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Peak oil is the term commonly used to describe the phenomenon where oil production rates fall after hitting a peak. The subject of oil depletion is more complicated than the simple question of how much oil is left. It is a supply and demand problem based on the flow rates of oil, the balance of which helps determine the price we pay for one of the master resources in today’s globalised economy. It is a problem concerning energy security, which is another way of saying there is sufficient, reliable supply at an affordable price.
Peak oil is not a theory, it’s a fact, just like how every car has a top speed. It is just a question of when the peak will occur. Or more importantly how oil shortages and price rises will impact the world economy as the world approaches and goes over the peak. We are already seeing the start of this phenomena and it has profound consequences for us all.
This website has been designed so you can find the information that is relevant to you. So if you either find economics a total mystery or consider yourself well versed in the topic you will be able to find something that suits your level of knowledge. Click the buttons below to go to a page dedicated to that level or alternatively scroll down to browse the content.
Have no idea what this is all about? Look here for the best, most succinct, 5 mins or less explanations of what the topic is and why it should be important to you.
Have a vague idea? What you need to know without all the boring details. Look here for a good summary of main points in no more than 15 mins.
Figuring out this is really important? Look here if you want to understand the key details that make up the big picture. A few hours and you will be a bonafide expert.
ABC Catalyst travels from Paris, to London, to the outer space like world that is deep sea drilling, to find out where we stand with our oil supply. Some disturbing comments from the previously tight lipped IEA. Extra material such as transcript, videos and extended interviews is available at the ABC Catalyst website To hear […]
A good selection of sound bites from some of the leading peak oil experts.
From the ABC radio Science Show (Australia) a selection of extended interviews by Jonica Newby from her April 2011 Catalyst report on peak oil. Oil supplies are rapidly dwindling and demand is increasing leading analysts to warn of an impending oil crunch. The global oil supply has lost the equivalent of the volume of the […]
Ian Dunlop, Deputy Convener of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO Australia) together with the Club of Rome produced this introductory presentation on Peak Oil.
Chapter 17a – Peak Oil: Energy is the lifeblood of any economy and a steady supply of energy is necessary to maintain the status quo, while an ever-increasing supply is needed to grow an economy. In this chapter, Dr. Chris Martenson explains that Peak Oil is not a theory, rather it is a description of […]
Chapter 17b – Energy Budgeting: Petroleum has supplied the surplus energy that has allowed for social complexity, industrialization, and the modern conveniences that we enjoy. In this chapter, Dr. Chris Martenson explains that in the future our supply of surplus energy will decline due to the fact that increasing amounts of energy will be required […]
This video developed for the oil & gas company ConocoPhillips gives a very good visual overview of the drilling process involved in hydraulic fracturing, AKA fracking. You’ll just have to take a few pinches of salt to compensate for the sickly sweet perfection in which this video presents the drilling process and how it couldn’t […]
In this great little talk Dr Susan Krumdieck speaks about our energy conundrum through a lens that is rarely used: financial return. Presumably talking to business leaders she quickly dismisses the relevance of peak oil, climate change and sustainability as reasons to change and goes straight to the formula for a resource base that is […]
This particular chapter takes a more detailed look at the various oil demand projections by comparing each organisation’s take on the main economic forces that shape their final numbers. Despite the huge uncertainty, there is near universal agreement on some of these forces. But opinion is divided on the biggest question of all – will […]
This chapter looks at the recent history of the many organisations that make energy demand forecasts. Their track record has a lot to be desired but understanding the huge uncertainties involved highlights just how easy they are to get wrong.
This chapter attempts to cover the last 150 years of oil consumption with the aim of discovering the main economic forces that have helped shape how and where oil is used today. By understanding these forces we can begin to understand how future oil demand will unfold.
This chapter attempts to explain why oil depletion is not simply a problem of “will we run out” but rather a more complicated supply and demand problem concerning energy security. The size of the tap is more important that the size of the tank.
This particular chapter attempts to explain why oil is the lifeblood of today’s modern economy and how any major fluctuations in oil price can expose the many inherent weaknesses in this globalised system that feeds, clothes and houses us.
