuel kernels. They are still refining the process of turning these fuel particles into an actual fuel compact. Even if Triso fuel compacts were being made in high volume, there are no reactor designs under review or approved by the NRC. The current time required to get a reactor design certified is many years and many tens of thousands of hours of review. The NRC bills about $300 an hour to perform these reviews. Absent a major change to the law, there is no getting around this review cost.
Nuscale has a NRC certified small modular reactor (SMR) design but they are in the process of laying off 40% of their work force because of the UAMPS project getting canceled. The AP1000 from Westinghouse is a NRC certified design but the only one completed in the USA is Vogtle unit #3 with unit #4 in the final stages of testing prior to commercial operation.
The US experience with the AP1000 has been nothing but an unmitigated shit show in the USA. VC Summer has an $8 billion dollar hole in the ground to show for their efforts and the Vogtle project is many years late and about $20 billion over budget. We are going to hear the rate payers of Georgia ranting about this for many years to come.
I was born in 1980 and learning about Hubbert in the mid 90s. This is part of the reason I decided to earn a degree in nuclear engineering. I have written the congress critters many times with no response. There is zero excuse for the leadership of the USA to not have known about this problem. They instead pushed bullshit in the form of green energy on us. Get ready folks! Physics gives no fucks what we want or think. You either work within the rules of physics or it will force you to. This was all preventable and I bet politicians 20 years ago knew it but they did not care because they would be dead. Thus not their problem.


I Never Take A Cartoon Seriously.



i’ll trust a real green chicken over doomberg on energy issues.



Get ready folks! Physics gives no fucks what we want or think. You either work within the rules of physics or it will force you to. This was all preventable and I bet politicians 20 years ago knew it but they did not care because they would be dead. Thus not their problem.
Remember, it didn't have to be this way.

I’ll take a green chicken over a black swan!

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I think that we will eventually transition to fuel cells to fill in the gaps left by declining oil production. I believe that it is a matter of “when” and not “if”. The real question is how much pain are we willing to tolerate before the fickle public starts supporting an energy policy that is favorable to fuel cells. Solid oxide fuel cells is a mature technology that can use either H2 or natural gas as a fuel source. Another big plus for fuel cells is the O2 supply. Pulling O2 out of the air would save us a lot of weight.
I bought a lot of OPTI shares many years ago. The company later went bankrupt and was purchased by the Chinese. I lost a lot of money buying OPTI shares prior to the bankruptcy. I invested in OPTI because the Long Lake syncrude facility can produce 58,500 barrels a day if all systems were functioning as designed. Perhaps the Canadian oil sands will be the next big energy fad.

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Upgrading Old Oil Fields

I worked with oil in the past and it is my understanding that there is a sizable portion of oil that was not recovered from wells given the technology of the day and is still in the ground. New technologies will be able to reopen old wells and recover what was missed. I know that Russian oil extraction has not been very efficient in the initial recovery process. Im sure this issue exits with other oil fields around the world. In the recent discussion and debate that Chris initiated (quite professionally), this subject seems to have been ignored. Any update on this matter?

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Am I right, in light of this discussion, to be bullish on oil and SUPER ULTRA bullish on drilling companies… Because my family members thinks I’m absolutely insane to be bullish on commodities in general and they think I’m basically throwing $s out of window…?
Also I’m surprised that Doomberg didn’t look at this angle as Chris did as a one of the major energy expert that is appearing on a lot of podcasts discussing energy…

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Das Doomberg Ist Only For Capital Clicks

Keith Watson and Margo Ten Eyck (Doomberg) are both former Dow Chemical Co employees and brainbox snarkaholics.
“nuclear waste is a canard…” Yes, Mr Watson believes in the Kochean Universe. I believe they are just a honeypot for content generation and corporatist Prop-o-gandering.

Your right they’ve milked the Bass Straight field over the decades, with progressing technology. I was even told that they would shut down wells to let the oil seep back into them from the surrounding rock and then draw that off, repeatedly.


