M. King Hubbert

M. King Hubbert
Death date
Associated organizations
Amerada Petroleum, Columbia University, Shell Oil
Fields of study


M. King Hubbert gained fame for his prediction of "peak oil," marking the height of oil production followed by irreversible decline, and sometimes referred to as "Hubbert's Peak." He first became known in 1949 for his estimation of energy resources and their patterns of depletion. Hubbert worked as a geologist in Texas and Oklahoma for Amerada Petroleum in the late 1920s, taught geology and geophysics at Columbia University during the 1930s, and was a research geophysicist and consultant for Shell Oil and Shell Development companies for more than 20 years. A member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Hubbert's papers on the theory of groundwater motion and the mechanics of hydraulic fracturing are considered landmark studies. In 1956, he developed a curve-at the time, known as "Hubbert's Pimple"-- that illustrated the cycle of US crude from startup to peak to rapid decline. Later, he applied the theory to global oil production.

Hubbert was a member of SPE and its predecessor organizations for more than 50 years; he was Program Chairman for the Gulf Coast section during the 1940s and was a Distinguished Lecturer during 1963-64. He received the Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal in 1971, and was both an SPE Distinguished Member and Honorary Member. He died in 1989 at the age of 86.