Articles

Reasons to be fearful
Posted on Monday, July 29th, 2013

This article was first published in New Scientist, 27 July 2013.

DOOM-MONGERS of the climate variety might want to look away now – we apparently have more time to save the planet. A recent study published in Nature Geoscience suggests it will warm more slowly than feared, perhaps buying an extra decade for action.
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Europe’s carbon price is down but not out
Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2013

This article was first published in New Scientist, 27 June 2013.

THE world’s biggest carbon market, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, is now widely regarded as a basket case.
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Inside the frack-heads’ not-so-secret agenda
Posted on Friday, December 14th, 2012

This piece was first published in the ODAC Newsletter, 14 December 2012.

The announcement on Thursday that the government is lifting its moratorium on fracking held all the surprise of turkey on the Christmas menu.
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What price Iraq?
Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

This article was published in Middle East Oil & Gas Monitor, 16 October 2012.

The fate of the world economy depends critically on Iraqi oil, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) published last week.
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Liquid air: the birth of the nitrogen economy
Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2012

This article was first published in gasworld in September 2012.

Everybody’s heard of the hydrogen economy, with its promise of limitless low carbon energy. But after decades of R&D, the dream seems scarcely any closer. Apparently still confounded by major technical challenges, the hydrogen economy remains an elusive mirage – always ‘just 10 years away’.
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Peakonomics: Mitt Romney and $100 diet
Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2012

This article was published in NorthAmOil, 6 September 2012.

There seems to be a rule that every US presidential hopeful must promise energy independence but never deliver.
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Peakonomics: no country for old men
Posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2012

This article was first published in New Scientist, 16 August 2012.

In 2007 James Schlesinger claimed the intellectual arguments around peak oil had all been won. With global oil production flat-lining and prices surging towards their all-time high of $147 per barrel, the former US Energy Secretary declared “we are all peakists now”.
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Monbiot peak oil u-turn based on duff maths
Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2012

In his column of July 2nd George Monbiot recanted peak oil, claiming “the facts have changed, now we must change too”. Much of the article was spent regurgitating a recent report by Leonardo Maugeri, a former executive with the Italian oil company Eni, which Monbiot breathlessly reported “provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun”.
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Oil glut forecaster Maugeri admits duff maths
Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2012

This article was first published in EurOil, 24 July 2012, and by
2degreesnetwork, 30 July 2012.

Move over peak oil, the world is heading for glut, according to a recent report by Leonardo Maugeri, a former executive with the Italian oil company Eni.
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Peakonomics: why the oil price slide is temporary
Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012

First published in Petroleum Review, July 2012.

Time was when the oil price slide of recent months would have been greeted with jubilation by everyone bar the oil companies and exporting countries. No longer.
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BP: out of the frying pan
Posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

This article was published in EurOil, 19 June 2012.

You could be forgiven for thinking BP’s luck had finally turned on 1st June 2012.
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Golden rule of gas: don’t believe the hype
Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2012

This article was published in Unconventional Oil & Gas Monitor, 4 June 2012.

Like it or not, the unconventional gas industry has a lousy reputation. It is widely blamed for water contamination, earthquakes and fugitive emissions of methane that by some estimates make its climate impact worse than coal.
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Peakonomics: kiss your boarding pass goodbye
Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2012

This article was first published in Unconventional Oil & Gas Monitor, 4 June 2012.

Peak oil used to be a debate in which geologists and economists threw bricks at each other but seldom talked.
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Riddle of the Saudi sands
Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2012

This article was published in Middle East Oil & Gas Monitor, 15 May 2012.

The Saudi oil minister must be feeling pleased with himself. At the end of March, with Brent crude trading at around $125 per barrel, Ali al Naimi wrote a sharply worded column in the Financial Times claiming there was “no rational reason” for such high and economically damaging oil prices. Since then, Brent has slumped to around $112. Giving the market a stern talking-to apparently did the trick.
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Dump the pump: could peak oil be voluntary?
Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012

First published at New Scientist, 17 May 2012.

People have fretted about when the world’s oil will start to run out ever since M. King Hubbert came up with the idea of “peak oil” back in the 1950s.
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Wishing it don’t make it so
Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

This article was published in EurOil, 1 May 2012.

April is the cruelest month, a poet once wrote, and so it seems in the political economy of oil.
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Climate cost of Total’s North Sea leak
Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012

First published at New Scientist, 30 March 2012.

Coverage of the gas leak at Total’s Elgin platform in the North Sea, off the UK coast, has so far focused on the potential for an explosion, and damage to sea life from hydrogen sulphide contamination – the latter now discounted. But methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, so what about the global warming impact? Here’s what emerged from the back of my envelope.
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Tories play fast and loose with fuel supply
Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012

First published in the ODAC Newsletter 30 March 2012.

