Hubbert linearization

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The Hubbert Linearization is a way to plot production data to estimate two important parameters of a Hubbert curve:

  • the logistic growth rate and
  • the quantity of the resource that will be ultimately recovered.

The Hubbert curve is the first derivative of a Logistic function, which has been used in modeling depletion of crude oil, predicting the Hubbert peak, population growth predictions[1] and the depletion of finite mineral resources.[2] The linearization technique was introduced by Marion King Hubbert in his 1982 review paper.[3]


Example of a Hubbert Linearization on the US Lower-48 crude oil production.

The first step of the Hubbert linearization consists of plotting the yearly production data (P in bbl/y) as a fraction of the cumulative production (Q in bbl) on the vertical axis and the cumulative production on the horizontal axis. This representation exploits the linear property of the logistic differential equation:


  • k as logistic growth rate and
  • URR as the ultimately recoverable resource.

We can rewrite (1) as the following:

The above relation is a line equation in the P/Q versus Q plane. Consequently, a linear regression on the data points gives us an estimate of the line slope calculated by -k/URR and intercept from which we can derive the Hubbert curve parameters:

  • The k parameter is the intercept of the vertical axis.
  • The URR value is the intercept of the horizontal axis.


The geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes applied this technique in 2005 to make a prediction about the peak of overall oil production, which has since been found to be premature. He did not make a distinction between "conventional" and "non-conventional" oil produced by fracturing, aka tight oil, which has continued further growth in oil production.[4]

US oil production[edit]

The charts below gives an example of the application of the Hubbert Linearization technique in the case of the US Lower-48 oil production. The fit of a line using the data points from 1956 to 2005 (in green) gives a URR of 199 Gb and a logistic growth rate of 6%.

Norway oil production[edit]

The Norwegian Hubbert linearization estimates an URR = 30 Gb and a logistic growth rate of k = 17%.

Alternative techniques[edit]

Second Hubbert linearization[edit]

The Hubbert linearization principle can be extended to the second derivatives[5] by computing the derivative of (2):

The left term is often called the decline rate.

Hubbert parabola[edit]

This representation was proposed by Roberto Canogar[6] and applied to the oil depletion problem:

Logit transform[edit]

David Rutledge applied the logit transform for the analysis of coal production data[7], which often has a worse signal-to-noise ratio than the production data for hydrocarbons. The integrative nature of cumulation serves as a low pass, filtering noise effects. The production data is fitted to the logistic curve after transformation using e(t) as normalized exhaustion parameter going from 0 to 1.

The value of URR is varied so that the linearized logit gives a best fit with a maximal coefficient of determination .

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Roper, David. "Projection of World Population". Archived from the original on 2007-02-18.
  2. ^ Roper, David. "Where Have All the Metals Gone?" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28.
  3. ^ M. King Hubbert: Techniques of Prediction as Applied to the Production of Oil and Gas, in: Saul I. Gass (ed.): Oil and Gas Supply Modeling, National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 631, Washington: National Bureau of Standards, 1982, pp. 16-141.
  4. ^ Deffeyes, Kenneth (February 24, 2005). Beyond Oil - The view from Hubbert's peak. Hill and Wang. ISBN 978-0-8090-2956-3.
  5. ^ Khebab (2006-08-18). "A Different Way to Perform the Hubbert Linearization". The Oil Drum.
  6. ^ Canogar, Roberto (2006-09-06). "The Hubbert Parabola". GraphOilogy.
  7. ^ Rutledge, David (2011-01-01). "Estimating long-term world coal production with logit and probit transforms". International Journal of Coal Geology. Elsevier. 85: 23–33. doi:10.1016/j.coal.2010.10.012.