Hirsch report

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The Hirsch report is a report done for the US Department of Energy and published in February 2005. It discussed the likelihood of peak oil occurring and how soon we need to take mitigating action.

The Lead Author, Robert Hirsch, published a brief summary of this report in October 2005 for the Atlantic Council. Posted at http://www.acus.org/docs/051007-Hirsch_World_Oil_Production.pdf

For a biography of Robert Hirsch see http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/hirsch_bio.htm



"The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking."


  • World Oil Peaking is Going to Happen
  • Oil Peaking Could Cost the U.S. Economy Dearly
  • Oil Peaking Presents a Unique Challenge (“it will be abrupt and revolutionary”)
  • The Problem is Liquid Fuels (growth in demand mainly from transportation sector)
  • Mitigation Efforts Will Require Substantial Time
  • Both Supply and Demand Will Require Attention
  • It Is a Matter of Risk Management (mitigating action must come before the peak)
  • Government Intervention Will be Required
  • Economic Upheaval is Not Inevitable (“given enough lead-time, the problems are soluble with existing technologies.”)
  • More Information is Needed

Three scenarios

  • Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.
  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 10 years before world oil peaking helps considerably but still leaves a liquid fuels shortfall roughly a decade after the time that oil would have peaked.
  • Initiating a mitigation crash program 20 years before peaking appears to offer the possibility of avoiding a world liquid fuels shortfall for the forecast period.

See also


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