While awareness of peak oil has advanced light years since the petrol protests of 2000, on the evidence of this week the same cannot be said for the conduct of British energy policy.
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Obama-Cameron dogging explained
Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012

First published in the ODAC Newsletter 16 March 2012.

Finally, a plausible explanation for the Obama-Cameron political orgy – ‘love-in’ doesn’t quite do it – in Washington this week.
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Gas: climate panacea or industry propaganda?
Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

First published in the New Scientist 25 February 2012.

I once hitched a lift from New York to London in the private jet of an American gas billionaire.
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Gas galore?
Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2012

This article was first published in the New Scientist print edition of 21 January 2012, and will appear online at energyrealities.org.

It may come as news to hard-pressed European households, but the world is enjoying a glut of natural gas.
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Has the world reached economic peak oil?
Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2011

This article was first published in the 3 December print edition of New Scientist and online at energyrealities.org.

Whisper it. Oil production in the US is increasing. The country where output peaked in 1970 and then shrank by 40 per cent over four decades, has turned some kind of corner.
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Nuclear: why Britain is right and Germany wrong
Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

First published in Energy World, November 2011.

For decades Britain seemed to have cornered the market in bad energy policy, but these days it has some stiff competition from Germany. Which is ironic, really.
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The real Greek tragedy
Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2011

First published in New Scientist, 12 October 2011.

Greece is going to default, one way or another, that much is clear. The bigger question is whether it will also leave the Euro and what that would mean. What is so far underappreciated is that a Greek exit would have appalling consequences not only for the world economy, but also the climate.
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Will the real peak oil policy please stand up?
Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

First published in Petroleum Review, September 2011.

There has been much excitement in the press recently about the last government’s attitude to peak oil. Documents released under Freedom of Information requests seem to show New Labour facing both ways: dismissing the issue in public, while privately worrying about its potential impacts. Far more relevant today is the attitude of the coalition, which is just as perplexing and equally dangerous.
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Cold storage
Posted on Friday, August 26th, 2011

First published in Energy World, September 2011.

Only connect. In the last twelve months Britain has shelled out £4.3 million pounds to wind farms that were not producing power even though the wind was blowing. Over the same period our power stations and heavy industries chucked 800 gigawatt hours of waste heat up the chimney, about the same as all the heat consumed by the entire country.
Read more »


European supergrid ‘decades away’
Posted on Friday, August 26th, 2011

First published in Windpower Monthly, September 2011.

Plans to build a European supergrid to distribute wind power from the northwest of the continent and solar from the south are decades away from realisation, according to Tim Yeo, chairman of the UK parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, which is investigating the potential benefits of such a scheme.

Read more »


Last Oil Shock now available as e-book
Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2011

The Last Oil Shock is now available as an e-book. To buy a copy click here. To read what the experts think about it, click ‘read more’.
Read more »


Europe pays for Germany’s nuclear ‘Nein danke!’
Posted on Friday, July 29th, 2011

First published in the New Scientist, 29 July 2011.

Europe’s energy consumers will find themselves paying a high price for Germany’s decision to get out of nuclear power.
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Coal and gas to plug German nuclear gap
Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2011

First published in the New Scientist, 7 July 2011.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government claimed to be “ushering in the age of renewables” as German MPs passed legislation this week to phase out nuclear power by 2022 – but the basic arithmetic of the energy-switch policy suggests the country will struggle to fill the hole left by nuclear power – and emissions may rise in the interim.
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David MacKay interview
Posted on Saturday, June 4th, 2011

First published in Sustainable Business, 4 June 2011.

My interview with David MacKay has the feel of a university tutorial. Perhaps it’s not surprising, since the chief scientific advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change is a professor of physics at Cambridge. But the impression is reinforced in his cramped office on the sixth floor of DECC, where I negotiate piles of paperwork and shuffle furniture so we both can see his computer screen.
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DECC model highlights inconvenient energy truths
Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

First published in Energy World, 1 June 2011.

For those of us with an anorak in the closet, the government’s new online energy planning tool, the 2050 Pathways Calculator, has provided hours of perplexing fun.
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How BP got into another fine mess
Posted on Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The immediate cause of BP’s latest Russian crisis is the ruling last month of an arbitration panel in Switzerland. But its roots spread all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and as far back as the company’s last but one chief executive. And it all reflects the company’s floundering attempts to secure production growth in a world of dwindling oil resources.
Read more »


The real cost of not going nuclear
Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011

First published in the Utility Week, 1 April 2011.

Just because the nuclear backlash was inevitable doesn’t make it right.
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Turbine revolution
Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

This article is published in the Ecologist, Sustainable Business, and the April edition of Energy World.

