With recent changes in the price of oil, the policy debate has intensified.
A Sustainable Energy Blueprint for the Next Administration by Ken Bossong [2004 October 4]
Set America Free: A Blueprint for U.S. Energy Security, from the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) [2004 September 27]
Winning the Oil Endgame, from RMI See also Military Facts [2004 September]
"Winning the Oil Endgame offers a coherent strategy for ending oil dependence.... This synthesis is the first roadmap of the oil solution—one led by business for profit, not dictated by government for reasons of ideology. This roadmap is independent, peer-reviewed, written for business and military leaders, and co-funded by the Pentagon."
Suggesting that a reduction of the addiction to oil is cost-effective is cute. What is the difficulty with recognizing that nature no longer gives us a choice in the matter? [Editor]
A Modest Proposal (with apologies to Jonathan Swift) by Bill Armstrong [1999 June]
"Sometime in the interval between publication of Rachael Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 and the Club of Rome's report, The Limits to Growth in 1972, we more or less admitted to ourselves that we have deeply offended Mother Nature, and that unless we straighten up, sooner or later she will ..."
The Press | Geologists | Governments | Industry
Below are news and scientific articles, editorials and press releases concerning the ongoing debate about the coming global oil crisis (updated most recently on 2000 May 24). Unfortunately many links are out of date. Dead links are kept to provide clues for the serious investigator to have an easier time of tracking down sources.
The Scientific and Popular Press
Explore revelations of the press confirming or denying the experts' prognosis for the Global Hubbert Peak and our future global energy situation (in chronological order, most recent first).
- Simmons & Company International
The Energy Markets In 2000 - Running On Empty? [pdf, 533 kb] "The world should not have turned out this way...." presented at the Pareto Fonds and Simmons & Company International Oil Service Conference, Oslo, Norway, May 24, 2000 and [ no longer available at http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/web/downloads/whitepaper.pdf ] The Oil World: 1973 Compared to 2000, April 7, 2000, both by Matthew Simmons.
- Resources for the Future
The Surge in Oil Prices: Anatomy of a Non-Crisis. "Federal Steps to Reduce Oil Prices Could Harm the Economy, RFF Paper Says Federal action to reduce oil prices, either by rolling back the federal gasoline tax or tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, "would bring little benefit to consumers and [could] do much to harm the economy." John Anderson, April, 2000
- San Jose Mercury News
Oil-rich Kazakhstan could ease U.S. pain. "Gas prices have rocketed ... and as tempers flare politicians look for ways to ease Americans' pain. The search for a major alternative source of oil is an obvious option and a primary reason Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will spend a week in the oil-rich Caspian Sea region beginning April 14.... In 1998 the State Department estimated the Caspian region has reserves of oil and gas at 178 billion barrels or more... A major portion of this wealth is in western Kazakhstan....." William Ratliff, April 4, 2000.
- San Jose Mercury News
Lockyer offers no relief from rising gas prices. "What we need to do is figure out how to not have this happen year after year after year." Dion Nissenbaum, dnissenbaum at sjmercury.com, (916) 441-4603, Mercury News Sacramento Bureau, April 1, 2000.
- Alliance for a Paving Moratorium
A Positive Alternative: Environmental Restoration and Economic Revival. "The U.S. spends nearly $200,000,000 per day building and rebuilding roads, in spite of predictions that congestion and delays will only get worse." Jan Lundberg.
Saudi Response Pleases Energy Secretary. "U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Saturday he was encouraged by Saudi Arabia's response to his pleas for the world's largest oil producer to increase output to help ease high prices." Michael Georgy, February 26, 2000.
Energy Secretary to Saudi in Crucial Oil Talks. "U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson flew to Saudi Arabia Friday to ask the world's largest oil producer to help reduce oil prices after receiving a cautious response in OPEC member Kuwait. His visit is crucial because the kingdom is a dominant force in OPEC and holds influence outside it due to its ownership of the world's biggest reserves and its role as a key supplier to the United States. Like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia is expected to stick in public by a pledge from Gulf Arab states to work with other producers to stabilize the buoyant market and avoid harming the world economy." Ashraf Fouad, February 25, 2000.
