The Coming Oil Crisis

by Colin J. Campbell
published 1997 • ISBN 0 906588 11 0 • £24.50 UK only


Campbell's work reviews the geological origins of oil and gas, and the history and current status of this key industry. It assesses how much oil and gas has been produced; what remains in known fields; and what is yet-to-find, explaining how to properly interpret published numbers, many of which are spurious or distorted by vested interests.

Discovery having peaked in the 1960s, production is now set to peak too, with five Middle East countries regaining control of world supply. The oil shocks of the 1970s were short-lived because there were then plenty of new finds to bring on stream. This time there are virtually no new prolific basins to yield a crop of giant fields sufficient to have a global impact. The growing Middle East control of the market is likely to lead to a radical and permanent increase in the price of oil, before physical shortages begin to appear within the first decade of the next century.

The world's economy has been driven by an abundant supply of cheap oil-based energy for the best part of this century. The coming oil crisis will accordingly be an economic and political discontinuity of historic proportions, as the world adjusts to a new energy environment. It is not necessarily bad news as there are solutions, even benefits, provided that action is taken in time. Much concern is already expressed about climate change and pollution, but the debate needs to understand the resource issues as well.

This timely book is critical reading for management and government, as well as being excellent academic material for courses in a range of subjects including economics, environment, resources, geography, political and social sciences and petroleum studies. Bankers and investors can likewise benefit greatly from this advance knowledge of what is to come. The general reader will also not be disappointed by this provocative, readable, well illustrated, thoroughly researched and documented study. The world has grown dependent on oil, and the coming crisis, which is very different from the shocks of the 1970s, will be a discontinuity of historic proportions affecting all Mankind.


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The author

After being awarded a Ph.D. at Oxford in 1957, Dr Campbell joined the oil industry as an exploration geologist. His career took him to Borneo, Trinidad, Colombia, Australia, Papua, USA, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Ireland and Norway, working with international oil companies, and he ended up an an Executive Vice-President. He combines technical knowledge with a thorough grasp of the political and economic factors that are so central to oil.

He is now an Associate of Petroconsultants, advising governments and industry. He has published extensively, and his recent articles have stimulated a lively debate. His views are provocative yet carry the weight of a wide international experience.

In this book, a series of interviews with other experts contribute further insights and knowledge of this critical subject.


key facts

Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Oil: Chemistry, Source and Trap

Chapter 3
The Pioneering Epoch

Chapter 4
Growth and Transition

Chapter 5
Insight and Information

Chapter 6
How Much Oil has been Found

Chapter 7
The Ultimate and the Undiscovered

Chapter 8
Producing What Remains

Chapter 9
Natural Gas, Gas Liquids and Non-Conventional Oil

Chapter 10
Economists Never Get it Right

Chapter 11
Oil Trading and Oil Price

Chapter 12
The Finger Points at Norway

Chapter 13
Alternative and Less Energy

Chapter 14
Through the Wringer - The Industry Today

Chapter 15
Synthesis: What it all Amounts to

210 pages; index, 4 appendices, 164 figures, key country depletion profiles