Current models of lithospheric deformation that involve the concept of proximity to a critical point in its statistical mechanical sense are reviewed in the context of implications for fluid flow in hydrocarbon reservoirs. The data from hydrocarbon fields that support the applicability of this concept are listed. In particular, spatial and temporal correlations of fluctuations in oilfield production and injection rates are assessed. The long-range spatial characteristics of these correlations provide strong support for the reservoirs being close to a point of criticality, at least during their development lifetimes. The implications for reservoirs simulation modelling, data acquisition and future research to further elucidate this area are outlined. © The Geological Society of London 2007.