This almost 30 minute interview from In Conversation with Allan Gregg economist Jeffery Rubin talks about his book “The End of Growth”. His basic thesis is that high oil prices (100+ a barrel) will cause economic growth in the developed world to flat line (while China and India will slow to 4-5%) and the world […]
A simple little 6 min computer animation that shows the start to finish steps of how an oil well is brought into production. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DniNIvE69SE
A shortened version of the Crash Course with information tailored for a United Kingdom audience. Chris Martenson explains the predicament the UK and world economy is in from the perspective of economics, energy and the environment. He discusses concepts such as the nature of money, debt, exponential growth, natural limits, peak oil and energy yields.
This is the first video of many in a video series explaining much of what is going on in the world today with regards to the economy and it dependence on energy and the environment. At around 3 hours in length, it’s not an easy thing to sit down and watch but I highly recommend […]
Part 1 in a series entitled “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate,” from The Nation.
This a very entertaining jaunt through the aspects that oil has played in world politics and power that everyone seems to ignore. Robert Newman is a comedian who a great knack for taking the dryness out of the subject matter of what is essentially an oil and war history lesson. Highly highly recommended. Or alternatively […]
On first glance it would be hard to see why, but this talk by Professor Bartlett is one of the most utterly compelling things I have watched and makes you totally rethink what “reasonable growth” means. A must watch. Professor Al Bartlett begins his one-hour talk with the statement, “The greatest shortcoming of the human […]
Here lies all the nerdy material you can ask for. Talks from the IEA and other energy organisations as well as some lectures from Stanford Uni. A host of documentaries mainly concerning the history and geo-politics of the West’s involvement in the Middle East. The documentary series based on the award winning book “The Prize” is also a must watch if you want to understand the role oil has had in shaping the last 150 year of modern civilisation. There are many other shorter videos in here as well that cover various elements of the oil industry. A kind of catch all for the worthwhile videos that didn’t make levels 1-3.
This 77 min pseudo documentary “The Crisis of Civilization” is based on the Book by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed of the same name. It goes through multiple parts each exploring various elements of our interconnected world, namely Climate Catastrophe; Peak Energy; Peak Food; Economic Instability; International Terrorism; and the Militarization Tendency with some final thoughts on […]
An excellent debate between Dr. Tadeus Patzek (Chair, Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas – Austin, ASPO USA Vice President) & John Hofmeister (Ex CEO of Shell, Founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy) covering the topic “The World Oil Supply: Looming Crisis or New Abundance?”. Despite the debate there was much agreed upon, largely […]
This 105 minute informal talk with a panel of about 10 members of the US Energy Security Council which includes many former heads of the military, US Senate, oil industry and governmental bodies most of which have “honorable” before their names (Ex CIA Boss James Woolsey, Senator and Professor Gary Hart and Alan Greenspan to […]
Andreas Schafer, director of the Martin Center for Architectural and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge, discusses the impact of the transportation sector with respect to climate destabilisation (change) and growing carbon emissions. Specifically he talks about the specific factors at play including passenger kilometres travelled (PKT), energy intensity per PKT and emissions intensity […]
John Curtis, Professor of Geochemistry and Director of the Potential Gas Agency at the Colorado School of Mines, looks at the US shale gas industry from a holistic level right down to the molecular level. He covers the different formations found throughout the States with the size of the potential resources in the ground. He […]
I watched the documentary Gasland which was put together by Josh Fox a month or so ago and really enjoyed it. Well maybe enjoy isn’t the right word. Since then my information journey into oil has spilled into the very similar world of natural gas (the csis.org talks on the subject in particular) so I […]
Geophysics Professor Mark Zoback explores the potential of unconventional natural gas (shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas) sources replacing coal as a step in transitioning the US economy towards zero carbon. He briefly describes the three different varieties and how they are produced. During his description of coal bed methane he talks about […]
I would of liked to be able to post the 2011 version of this up but every version of CSIS.org recording of the event (youtube, www.csis.org, itunes) seems to end after 7 mins. Still the 2010 version is quite similar and should give you a decent summary of the shorter term issues and what is […]
Definitely worth a watch. The big boys from the IEA give their take on the very important annual World Energy Outlook report which was released November 2010. Click the link for the csis.org page detailing the event, the speakers and the slides that go with the presentations.