- Sacramento Bee
High diesel cost hurting truckers: Consumers likely will pay the price later."All of agriculture is going to feel the higher diesel prices," said Gary Merwin, a farmer in the Clarksburg area. "It doesn't matter what you grow, you burn fuel...." Douglas Sorantino, a New Jersey truck driver told the Associated Press: "We're dying. We need help now. If they don't do it tomorrow, we won't be around 60 or 90 days from now." Bill Lindelof and Paul Schnitt, Bee Staff Writers, February 23, 2000.
- A Personal Website
Future Trends - Petroleum And Natural Gas. "If you were asked by a 20 year old whether she should start saving for her retirement or simply rely on Social Security; most of us would encourage her to plan ahead. We might even point out that Social Security for such a young person might be iffy in the future. ... We are running out of oil.... Whether you accept this information will not change the outcome. As a psychologist I know we use various defense mechanisms to hide the truth from ourselves. Hiding from these facts will not change them. " John Weber, February 2000.
Energy and the Environment: The Twin Challenges of the 21st Century. "The good news is that the world is not running out of oil. ... Low-cost and secure supplies of energy are needed to sustain economic growth around the globe..." Dennis R. Minano, Vice President, Environment & Energy and Chief Environmental Officer, General Motors Corporation, December 8-9, 1999.
- Policy Pete
Petroleum Policy and Geopolitics. "Spoils of the Cold War: Is the Oil of Central Asia Rightfully Ours? Pete wouldn't have thought so, but that appears to be the curious view of Lt.-Gen. William E. Odom, USA, Ret." Policy Pete(?), 1999(?).
- The New Scientist
Dry future. "When a geologist warns the oil's running out, we should listen... The world is probably only two years off peak oil production, after which decline is inevitable. Meanwhile, ... the industry is in denial about the looming crisis. The industry's statistics don't reflect any of this. In its annual review, the oil company BP suggests that there is an ever-rising tide of oil discovery. But this, Campbell says, is just sleight of hand." Fred Pearce, 10 July 1999.
- Discover Magazine
Why we'll never run out of oil. "Who needs alternative energy sources? Technical savvy is likely to keep us swimming in oil for at least the next 100 years or so." Curtis Rist, Vol. 20 No. 6, June 1999.
Are We Really Running Out of Fossil Fuels? "Most people believe the world is running out of fossil fuels. .... Not necessarily, according to Robert L. Bradley, Jr., president of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston, Texas, and author of this week's Energy Industry Insider Commentary, "The Growing Abundance of Fossil Fuels." In fact, he says, 'fossil fuels will remain affordable in any reasonably foreseeable future.'" By Charlotte LeGates, Energy.com Editor, May 10, 1999.
- The Cato Institute
The Increasing Sustainability of Conventional Energy. "Fossil-fuel resources are becoming more abundant, not scarcer, and promise to continue expanding as technology improves, world markets liberalize, and investment capital expands." Robert L. Bradley Jr., April 22, 1999.
- Los Angeles Times
Gas Prices Fit for Chicken Little. "There's no shortage today of outrage over gasoline prices; if we could
fuel cars with anger, prices would go right down again. Nor is there a
shortage of irony for anybody with an inkling of what the world's oil
situation is really like." Richard Anderson April 8, 1999.
- James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University
Emerging Technology in the Energy Industry and Its Impact on Supply, Security, Markets and the Environment. "Emerging capabilities in the oil and gas drilling industry--multitasking rigs, advanced reservoir visualization and monitoring systems, ice and salt-piercing seismic equipment, and extended-reach drilling equipment, to name a few--will help expand hydrocarbon production for years to come." March 1999.