When Thanet wind farm off the Kent coast opened to great fanfare last September, it was no surprise that Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was there to cut the ribbon.
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My2050@lastoilshock
Posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011

Here’s my initial take on DECC’s new energy planning toy, My2050, launched this week. The aim is to cut emissions to 20% of 1990 levels by 2050 and keep the lights on. There are screenshots of my choices below.
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IEA forecasts conceal bigger crisis to come
Posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011

British energy policy is founded on dangerously optimistic assumptions that need to be urgently reassessed, according to a paper from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) published today.
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BBC World Tonight interview: Saudi Arabia
Posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

To hear my interview about Saudi Arabia on BBC World Tonight, click on the link below.
Read more »


Oil price set to double if production is cut off
Posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011

First published in the The Independent on Sunday, 27 February 2011.

Oil prices surged to a thirty-month high this week as the turmoil in Libya cut supplies by over 1 million barrels per day, raising the chances of a global supply shock that could push the economy back into recession. Brent crude reached almost $120 per barrel, its highest level since August 2008, as international oil companies pulled out and foreign workers fled the country.
Read more »


Old Iran hand casts doubt on Saudi, Libya
Posted on Friday, February 25th, 2011

As the last oilman out of Iran in 1979, Jeremy Gilbert knows just how it feels to be caught up in a Middle Eastern revolution. Hospitalized and desperately weak with hepatitis, he was left behind in the general evacuation and only escaped by walking through Iraq – after being forced to kiss the shoes of a border official.
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Saudi denial not what it seems
Posted on Monday, February 21st, 2011

Sadad al-Husseini’s statement distancing himself from the Wikileaked cable written by US diplomats in Riyadh is most interesting for what it leaves out. While robustly denying claims that were not actually made in the original message – always a good tactic when you’re on the back foot – the former VP Exploration & Production for Saudi Aramco pointedly fails to deny the most important passage.
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Saudi powerless to delay global peak
Posted on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

So, Wikileaks has finally delivered some news you can use. A cable written by US diplomats in Riyadh towards the end of 2007 contains a clear and ‘insider’ forecast of Saudi peak production in the early 2020s.
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Saudi reserves
Posted on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Much excitement today about the Wikileaks revelation that Sadad al-Husseini, former head of exploration and production at Saudi Aramco, told the US consul general in Ryadh in 2007 that Saudi Arabia’s reserves have been overstated by 300 billion barrels, or some 40%. Sadad has been saying publicly the world’s reserves are falsely inflated by that figure for several years now – as first reported by lastoilshock.com. It just wasn’t clear those 300bn missing barrels were all in Saudi. Or, more precisely, not in Saudi.


BP’s troubles have only just begun
Posted on Sunday, June 20th, 2010

First published in the The Independent on Sunday, 20 June 2010

As BP reels from its toughest week yet since the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, investors warn the longer term outlook for the embattled supermajor is likely to worsen.
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Why America should thank BP
Posted on Monday, May 31st, 2010

This article was first published in the The Independent, 1 June 2010

Hollywood loves its villains to have an English accent. After the Deepwater Horizon disaster it was inevitable American commentators would deride BP as British Petroleum and its CEO as Tony Wayward. But even as Gulf Coast residents despair and BP fumbles from one seat-of-the-pants engineering ‘solution’ to another, Americans should realise the company may have done them a huge favour.
Read more »


World at One interview: BP slick
Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010

To hear my interview on BBC Radio 4′s World at One programme today, about the implications of the Gulf of Mexico disaster for global oil production, follow the link below.
Read more »


Correction
Posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2010

The article Oil production hit by BP slick was written on the presumption the 5000 barrels per day estimate was roughly right. It is now increasingly clear that it was a gross underestimate. But I stand by my assessment of the slick’s likely impact on Gulf of Mexico oil production and the industry more widely.


Secret agenda of coalition energy policy
Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010

There is much to welcome in the new coalition’s energy policy.
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Oil production hit by BP slick
Posted on Sunday, May 9th, 2010

First published in the The Independent on Sunday, 9 May 2010

Even as the first oil from BP’s stricken Macondo well in the US Gulf of Mexico washed ashore this weekend, and as the clamour against the company mounts, experts claim the slick will be nothing like as catastrophic as forecast – for either the environment or the oil industry. However some analysts maintain the accident could still seriously impact the global oil supply later this decade.
Read more »


Why I agree with Nick
Posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

So that’s it. Tomorrow we troop to the polling stations with almost no discussion of the most critical issue: energy.
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The end of the road
Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

It was never much to look at, but I was sorry to see it go. On the mean streets of Hampstead, my 13 year old Peugeot 406 diesel estate (42mpg) has reached the end of the road.
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Coping with wind
Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

This article was published in Ecologist on 27 April 2010, and in the June edition of Energy World.