I have seen Adam Brandt’s name pop up a few times in some of the life cycle analysis literature I have seen so it was good to see him speak as part of the Stanford Uni series I am slowly making my way through. You can probably divide this talk up in to 2 parts. […]
Richard Branson announced that Virgin Atlantic in partnership with Kiwi LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels would be teaming up to produce jet fuel from recycling waste gas from industrial steel production. They estimate that the process could be applied to 65% of the worlds steel mills potentially saving/recycling a lot of carbon dioxide that otherwise would […]
A neat little 2 min typography animation of what the large but also incredibly tiny amount of oil that ended up in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jojRiDWimN0
The New York Times reports that since 1990, more than 110 million gallons of mostly crude and petroleum products have spilled from the nation’s mainland pipeline network. More than half of it occurred in three states — Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana — where more pipelines exist. Source: Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety […]
Terry Karl, Gildred Professor of Latin American Studies and professor of Political Science at Stanford University, discusses overcoming the resource curse. Also known as the paradox of plenty it is the fact that most resource rich, in this case oil rich countries are performing far poorer than non resource rich countries in terms of development […]
January 7, 2009 lecture by Lee Schipper for the Woods Energy Seminar. In his talk “When the Rubber Hits the Road: The Real Story on Fuel Economy in the US and other Developed Countries, with Implications for Developing Asia,” Schipper discusses better and more realistic fuel economy options in the US and other industrialized nations.Lee […]
February 14, 2011 – Bob Skinner, Advisor to Statoil in Canada, discusses the challenges facing the ever growing industry focused on extracting the vast oil sand resources of Canada touching on interwoven difficulties in economic, social and environmental terms. This talk made me appreciate the variability and reality of just how hard it is to […]
Roland Horne, Thomas Davies Barrow Professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University, discusses the future of oil, mainly that of peak oil, production rates and where future oil will come from.
Stanford University Energy Seminar Series by the Woods and Precourt Intitutes comprises of over 70 lectures of roughly an hour each. Plenty on offer here covering everything from energy types, efficiency measures, transportation, policy and climate change. I’ll have to see how many I get through myself. I will post any individual ones that I […]
While not the greatest or most succinct of speeches, Bartlett here does cover the issue with some good quotes from major reports and Admiral Rickover. Pity he doesn’t seem to have an audience in the house. House Session 2011-May-24 U.S. House General Speeches Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. R-Maryland, 6th District
An interesting talk… Richard Heinberg addresses peak oil and how this energy transition is impacting our economy and our lives. Richard Heinberg is a professional peak oil educator and senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. Following is parts 1 to 5 of a 50 minute presentation. It was recorded at the Conference on Michigan’s […]
A half hour BBC documentary on the Suez War in 1956 where Egypt nationalised the important trading route of the Suez Canal which triggered Britain, France and Israel to invade Egypt.
Another take on the Arab-Israel Six Day War. It is in 4 parts so click the corresponding link when each segment ends. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMuVQtMlos
A 50 min doco that covers the events of the Six Day War between Israel and it’s Arab neighbours Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The war would shake up the region, change the map and set the conditions for the Yom Kippur War 6 years later and the 1973 oil crisis.
Covers the events of the war that lead to Arab members of OPEC cutting oil production causing the 1973 oil crisis.
This BBC documentary outlines the events before and after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 which is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict that is still going on today.