- Washington Post
Y2K Risks Are Widespread, Senate Panel Report Says.. "Venezuela and Saudi Arabia lag from a year to 18 months behind the United States in Y2K preparations, raising concerns about the availability of oil and other critical imports, the report said." By Stephen Barr, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, February 24, 1999, Page A04. [weblink no longer available]
- The International Center for Technology Assessment
The Real Price of Gasoline. "This report ... identifies and quantifies the many external costs of using motor vehicles and the internal combustion engine that are not reflected in the retail price Americans pay for gasoline.... Together, these external costs ... result in a per gallon price of $5.60 to $15.14 [in the USA]." International Center for Technology Assessment, Washington, DC 20002, November 16, 1998.
- Science News Online
Geologists anticipate an oil crisis soon. "Cheap oil has helped fuel the economic boom of the 1990s. But petroleum prices will jump drastically in the near future, as the world starts to feel the pinch of tightening hydrocarbon supplies, according to several forecasts." R. Monastersky, October 31, 1998.
- New York Times
U.S. Splurging on Energy After Falling Off Its Diet. "Twenty-five years after an oil embargo proved that fuel supplies were neither reliable nor endlessly cheap, the United States has given up almost all the gains it made in conserving energy." Allen R. Myerson, October 22, 1998.
- Washington Post
Azerbaijan Riches Alter the Chessboard. "The ties between Amoco and Azerbaijan -- and Amoco's role in pushing the United States closer to this Caspian nation -- reflect a complex new choreography involving oil companies, big powers and regional governments vying for influence in the strategic borderlands between Russia and the Middle East." Dan Morgan and David B. Ottaway, Washington Post Staff Writers, Sunday, October 4, 1998, Page A01. [weblink no longer available]
- Environment News Service
End New Oil Exploration, World Energy Council Told . "Challenging oil industry leaders gathered for the 75th ... Congress of the World Energy Council, Rainforest Action Network and Project Underground today released a report assessing the threat of new petroleum exploration to the climate, the environment and indigenous peoples. The report "Drilling to the Ends of the Earth" makes the case for stopping new exploration." September 15, 1998.
- The Observer
Energy apocalypse looms as the world runs out of oil . " The world faces a devastating oil crisis in the early years of the new millennium, according to a new assessment of conventional oil reserves...." by Peter Beaumont and John Hooper, The Observer, Sunday July 26, 1998.
- Forbes Magazine
Cheap oil: enjoy it while it lasts. "NOT THIS YEAR, nor the next, but maybe as soon as five years hence, oil prices will start to rise, says Franco Bernabé, chief executive of the Italian oil company ENI SpA. Well before 2010, he believes, the world will be vulnerable to 1970s-style oil shocks." by Howard Banks, Forbes, June 15, 1998.
- Rocky Mountain Institute
Oil, Oil Everywhere... Are We Running Out of It or Aren't We? "There are many good reasons the world should be weaning itself away from oil, but scarcity isn't one of them.... Reserves are increasing, and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, according to Irvin 'Chip' Bupp, managing director of Cambridge Energy Research Associates and an RMI Board member.... Amory Lovins believes the forces of efficiency and substitution are so powerful that they'll outpace depletion...." RMI Newsletter, Spring 1998.
- The Gold Eagle
After the Lull: Sharply Rising Oil Prices Ahead. "The emerging capacity use squeeze within OPEC will drive oil prices relentlessly upwards. Any disruption of the oil supply - and there are numerous potential causes - will send oil prices off the charts in flashes reminiscent of 1974 and 1979.... The rising prices will surprise the consensus forecasters who heretofore have been lulled into complacency by the long period of flat oil prices. In 1997 and 1998 oil buyers will become frantic as they realize oil output is approaching the maximum (i.e. capacity utilization at 98%). Subsequently, the price advance toward $40-$50 per barrel will cause economic chaos in the industrialized world and emerging economies." Vronsky and Westerman, 1997.
- Business Week
The New Economics of Oil. "... [T]here's another scenario--namely, that oil prices ... won't rise at all over the long term. They may even fall. Why? because demand growth can't push prices upward as long as it is balanced by supply growth. And the supply curve for oil--the amount offered at any given price--is being pushed steadily outward, thanks to technology." November 3, 1997
- Auto Analyst
The Decline of the Oil Age. "The automotive industry is skating on thin ice -- or rather on thin oil. All the oil that humanity is ever likely to extract from the earth would spread over the earth's surface in a film that is about the thickness of only a spark-plug gap! Humanity is using up its endowment of oil with carefree abandon, leaving precious little time to redirect industry priorities before oil availability goes into permanent global decline." R. B. Swenson in the Quarterly Newsletter of the Society of Automotive Analysts, Summer 1997.