Texas is full of surprises. In the historic home of the oil industry, the electricity supply is going green. A landscape that for over a century has been carpeted with ‘nodding donkey’ oil wells is now sprouting wind turbines.
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Peak at the polls
Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Peak oil has come a long way in the last few years: from bug-eyed millennial cult to mainstream consensus, embracing academia, much of the oil industry, and now the US military. There’s a growing consensus global oil production will peak this side of 2020, with many forecasts clustered around the middle the decade and some well within the next parliament. Strange then that even now the mainstream parties’ manifestos contain not a single word on the subject.
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How long before the lights go out?
Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2010

This article was first published in the Telegraph on 4 February 2010.

Bad news for energy consumers continues to come thick and fast. Bills have more than doubled in the last six years, and could rise a further 25% in the next decade according to a wide-ranging report published yesterday by Ofgem. But even more worrying was the watchdog’s analysis of Britain’s energy security – or lack of it.
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Who’s afraid of the tar sands?
Posted on Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

This article was first published in Ecologist on 8 December 2009.

Criticizing the Canadian tar sands used to be so simple. Environmentalists condemned them as a ‘climate crime’, while peak oilers argued they could never fill the gap left by conventional depletion. It turns out neither critique captures the full magnitude of the problem. In the light of the latest science, exploiting the tar sands threatens to damage not only the climate but also the long term fuel supply.
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Can non-conventional oil fill the gap?
Posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

A version of this article was published in New Scientist on 3 December 2009.

The oil crisis is not dead, only sleeping, according to an emerging consensus. The price may have collapsed from last year’s all-time high of $147 per barrel to around $75 today, as the recession grinds away at demand for crude, but nobody expects that to last when the economy recovers.
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Crawford deal signed in oil, not blood
Posted on Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s former ambassador to Washington, mused last week that Tony Blair may have reached a secret deal with George Bush to topple Saddam Hussein a full year before the invasion took place.
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Last Oil Shock in Japan
Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The Last Oil Shock has now been published in Japanese, and is available online in Japan.


Last Oil Shock in Portugal
Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The Last Oil Shock has now been published in Portuguese, and is available online in Portugal.


Peak oil report exposes UK position
Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009

First published at The Ecologist, 8 October 2009.

There is a “significant risk” that conventional oil production will peak before 2020, and forecasts that delay the event beyond 2030 are based on assumptions that are “at best optimistic and at worst implausible”.
Read more »


BP’s ‘giant’ oil discovery would last three weeks
Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

BP announced the discovery of a ‘giant’ oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico last week, but what does it really amount to?
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Peak oil around 2030 says IEA
Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

An article in the Independent caused a stir recently by claiming that the International Energy Agency’s chief economist Fatih Birol had predicted peak oil in ‘about ten years’ – a radical departure from the IEA’s position to date.
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The Economist strikes again
Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009

In the Times this week Bill Emmott argued that the world’s oil supply problems are simply down to OPEC greed, dismissed peak oil as the work of “planetary gloomsters” and assured readers that the world is not running out.
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The great biogas bungle
Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

First published in The Ecologist on 4 August 2009, and Sustainable Business, October 2009.

When David and Ruth of The Archers decided to set up an anaerobic digester to make biogas from farm waste, they quickly ran into trouble. Intended to produce electricity for the national grid and heat for their poly-tunnels, the project was defeated by boardroom bust-ups and NIMBY protests led by local battle-axe Linda Snell.
Read more »


Iraqi oil gameshow loses the plot
Posted on Sunday, July 5th, 2009

A shorter version of this article was published in the The Independent on Sunday, 5 July 2009

The auction of Iraqi oil production licences last week was truly historic – not least because it was the first such exercise ever to be broadcast live on television.
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Global warming: send in the tanks
Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2009

First published in the Guardian, 18 June 2009.

Forget expensive high tech silver bullets like nuclear fusion and carbon capture and storage, the solution to climate change lies in the humble electric immersion heater that sits in your hot water tank under the stairs.
Read more »


We’re in OPEC’s hands, but are they tied?
Posted on Sunday, June 14th, 2009

This article was first published in the The Independent on Sunday, 14 June 2009

BP famously ‘doesn’t do’ oil price forecasts. After 18 months in which crude has ricocheted from just under $100 per barrel to an all time high of $147, then down to less than $40, and now up to $73 again, you can see their point.
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Renewable supergrid by 2030
Posted on Sunday, June 14th, 2009

A short version of this article was published in the The Independent on Sunday, 14 June 2009

Europe could build an electricity supply based entirely on renewable energy by 2030, according to scientists making a presentation at the House of Commons this week.
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Still no UK energy policy
Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2009

First published in the The Independent on Sunday, 26 April 2009

“All targets and no trousers” seemed to be the gist of the reaction from environmentalists to the Budget this week.
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Electric avenues
Posted on Sunday, March 29th, 2009

First published in the The Independent on Sunday, 29 March 2009

‘The future has not been cancelled,” quipped BP chief executive Tony Hayward in a bullish presentation about the company’s prospects recently.
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Green grid
Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009

A version of this article was published in New Scientist on 12 March 2009.