This BBC documentary covers the life of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi who was the last “king” of Iran prior to his downfall during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Part 1 of BBC doco by Norma Percy and co on the history and relationship beween Iran and the West. This episode tells the story of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the key figures involved, in particular the Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini. During the revolution students seized the US embassy in Tehran and held its […]
Part 2 of BBC doco by Norma Percy and co on the history and relationship beween Iran and the West. Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979 the West no longer had the overthrown Shah to act as a regional policeman for them. When Ayatollah Khomeini took power the amiable relationship between the US and Iran […]
Part 3 of BBC doco by Norma Percy and co on the history and relationship beween Iran and the West. This episode focuses on more recent events from the 1990′s to the present day. Economic sanctions by the US on Iran have been in place during this period where Iran has tried to develop it’s […]
This BBC documentary by writer and journalist Christopher de Bellaigue explores the history and relationship between Iran and Britain. In the early days Iran, then called Persia was just another colony of the enormous British Empire. When oil was discovered this was to change. World War I taught the British the strategic significance of oil […]
This very concise video explains the back story and roles of the UK and US governments in controlling that of Iran’s to ensure the West and their oil companies had control of Iranian oil. The engineered coup by MI6 and the newly formed CIA (the original document of the plan can be found online) shows […]
Part 1 of the excellent PBS documentary series based on Daniel Yergin’s Pulitzter winning book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. The very long book has an equally long documentary series with eight 52 minute episodes. I thoroughly recommend watching if you would like to understand much of what has gone on […]
Part 2 of the excellent documentary series based on Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. This episode traces the course of the oil industry outside the United States focusing on the development of Shell and BP in the early years of the 1900′s and the role of oil in […]
Part 3 of the excellent documentary series based on Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. The period between the two world wars was dominated by increased competition between oil companies and the start of the worldwide search for oil. But the massive discoveries in Texas and California would create […]
Part 4 of the excellent documentary series based on Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. This episode is entirely focused on WWII and the much overlooked role oil played in tactics and the overall outcome of the German and Japanese conflicts.
Part 5 of the excellent documentary series based on Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. This part is centred on the period after WWII and how governments realised that oil was too important to just be left to business to manage. Politics and oil were about to get very […]
Part 6 of the excellent documentary series based on Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. This episode focuses on the 50′s and 60′s, specifically on the conditions that lead to the nationalisation of the oil industries of OPEC countries and the demise of the “seven sisters” of international oil […]
Part 7 of the excellent documentary series based on Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. This episode i found the most interesting as it focused on the numerous wars that occurred in the Middle East from 1967 to 1991 and the politics behind them. The Arab nations angry at […]
Part 8 of the excellent documentary version of Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”. This part focuses on the role environmentalism is playing on the oil industry. The 1992 book/doco shows it’s age here but the globalised market forces still largely hold sway as it does in this episode […]
This is a must watch documentary about how Cuba survived the ordeals after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and was largely cut off from the rest of the world via the US led embargoes. The oil available to Cubans was cut to around a third of previous consumption and food imports were […]
A very good little video explaining the basics of how oil is refined into the products we as a society uses. It includes the basics on: – hydrocarbon chains – fractional distillation – cracking and the different methods Way more palatable than any of my chem eng lectures.
This is a Natural Geographic documentary that goes through the technology behind the oil platforms operating at depths of around 3000m which is currently testing the limits of human engineering both on practical and materials science aspects. The animations are excellent. The doco is around 45 mins long however if you would like an overview […]
This is a quite interesting documentary directed by Jean-Christophe Klotz about how the current two world superpowers, US and China, and their economic futures are very much tied to their ability to import foreign oil into their respective countries. The US and Europe historically has had a stranglehold on it’s position to influence oil negotiations […]
This very US centric 45 min documentary about the history of the modern oil industry is certainly worth a watch to get a feel for how the oil industry evolved, particularly in the early years before and around the early 1900′s. The famous Rockerfeller is at the heart of the story and most of the […]
To back up the other lecture from Doug Haywick, though i would only recommend it to the hardcore, it’s very geologically minded. This one is about: – how oil and gas is trapped in reservoirs – types of geological structures that can become reservoirs – porosity and all the different flavours. The actual lecture kicks […]
Curtesy of Dr. Doug Haywick of the Uni of South Alabama, this lecture describes: – the process of how organic material is converted into oil and gas – the composition of oil and gas – the migration of oil and gas from source rocks to reservoirs The juicy stuff starts around 27:30 in although if […]
While traditional biofuels are very borderline on being energy positive, if a region is going to be able to it, it would likely be places like south east Asia. This talk is an interesting concept about using available land on asian islands to grow biofuel compatible crops. Devil is in the details of course.
While the maker of the film doesn’t quite appreciate the difference between clean energy and liquid fuels, this video does capture the main points of oil sands production, the first 5 mins or so.
While I am not and do not want to get into the habit of promoting companies, this ad for the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is so absurd yet far closer to the truth of how we power our lives that i just had to put it up.