Energy: World oil will dry up in mid-century by Ehsan Masood. "The world's oil reserves are expected to run out by the middle of the next century unless oil consumption is reduced, according to a leading petroleum geologist from the United States. Dr. Craig Bond Hatfield, who is at the University of Toledo, Ohio, says the 1,000 billion barrels of known global oil reserves are expected to run out by 2036 unless the current 69-million-barrels-per-day consumption of oil is brought down." Nature Science Update, 15 May 1997.
- on the web
If oil gets as rare as diamonds, what should a fill-up cost?. -- "Lio will have totally altered all our lives in scarcely a century and a half, and then will withdraw from us, little by little, while we fight each other for what remains of our once generous servant's gifts." by Charles E. Mac Arthur.
- e design
"Joy Ride to Global Collapse" -- "Here's a prediction for you. In the next two decades millions of Americans will begin a serious search for an alternative to the gasoline-powered automobile. It is not going to be a happy search...." from e design Online, commentary by Jim Minter, December 5 1996.
- The Australian
"Running On Empty" -- "The world still has plenty of oil, but extracting it is becoming increasingly expensive." John Macleay reports on Thursday, 24 Oct 1996, page 27.
- The Australian
"Engineer in Race to Develop Oil Alternative" -- "CALIFORNIAN solar engineer Ron Swenson believes in working on technologies that could one day provide a substitute for oil - and bringing them on-stream in a reasonable time frame - instead of hand-wringing over dwindling reserves.." John Macleay reports on Thursday, 24 Oct 1996, page 27.
"Experts See World Oil Dependence Continuing" -- "Politicians get very excited about alternative fuels. But there will be no alternative for oil and gas for many years to come...For the next 30 to 50 years oil will remain the foundation of energy", from a Conference in Dubai, by Reuters, May 13, 1996
- The Atlantic Monthly
"Mideast Oil Forever?" -- "Congressional budget-cutters threaten to end America's leadership in new energy technologies that could generate hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs, reduce damage to the environment, and limit our costly, dangerous dependency on oil from the unstable Persion Gulf region," Joseph J. Romm and Charles B. Curtis, The Atlantic Monthly, April, 1996.
"The Tent of Saud" -- a Commentary on the political situation in Saudia Arabia from Worth Magazine, November 1995.
- The News
"Study Says World Oil Output will Peak in 1999" -- an article from The News, Mexico City's English-language newspaper, April 1, 1994.
- Popular Science
An editorial from Popular Science, October 1993
1989: "Oil and Gas Estimates Plummet" | 1995: "U S Oil and Gas Fields Double in Size" -- Here are two amusingly contradictory reports about USGS studies in Science, a respected "scientific" journal, 22 September 1989 and 24 February 1995. This study has convinced others besides the editors of Science. In what is otherwise a very thorough and useful reference on automobile fuels, Bruce Hamilton criticizes Hubbert and cites the 1995 USGS study in usenet's FAQ about automobile technology (see its section 4.2) to bolster his argument. It helps to "read the fine print."
Geologists and Researchers
- Dr. Colin J. Campbell
"A Guide to Determining the World's Endowment and Depletion of Oil", March, 1998, and more
- Richard Duncan
Several articles and templates relating to a new model for predicting world oil futures
- Brian Fleay
Several articles on the Australian perspective
- Craig Bond Hatfield
How Long Can Oil Supply Grow?
- M. King Hubbert
Several articles including some of his work in economics
- L. F. Ivanhoe
"Get Ready For Another Oil Shock!" and several other articles
- Jean Laherrère
Several articles, some in French
Maintaining the most comprehensive database of oil statistics in the world.