Thomas Edison might have relished the irony. Just as his most famous legacy, the incandescent light bulb, heads for extinction, his other great passion, direct current, is set to boom.
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Why $40 per barrel is no cause for complacency
Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009

By David Strahan and Gary Kendall of SustainAbility

These days it is comforting to have one thing not to worry about. As the world teeters on the edge of a full-blown depression, and business is crushed between slumping sales and seized-up credit markets, at least the oil price is in retreat.
Read more »


Channel 4 News interview: London oil summit
Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008

My interview on Channel 4 News on 19 December, about the London oil summit, can now be seen on You Tube. Click on ‘read more’. The segment starts about one and a half minutes into the recording.
Read more »


Radio 4 interview: why is the oil price plunging?
Posted on Saturday, December 6th, 2008

The oil price has fallen by 25% in a week, to around $40 per barrel, more than $100 lower than its all time peak in July. To hear my interview on Radio 4′s flagship Today programme this morning about the reasons for the collapse, and the likely outlook, follow the links below.
Read more »


Pipe dreams
Posted on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

First published in the Guardian, 3 December 2008.

An old friend was once memorably described as a sixties liberal with Catholic guilt – you can just imagine the internal contortions. I got the same impression of grinding gears while reading the International Energy Agency’s latest long term forecast, the World Energy Outlook 2008, published last month.
Read more »


The end of the road for hydrogen?
Posted on Thursday, November 27th, 2008

A shorter version of this article appeared in New Scientist magazine on 26 November 2008.

Whatever happened to the hydrogen economy? At the turn of the century it was the next big thing, promising a Jetsons-style future of infinite clean energy and deliverance from climate change.
Read more »


Letter to the Energy Secretary
Posted on Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Dear Mr Miliband,

Congratulations on your recent appointment to the most important job in government.
Read more »


Why the oil price slump is bad news
Posted on Sunday, October 26th, 2008

First published in The Independent on Sunday, 26 October 2008

Once again Gordon Brown has energy policy all wrong. Even before OPEC announced an output cut of 1.5 million barrels per day, the prime minister had denounced the move as “absolutely scandalous”, fearing it would force the oil price higher just as the world slides into recession.
Read more »


Green fuel for the airline industry?
Posted on Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Published in New Scientist on 13 August 2008

IF YOU have become addicted to the fly-cheap philosophy espoused by budget airlines over the last decade, it could be time to rethink your travel plans.
Read more »


Oil price respite will be brief or unpleasant
Posted on Sunday, August 10th, 2008

First published in the Telegraph, 9 August 2008

With the oil price apparently in full retreat, it is tempting to breathe a sigh of relief.
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BP’s Russian roulette belies stance on peak oil
Posted on Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

First published in the Independent on Sunday, 22 June 2008

It must be increasingly lonely being Tony Hayward. As the oil price continues to soar there is a gathering consensus that global oil production is nearing some fundamental geological limits, yet BP’s chief executive continues to argue valiantly that the causes of the current oil shock are “not so much below ground as above it, and not geological but political”


Newsnight interview
Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2008

My interview on Newsnight on 30 May can now be viewed on You Tube, or below in this post – just click on ‘read more’.
Read more »


Oil: why Gordon doesn’t get it
Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008

First published in the Telegraph, 29 May 2008.

Even by the low standards if his government, Gordon Brown’s recent pronouncements on oil have been shockingly ignorant.
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What happens next?
Posted on Sunday, May 25th, 2008

First published in the Independent on Sunday, 25 May 2008

Never mind speculation, forget the weak dollar. To understand the soaring oil price you need only glance at figures from the US government which show that global oil production has been essentially stagnant – at just under 86 million barrels per day – since early 2005.
Read more »


Greenland oil estimates over-reported
Posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Letter to the Times

Sir, the Times incorrectly reported that Greenland has 47 billion barrels of ‘estimated oil reserves’ (‘Global warming could help Greenland to independence’, print edition, 7 May), which is wrong on two counts.
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How do you solve a problem like jet fuel?
Posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

First published in Petroleum Review, May 2008.

