by Colin J. Campbell
published September 2005 ISBN 0 906522 39 0 xx + 397 pp £23.50 (UK)/$34.95 (rest of the world)
Dr Campbell is renowned for the book he published eight years ago, The Coming Oil Crisis. That analysis has been proved right! Now the crisis has come, so we have Oil Crisis. From the vantage point of a lifetime's oil industry experience, he gives a lucid account of why oil production is set to decline - in a nutshell, we are using more than we are finding, because there is not really any significant amount still to be found. That fact explains why Shell has recently restated, and re-stated again and again, its reserves position; why oil is persistently above $50 a barrel (and why Goldman Sachs thinks $100 a barrel is pretty likely); why Central Asia is in turmoil; why America invaded Iraq - competition, in all kinds of ways, is intensifying for the remaining resource. The problem is beyond the grasp of politicians. They can fiddle with ideas about renewables or hydrogen but they, along with most of humanity, have not really grasped that it is the oil economy that enables about a 7 billion world population to be sustained. A wholly new world is imminent. The transition is not likely to be very pleasant. Dr Campbell outlines our grim future unless new policies to face reality can be put in place.
After being awarded a PhD from Oxford in 1957, Dr Campbell began a career as an oil industry exploration geologist. Years in the field were followed by a period in senior management within a number of oil companies. Now he is President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. He has published frequently, lectured widely; his expert opinion is regularly sought by governments and industry around the world. He presently lives in Southern Ireland.
While Dr Campbell always has in mind the general reader as his chief audience, there is no doubt that the quality of his analysis, based as it is on a lifetime's study, will make his book of serious interest to CEOs and senior managers in the oil and gas industry. In academia the whole of this book, and parts of it, will be appropriate for a number of courses in a range of subjects including economics, environment, geography, geology and petroleum studies. In a world where forewarned is to be forearmed, all serious bankers and investors should be sure of reading this book. Likewise, politicians and policy-makers should be sure to read it too.