(International Business Times) At the outset of the global economic meltdown in 2008, the world was already bracing for another crisis: peak oil. Predictions that oil production would soon top out flooded the airwaves, stoking fears of a global oil shortfall and fueling speculation of prices at hundreds of dollars a barrel.

“People have been trying very hard and they can’t increase oil production from here,” Robert Hirsch, an energy analyst, said in a June 2008 segment on CNBC. He projected oil production would peak, and then decline sharply within three to five years. “For somebody to suggest that all of a sudden something magic is going to happen, and there’s going to all of a sudden be an enormous amount of new oil — they don’t understand the problem,” he added.

How times have changed. Eight years on, oil output has risen dramatically. Large leaps in oil field technologies, like horizontal drilling, and the U.S. hydraulic fracturing boom have unleashed more crude supply than analysts and oil industry experts anticipated during the height of peak oil predictions. Three oil and gas rigs owned by Transocean Ltd sit idle in the Grand Harbor in Valletta, Malta, Oct. 22, 2015. America’s domestic production has nearly doubled over that time, reaching 9.4 million barrels a day last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated . Total global oil production swelled by nearly 11 percent, rising from 86.5 million barrels a day in 2008 to nearly 96 million in 2015, according to the agency.

“Our community would concede that we underestimated or didn’t quite understand this whole fracking thing,” said Jan Lars Mueller, executive director of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil USA, a national network for scientists, researchers and energy observers. “It exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Hirsch acknowledged his projections put him in “the ‘wrong’ column,” he said by phone with a laugh. “I thought we had pretty good information, so I stuck my neck out and said three to five years.”

Still, the peak oil naysayers hardly have reason to gloat. The supply of oil may be rising, but the nature of the fuel mix is changing quickly, adding greater uncertainty to the long-term outlook for the world’s largest energy source.

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