Say what you like about Sir Richard Branson, but you cannot fault his willingness to suffer in the cause of a photo-opportunity.
Read more »


Don’t panic, it’s only the oil supply
Posted on Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

First published in the Telegraph , 3 May 2008

Polishing the portholes on the Titanic hardly does it justice. This week saw ministers giving an uncanny impersonation of Corporal Jones urging calm over the Grangemouth refinery strike; lorry drivers protesting in Park Lane over a two pence rise in fuel duty; and much righteous indignation over the level of profits reported by Shell and BP. All of which entirely misses the point.
Read more »


The Last Oil Shock is now available in paperback
Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Doh! I felt such a fool. While checking the manuscript of The Last Oil Shock for the new mass market paperback edition, available from 17 April, I noticed a real howler.
Read more »


Lump sums
Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

This article was first published in the The Guardian, 5 March 2008

For weeks South Africa has suffered rolling blackouts caused in part by a shortage of coal. Gripped by unusually bitter snowstorms, China recently banned coal exports for the next two months.
Read more »


Peak oil “opportunity”
Posted on Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Peak oil is not a threat but an opportunity to force through the policies needed to combat climate change, according to London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
Read more »


Branson: nuts to peak oil
Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Sir Richard Branson today claimed aviation could be made “truly sustainable” at the launch of test flight fuelled in part by coconut oil. But the Virgin boss conceded that meaningful supplies of alternative fuel might not be available before the advent of peak oil, which he said could happen within six years.
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Biofuel without tears, but how much?
Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2008

(Podcast) Biofuel can be produced without clearing rainforest, raising CO2 emissions or displacing food production, according to the chief executive of D1 Oils, the British company pioneering oil from jatropha curcas in the developing world. And according to Elliott Mannis, the fuel could even work out cheaper than damaging first generation biofuels.
Read more »


Oil constraints to cause “huge recession”
Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2008

(Podcast) The world will have to suffer a deep economic downturn before serious attempts are made to kick the oil habit, according to the chairman of PFC Energy, the Washington based oil consultancy.
Read more »


Peak oil and the seismic silver lining
Posted on Saturday, February 9th, 2008

First published in International Hydrographic & Seismic Search Magazine, February 2008

The launch of International Hydrographic & Seismic Search Magazine raises an interesting question: have the publishers taken leave of their senses?
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BP to “put lights out” on North Sea
Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

BP chief executive Tony Hayward stressed the company’s commitment to the North Sea during its results press conference yesterday, saying it would continue to produce there “until we put the lights out”.
Read more »


Coal prices triple as supply crisis deepens
Posted on Monday, February 4th, 2008

(Podcast – update) Coal prices are predicted to hit $300 per tonne this week, a threefold rise that eclipses even the most bullish forecasts made just a few days ago.
Read more »


Coal prices could double again
Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2008

(Podcast) All of a sudden coal, so long the Cinderella of fossil fuels, is not just in demand but in desperately short supply.
Read more »


Triple digit oil price regardless of peak
Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

(Podcast) The real value of oil is “way, way, way above $80” according to a leading analyst.
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Norwegian gas will go to highest bidder
Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

(Podcast) Britain can expect no favouritism from Norway as the European gas market tightens over the next decade. Norwegian supplies will be allocated on a strictly commercial basis, according to Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Energy Liv Monica Stubholt.
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Supergrid could provide 30% of Europe’s electricity
Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

(Podcast) A high voltage electricity grid connecting countries from the North Sea to the Bay of Biscay could provide almost a third of Europe’s power by 2030, according to the company behind the idea.
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The great coal hole
Posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2008

First published in New Scientist, 17 January 2008

There used to be a joke about taking coal to Newcastle but these days the laughing stock is getting the stuff out.
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See no peak: letter to the Financial Times
Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Just as the Financial Times’ news coverage of oil was beginning to improve (“Oil watchdog reworks reserves forecasts”, 27.12.07), Lex goes and spoils it with a truly shoddy analysis: “Peak no evil” (03.01.08) rehearsed all the old myths that have been comprehensively debunked in recent years.
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The limits to reserves growth
Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

(Podcast) Reserves growth in existing oilfields is largely illusory and will not put off the date of peak oil, according to BP’s former Chief Petroleum Engineer.
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IEA to blame for $100 oil spike – Groppe
Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

(Podcast) When the oil price soared to over $99 per barrel earlier this year, the cause was not surging demand, nor speculation, nor even impending peak oil, but a forecasting error by the International Energy Agency.
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Surfing the ultimate peak
Posted on Saturday, December 1st, 2007

First published in Surfer’s Path, November 2007

The two longboards jammed between the hull and the wheel-house seem oddly superfluous. Two miles out in the bay, and sheltered from the choppy Gulf of Mexico by the sandbar of Galveston, the murky green water slaps gently against the hull of our tiny Boston whaler, glinting in the early morning sun. On the face of it the chances of a wave are minimal.
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$100 oil and British energy policy built on sand
Posted on Saturday, November 24th, 2007

First published as $100 oil: the terrible truth in the Guardian, 24 November 2007

As the price of crude oil sets new records almost daily, the British government remains stunningly complacent. With the $100 barrel looming, the prime minister’s website blithely proclaims “the world’s oil and gas resources are sufficient to sustain economic growth for the foreseeable future.” Officials refuse to define what is meant by “foreseeable”, but it is clear they suffer from extreme myopia or worse.
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Localise and go organic to avert post-peak famine – Heinberg
Posted on Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