- Edward Renshaw, Professor of Economics, State University of New York at Albany
"Inflation and Natural Resource Scarcity: Can There Be Another Recession Without an Oil Price Shock?"
- World Resources Institute
Oil as a finite resource: When is global production likely to peak?. "The skyrocketing gasoline and diesel fuel prices of winter and early spring 2000 are the direct result of a deliberate ... reduction in global crude oil production by the OPEC cartel. The demonstrated sensitivity of oil product prices to a relatively small reduction in supply should serve as a sober example of what could well happen in the relatively near future when global crude production begins its inevitable decline, not as a result of an OPEC decision, but of an inability of producers to continue expanding production of what is, ultimately, a finite resource." (March 2000) This an update to A Guide to the Global Environment / Energy and Materials. "Estimates of global petroleum reserves have increased over the past decade (up 43 percent between 1984 and 1994), primarily due to major reevaluations of oil reserves in 1987 and 1989 in the Middle East.... Since 1989, however, new discoveries, additions, and revisions have broadly matched the world's production, leaving total reserves basically unchanged." ... more James J. MacKenzie, March 1996, Updated 2000.
- U.S. Geological Survey
USGS Reassesses Potential World Petroleum Resources: Oil Estimates Up, Gas Down. "The U.S. Geological Survey's latest assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the world reports an increase in global energy resources, with a 20 percent increase in undiscovered oil and a slight decrease in undiscovered natural gas.... We now estimate the total amount of future technically recoverable [emphasis added] oil, outside the U.S., to be about 2120 billion barrels." Thomas Ahlbrandt, March 22, 2000.
- The International Energy Agency
The World's Energy in Charts and Graphs. As recently as 1996, the IEA stated that: "World oil demand is projected to rise from 70 million barrels per day at present to between 92 and 97 million barrels per day in 2010." At that time the IEA did not suggest that there would be any difficulties in meeting that demand.
Now, however, as a consequence of meetings held in the fall of 1997 with Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Jean Laherrère, the IEA has revised its projections and states in its report for the G8 Energy Ministers' Meeting in Moscow held on 31 March - 1 April 1998, World Energy Prospects to 2020, in the section on Oil Supply Prospects: "This approach ... indicates that a peaking of conventional oil production could occur between years 2010 and 2020, depending on assumptions for the level of reserves."
The IEA was formed in 1974 under terms of the Agreement on an International Energy Program to confront the threat of oil supply manipulation:
"THE GOVERNMENTS OF [participating nations], DESIRING to promote secure oil supplies on reasonable and equitable terms.... CONCLUDE that it is necessary to establish an International Energy Program to be implemented through an International Energy Agency, and to that end, HAVE AGREED [amongst many other points, to the]
... exchange of information on such matters as resources, supply and demand, price and taxation; ... ways and means for reducing the growth of consumption of imported oil through the development of alternative sources of energy; ... Energy research and development..."
On the basis of this mandate, it is clear that it is the obligation of IEA member states to report oil reserves accurately, reduce growth of imports, and prepare for alternatives to oil accordingly. Are the members holding up their end of the bargain?
- US Energy Information Agency
25th Anniversary of the 1973 Oil Embargo. "This marks the 25th anniversary of the energy crisis of 1973, in some ways the most pivotal year in energy history. Anniversaries are often a time of reflection. In this spirit, the Energy Information Administration presents here 30 major energy trends in the United States over this period. Taken as a whole, these measures provide a picture of how this country has responded to the crisis a quarter century ago." Jay E. Hakes, Administrator, Energy Information Administration, September 3, 1998.
- US Energy Information Agency
"International Energy Outlook 1996" with projections to 2015." A brief summary can be seen here: "EIA Forecasts World Oil Demand of 99 Million Barrels per Day in 2015 -- Adequate Supplies to Meet 50 Percent Growth in Total Energy Demand," May 16, 1996
- The US Geological Survey (USGS)
"Executive Summary of the 1995 National Assessment of the United States Oil and Gas Resources," 1995.
