Revised 2 December 2023

The production of an individual oil field typically follows that of an initial growth period, a plateau as set by the drilling company, and then a decline in the rate of production as shown in Figure 25 (Hubbert 1956 & 1974). 

Figure 1: Typical Oil Field History (based on Hubbert 1956 & 1974) 

Marion King Hubbert (1956), a geologist, developed what is now known as the Hubbert’s Curve as shown in Figure 26 which predicted that the production of all oil fields in the United States would peak in 1970. His prediction was one year out. 

Figure 2: Hubbert’s Curve (based on Hubbert 1956 & 1974) 

Hubbert based his prediction on the rate and scale of new oil field explorations and the production history of individual oil fields. The Hubbert Curve predicts the peaking of production of oil fields when about half the available oil field reserves had been produced. The rate of oil production subsequently declines.