(Podcast) Agriculture must localise and convert to organic production methods without delay if the world is to avoid famine, according to a leading thinker on peak oil.
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The unpalatable truth: $100 oil is just for starters
Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2007

First published in the Evening Standard, 9 November 2007

With the markets hypnotized by the approach of $100 oil, analysts are pointing the finger at all the usual suspects: speculators, the OPEC bogeyman, the weak dollar, soaring consumption in China and India, and geopolitical tensions. All play a part but the real cause is altogether less palatable. The world is running short of oil, and this time it is likely to be permanent.
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“Supply crunch” is not peak oil – IEA
Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

There is no contradiction between the International Energy Agency’s forecast of long term oil supply growth to 2030 and a “supply crunch” by 2015, according to its chief economist Fatih Birol. Mr Birol insisted today that the short term crisis would not be caused by a fundamental shortage of oil but by entirely man-made factors.
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Total boss on why oil production will never top 100 mb/d
Posted on Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Christophe de Margerie has a reputation for forthright views and blunt speaking, but this week the chief executive of Total excelled himself by dismissing the IEA’s oil production forecasts as unrealistic, while coining an aphorism worthy of Donald Rumsfeld.
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IEA reviews reliance on USGS resource estimates
Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

(Podcast) IEA chief economist Fatih Birol has told lastoilshock.com that the agency will review its use of resource estimates from the United States Geological Survey, in a move that seems certain to prompt a major downward revision of its long term oil production forecast.
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Oil reserves over-inflated by 300bn barrels – al-Huseini
Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

The world’s proved reserves have been have been falsely puffed up by the inclusion of 300 billion barrels of speculative resources, according to the former head of exploration and production at Saudi Aramco, and this explains the industry’s inability to raise output despite soaring prices.
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Oil has peaked, prices to soar – Sadad al-Huseini
Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2007

(Podcast) Sadad al-Huseini says that global production has reached its maximum sustainable plateau and that output will start to fall within 15 years, by which time the world’s oil resources will be “very severely depleted”.
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1200 days to peak oil
Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

(Podcast) There are only 1200 days to go until global oil production reaches its all-time peak, according to the editor of the Petroleum Review. Worse, says Chris Skrebowski, the chances are the crisis will break even sooner.
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Peak oil means peak economy – Hirsch
Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2007

(Podcast) When global oil production peaks, the economy is likely to shrink in direct proportion to dwindling fuel supplies, says Dr Robert Hirsch of the thinktank SAIC.
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Slippery slope
Posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

By David Strahan. First published in the Guardian, 3 October 2007.

The Irish chapter of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil could hardly have wished for better. On the first day of its recent conference in Cork, the oil price obliged by striking a new all-time high. And in the following days it struck three more in a row.
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Private industry conference finds much less oil
Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007

(Podcast) A secretive gathering some of the world’s biggest oil companies has concluded the industry will discover far less oil than officially forecast, according to an executive who attended the event, meaning global oil production may peak much sooner than many expect.
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CO2 flooding could yield 2mb/d – eventually
Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007

(Podcast) For a senior oilman Gareth Roberts holds some fairly unusual views: peak oil is coming soon; crude oil is too precious to burn as transport fuel; and Big Oil should be investing massively in alternative energy.
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WEC predicts oil peak in 10-20 years
Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

(Podcast) In a sign of just how rapidly peak oil is moving into the mainstream, a report from the World Energy Council has forecast that conventional oil production will peak in the next ten to twenty years. But in an interview with Lastoilshock.com, WEC Secretary General Gerald Doucet insisted that the transition would be “managable” and that total world energy supply would nevertheless double by 2030.
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Irish energy minister says oil rationing “common sense”
Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

(Podcast) Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has claimed that some form of energy rationing system would be a “common sense approach” to the twin challenges of peak oil and transport carbon emissions.
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We are all peakists now – Schlesinger
Posted on Monday, September 17th, 2007

(Podcast) Former US Energy Secretary Dr James Schlesinger today claimed that the intellectual arguments over peak oil had been won, and that in effect ‘we are all peakists now’.
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Oil industry ‘sleepwalking’ into crisis
Posted on Sunday, September 16th, 2007

By David Strahan and Andrew Murray-Watson. First published in the Independent on Sunday, 16 September 2007

Lord Oxburgh, the former chairman of Shell, has issued a stark warning that the price of oil could hit $150 per barrel, with oil production peaking within the next 20 years.
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Interview with Lord Oxburgh
Posted on Sunday, September 16th, 2007

The former chairman of Shell will issue a stark warning about the world’s oil supply at a conference in Ireland later this week. Lord Oxburgh expects that global oil demand will outstrip supply within twenty years as production hits plateau, and that the oil price may well hit $150 in the long term. He accuses some in the industry of having their heads “almost in the sand” about oil depletion, and concludes “we may be sleepwalking into a problem which is actually going to be very serious and it may be too late to do anything about it by the time we are fully aware”.
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Why Dick changed his mind
Posted on Saturday, August 18th, 2007