I too am a former dow chemical employee. I knew Keith Watson early in his career. He struck me as extremely ambitious and his first (dare I say only) priority was getting promoted. He would agree with anything that the boss said. Not many people trusted him. I have no idea if he is affiliated with doomberg.


LPG for transport has been well developed as you stated Chris. Here in Victoria, Aust, we went LPG crazy in the 80’s, LPG conversions were everywhere, Taxi’s predominately. Then the price of gas went up, and the prevailing economic argument to convert to LPG (~50% of the price for petrol/litre), was lost. Of course in the mean time we’ve gone through the ‘Natural Gas is evil’ also campaign. Now as petrol is hovering around the $2/l mark I’ve noticed LPG is now back under the 50% mark in places. So will we see gas conversions take off again? I doubt it as Gas is evil remember! It also seems that the lower petrol price is countered by a higher gas price. ‘Market forces’ perhaps.

Recently I watched a video of David (Avocado) Wolfe and he mentioned something along these lines, except the shutting down part. He said that he got it from people in the field themselves that oil fields fill back up after some time, as long as they are connected to the source rock/ material. And that the oil shortage story is a fabricated one. Unfortunately he didn’t go into details or mention any names. I was intrigued to say the least. You saying this gives what Wolfe said more credence. Now I have two sources saying similar things.

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How Do We Know We Found The Last 3 Counties In The Usa?

Playing devils advocate (and understanding that we should have BETTER plans, like CNG for vehicles, Thorium Salt Reactors, etc etc etc).
There is a strong argument that these are NOT Fossils, as that many “bones” never existed on the planet. (Look at 8 billion people, plus all of the animals, calculate the bio mass, apply the compaction/compression/transformation… I don’t think it’s proven that these are from fossils, and KEEP IN MIND the push to call them Fossils was the push to make them seem scarce. Only evidence is that Rockefeller pushed for this).
Next. NOBODY in business, sitting on a FUTURE SITE of oil is going to say “Yeah, we have 3 more locations, just like Midland, TX”. So, there is definitely the potential to HIDE where we will go next.
I Could be wrong. I’ve bought into Peak Oil 30 years ago. And I KNEW that by 2020 we would be DOOMED. That was a painful lesson in many ways.
Again, we are HORRIBLE Stewards of our resources if we leave a crappy situation to our children.
But how do we know how much oil is out there? Have we drilled MI, OH, IN, CA to the point where it is known to be futile? Is there a geological argument that says it’s ONLY here (and not in Alaska?).
The same argument that says “This is the story of 3 Counties”… IMPLIES that this could be the story of 3 different counties, does it not?
Also, last I checked, the earth was HUGE. Could it be that if we drill 5 miles deeper we can find more/older deposits? Also, as drilling gets cheaper. I can IMAGINE a world where everyone who wants to have GEOTHERMAL (my BFF has done this). Takes a lottery ticket shot with his 35 acres, and actually has them drill WAY down, looking for oil. And maybe ending up with even better geothermal if there is no oil…
Clearly with deep respect.
And this should not stop us from building Nuclear Power to provide 100% of our electricity needs, and dis-assembling our EMP RISK (called our power grid).

Pearl Gtl

What is not mentioned is that natural gas is just burned off to produce oil. It happens all over America, and before the Pearl Plant was built, what do you thing happened to all that gas? It was a waste product of liquid oil extraction. There was no great demand for LPG. There were no facilities on the potential receiving end to re-gasify the liquid. The Pearl Plant was built not to produce a cheap liquid oil, but to prevent wasting the natural gas using burn towers to dispose of what is still a waste product problem in the USA today.

Tat’s not how I understand it. The Pearl facility was built to take advantage of an otherwise stranded gas field that Qatar just had lying around.
It’s not there to more efficiently use a wasted/flared gas stream.

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