"World Conventional Crude Oil and Natural Gas: Identified Reserves, Undiscovered Resources and Futures," This report summarizes, at the petroleum basin level, the United States Geological Surveys World Energy Program 1993 assessment of world conventional oil and gas resources. Open-File Report 98-468 by C. D. Masters, D. H. Root, and R. M. Turner, 1998.
- US Government Accounting Office (GAO)
Year 2000 Computing Crisis, Readiness of the Oil and Gas Industries (PFD File). "All phases of operations in the oil and gas industries -- from production [sic] to distribution -- use computer systems and equipment that are subject to Year 2000 failures... [R]isks remain... leaving little time for resolving unexpected problems." Joel C. Willemssen, Director, Civil Agencies Information Systems, GAO, May 1999.
The Petroleum Industry
Learn about the world oil situation as the oil industry sees it. We continue to look for more and better data from the oil industry. As material becomes available on the WWWeb, we will provide links to those sites.
- Where we've been and where we're going in the quest to meet future demand for oil and gas
In 1972, the Club of Rome, a group of scholars and academics, published a much-discussed book, Limits to Growth. They argued that by the end of the 20th century, the world would begin to exhaust its extractive resources, causing ecological collapse, worldwide hunger and a global economic crisis.
"As we now know, the Club of Rome was wrong. There were many reasons why its forecast was off the mark... since 1973 [production] has increased substantially...
"How was that possible? The simple answer is technology.... We will, of course, have to continue to develop new technology, with special attention paid to those 'breakthrough' opportunities..."
- The American Petroleum Institute
"Representing the nation's oil and gas industries."
- See also "The American Petroleum Institute, through its work in industry and policy issue analysis, has developed the following information on gasoline prices..."
- "Reinventing Energy", a press release about a report [Are We Running Out of Oil?] from the American Petroleum Institute: "A dramatic, arbitrary reduction in the use of oil -- as some environmentalists and government officials now urge -- would require Americans to make wrenching economic and personal sacrifices because oil products support the current pattern of American lifestyles and existing alternatives are either unaffordable or technologically infeasible on a wide-scale basis....", November 13, 1995.
- After viewing this article, read an open letter in reply to Mr. Porter, author of the API study, from Dr. Colin. J. Campbell, Geologist
- British Petroleum
Oil supply crunch a receding nightmare . "The West's nightmare of a global energy crunch is receding as the world's oil seekers replace reserves at a faster rate than consumers use them, British Petroleum analysts said on Tuesday," June 18, 1996. [Note: Contrast this with the statement above by the World Resources Institute.]
- BP Exploration
... discusses its experience in Alaska, where, on the North Slope, 9 Gb have been extracted, with 4 Gb still to go (in other words, 2/3 of the recoverable oil has been extracted). And yet, "There's plenty of oil left on the North Slope," according to this source. (Currently, 4 Gb represents about 2 months of global consumption.)
- A Petroleum Prospecting Primer. Learn about the tools Chevron uses in the quest for oil and natural gas.
In addition to 1 Trillion barrels of proven reserves (roughly the same amount identified by Dr. Campbell and other experts, in round numbers) Chevron claims 10 Trillion barrels of oil in various forms. Chevron is referring to oil shale, tar sands, and other costly forms of oil. The extent of the resource is not disputed by the experts, but the economic and environmental costs to develop such resources will not compare to today's situation.
"World Oil Outlook to 2000 and Beyond" was presented at EcoTech III by David Sander, a senior environmental representative for Chevron who is responsible for developing and coordinating Chevron's environmental policy positions and advocacy strategies on various U.S. legislative and regulatory issues.
- Empresa Colombiana de Petroleos (en español)
- Instituto Mexicano del Petroleo (en español)
- "Shell: Rapid Introduction of Alternative Energy," translation of an article about Shell Oil's forecasts, from a Dutch newspaper, January 25, 1995.
Chairman/CEO says petroleum still is most abundant, clean and affordable source of energy. Price Of Gasoline Today Is Nearly As Low As 1920s.
- For other sites not listed here, link to
updated 2004 October 10
updated 2000 May 24