By David Strahan

In a widely viewed You Tube clip, taken from a C-Span interview conducted in 1994, Dick Cheney argues persuasively that the United States was right not to topple Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. He cites the potential disintegration of the country and the risk of American casualties as good reasons for the decision not to take Baghdad. So what was it that changed his mind by the turn of the century? An acute awareness of impending peak oil.
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Open letter to Duncan Clarke
Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Dear Duncan,

I suppose advocates of peak oil should be flattered that they are now taken seriously enough for someone to launch such a laboriously researched attack as The Battle for Barrels: Peak Oil Myths & World Oil Futures.
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British energy policy is a dangerous farce
Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

By David Strahan.

A year ago Tony Blair declared in the Energy Review that securing a ‘sustainable, secure and affordable energy supply is one of the principal duties of government’. He was right. But under New Labour energy policy has veered from criminal to farcical. And with the recent reappointment of Malcolm Wicks as Energy Minister that farce is ready to transfer from Whitehall to the West End stage.
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Why BP and Shell are bound to merge
Posted on Sunday, July 15th, 2007

By David Strahan. First published in the The Independent on Sunday, 15 July 2007.

BP and Shell are finally about to merge. That’s if you believe the tittle-tattle in the Square Mile. Of course rumours that the two giant companies might wed are hardly new and have been the stuff of bankers’ fevered imagination for years. But there is now an increasingly compelling case why the two energy groups should be integrated.
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Why Iraq was all about peak oil
Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

By David Strahan. First published in the Guardian, 26 June 2007.

Even as one of the principal architects of the Iraq war washes his hands of the whole bloody mess there is still only a remarkably vague understanding of the real reason behind the invasion.
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Exxon boss calls end of non-OPEC growth by 2010
Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Big beasts of the oil jungle don’t come much bigger than Rex Tillerson, in London last week to give a speech at Chatham House. Usually at such events the bigger the beast the duller the platitudes, but during questions afterwards the CEO of ExxonMobil made some significant remarks that underscored the tightness of oil supply outlook, and effectively predicted the end of non-OPEC oil production growth by 2010.
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Why the Middle East matters
Posted on Friday, June 1st, 2007

Letter to Prospect, June 2007.

Edward Luttwak’s argument that the Middle East doesn’t matter (The Middle of Nowhere, Prospect, May 2007) is bunk. While some of his points about the chronic Israel-Palestine problem ring horribly true, his willful denial of the real significance of the wider region, and of Iran in particular, is astonishing. To coin a phrase, it’s the oil, stupid.
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What Stern really got wrong
Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

By David Strahan. First published in Prospect, 16 May 2007

In one sense Stern’s conclusions were entirely predictable. He set out to answer the same brutally simple question posed by Dick Turpin: your money or your life. And now that climate change so clearly has a pistol at the head of our species, there could only be one answer – irrespective of cost.
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Why it isn’t over yet for Lord Browne
Posted on Sunday, May 6th, 2007

By David Strahan. First published in the Independent on Sunday, 6 May 2007.

Is it possible that Lord Browne’s humiliation is not yet complete? It may be hard to credit in a week when he was forced to resign with immediate effect – at a personal cost of £15m – after lying in a witness statement about a lover he met through a male escort agency.
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Who’s afraid of oil depletion?
Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2007

By David Strahan. First published in the Ecologist, April 2007.

What is it about climate change campaigners and peak oil – the two words you almost never hear them utter? The idea that global oil production will soon go into terminal decline ought to be a godsend; it makes the kinds of things they have been lobbying for all the more urgent and compelling. Yet most of the big NGOs continue studiously to ignore the idea.
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Why running out of oil could make climate change worse
Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2007


By David Strahan. Published at the BBC’s Green Room, 30 March 2007.

It is becoming increasingly clear that global oil production will soon go into terminal decline with potentially devastating economic consequences. Although the idea of ‘peak oil’ has traditionally been ridiculed by the industry, now even some of the world’s most senior oilmen concede the case.
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The treacherous traverse of Hubbert’s Peak
Posted on Sunday, March 25th, 2007

By David Strahan. Published as ‘Climate Criminals’ in Summit, Spring 2007.

Mountaineers are a special class of climate criminal. We clearly have a particular moral duty to protect the icy landscapes we enjoy, and most of us like to think of ourselves as environmentally responsible. But the reality is rather different.
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In praise of the United States Geological Survey
Posted on Sunday, March 25th, 2007

By David Strahan. Published in Geoscientist, and Petroleum Review, April 2007.

When it comes to estimating the scale of oil and gas resources, the United States Geological Survey has a reputation of coming up with some very large numbers.
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