Author and economist F. William Engdahl has just made a surprising turnabout on peak oil. He now supports the idea of the abiotic origin of petroleum. He seems to be very influenced by the thinking of some Russian scientists.
The abiotic theory is not widely accepted, to put it mildly, and is discounted in peak oil discussions. For background, see Richard Heinberg on Abiotic Oil.
Engdahl's website is Oil Geopolitics
- BA (Energy Bulletin)
Click on the headline (link) for the full text.
Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Confessions of an "ex" Peak Oil Believer
Peak oil and Russia
F William Engdahl, PUB
The good news is that panic scenarios about the world running out of oil anytime soon are wrong. The bad news is that the price of oil is going to continue to rise. Peak Oil is not our problem. Politics is. Big Oil wants to sustain high oil prices. Dick Cheney and friends are all too willing to assist.
On a personal note, I've researched questions of petroleum, since the first oil shocks of the 1970's. I was intrigued in 2003 with something called Peak Oil theory. It seemed to explain the otherwise inexplicable decision by Washington to risk all in a military move on Iraq.
...The Peak Oil school rests its theory on conventional Western geology textbooks, most by American or British geologists, which claim oil is a â€˜fossil fuel,' a biological residue or detritus of either fossilized dinosaur remains or perhaps algae, hence a product in finite supply. Biological origin is central to Peak Oil theory, used to explain why oil is only found in certain parts of the world where it was geologically trapped millions of years ago. ...
An entirely alternative theory of oil formation has existed since the early 1950's in Russia, almost unknown to the West. It claims conventional American biological origins theory is an unscientific absurdity that is un-provable. They point to the fact that western geologists have repeatedly predicted finite oil over the past century, only to then find more, lots more.
Not only has this alternative explanation of the origins of oil and gas existed in theory. The emergence of Russia and prior of the USSR as the world's largest oil producer and natural gas producer has been based on the application of the theory in practice. This has geopolitical consequences of staggering magnitude.
...Western geologists do not bother to offer hard scientific proof of fossil origins. They merely assert as a holy truth. The Russians have produced volumes of scientific papers, most in Russian. The dominant Western journals have no interest in publishing such a revolutionary view. Careers, entire academic professions are at stake after all.
(14 September 2007)
Biofuel conspiracy (peak oil scam) (audio)
Alex Smith, Radio Ecoshock
[Go down the page to BUSH'S BIOFUEL SCAM, then click on the item "F. William Engdahl on Biofuel Scam (18 min)." About 4/5 of way through the interview, Mr. Engdahl presents his new thinking on peak oil, as follows.]
I think peak oil, and believe me i have researched this question as i have few questions in several decades of covering the energy industry as a researcher.
I think the peak oil question is a scam that is covertly being financed by Big Oil . Simply that people say, "Well what can we do, we're running out of oil, so $75 a barrel, $30 a barrel four years ago, That's fate, we have to learn to live with it. That's a whole other issue, it's a geopolitical issue."
It requires to my mind a separate program to really give justice to what I think on that question. In terms of pushing ethanol on consumers to lull them into a feeling of false security, I think that's very much part of the attraction.
(17 August 2007)
The Hidden Agenda Behind Bush's Biofuel Plan
F. William Engdahl, CounterPunch
Buy Feed Corn, They're About to Stop Making It
That bowl of Kellogg's Cornflakes on the breakfast table, or the portion of pasta or corn tortillas, cheese or meat on the table is going to rise in price over the coming months as sure as the sun rises in the East. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the new world food price shock, conveniently timed to accompany our current world oil price shock.
Curiously it's ominously similar in many respects to the early 1970's when prices for oil and food both exploded by several hundred percent in a matter of months. That mid-1970's price explosion led President Nixon to ask his old pal, Arthur Burns, then Chairman of the Fed, to find a way to alter the CPI inflation data to take attention away from the rising prices. The result then was the now-commonplace publication of the absurd "core inflation" CPI numbers--sans oil and food. Stephen Roche was the young Fed economist who was assigned the statistical manipulation job by Burns.
The late American satirist, Mark Twain once quipped, "Buy land: They've stopped making it" Today we can say almost the same about corn or all grains worldwide.
(13 August 2007)
Not directly concerned with peak oil, this article shows Engdahl's thinking on biofuels.
Interview with William Engdahl (text and audio)
Jim Puplava, Financial Sense News Hour
A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
by F. William Engdahl
This book is a gripping account of the murky world of the international oil industry and its role in world politics.
Scandals about oil are familiar to most of us. From George W. Bush's election victory to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US politics and oil enjoy a controversially close relationship. The US economy relies upon the cheap and unlimited supply of this single fuel.
F. William Engdahl takes the reader through a history of the oil industry's grip on the world economy. His revelations are startling. Moving from the post-World War I period up to the present day, he shows how oil is - and has always been - the motivating factor in international policy and conflicts.
Shedding light on the 1970s oil shocks and the grand strategy of Washington after the end of the Cold War, Engdahl presents a convincing case that geopolitics and oil were behind the collapse of the Soviet Union, the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the rise and fall of the Taliban. He reveals evidence to show that the US and UK decision to go to war in Iraq was not simply an issue of corporate greed. It was a strategic move to control the world economy for the following half century or more.
F. William Engdahl has written on issues of energy, politics and economics for more than 30 years, beginning with the first oil shock in the early 1970's. He has contributed regularly to a number of publications, including Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Foresight magazine, Grant's Investor.com, European Banker and Business Banker International. He has also spoken at numerous international conferences on geopolitical, economic and energy subjects, and is active as a consulting economist.
(24 September 2005)
Engdahl's previous position on peak oil.
Writes Big Gav in Sept 2005:
Engdahl had an interview (Real Media) with Financial Sense's Jim Puplava a few days ago which makes interesting listening (be warned - its over an hour long). He discusses the history of oil and how this has been intertwined with geopolitics for a century, and then goes on to talk about peak oil in some depth - which is at the gloomy end of the spectrum when talking about likely future developments.
Iraq and the Problem of Peak Oil
F. William Engdahl, Current Concerns
...It is increasingly clear that the US occupation of Iraq is about control of global oil resources. Control, however, in a situation where world oil supplies are far more limited than most of the world has been led to believe. If the following is accurate, the Iraq war is but the first in a major battle over global energy resources, a battle which will be more intense than any oil war to date. The stakes are highest. It is about fixing who will get how much oil for their economy at what price and who not. Never has such a choke-hold on the world economy been in the hands of one power. After occupation of Iraq it appears it is.
The era of cheap, abundant oil, which has supported world economic growth for more than three quarters of a century, is most probably at or past its absolute peak, according to leading independent oil geologists. If this analysis is accurate, the economic and social consequences will be staggering. This reality is being hidden from general discussion by the oil multinationals and major government agencies, above all by the United States government. Oil companies have a vested interest in hiding the truth in order to keep the price of getting new oil as low as possible. The US government has a strategic interest in keeping the rest of the world from realising how critical the problem has become.
According to the best estimates of a number of respected international geologists, including the French Petroleum Institute, Colorado School of Mines, Uppsala University and Petroconsultants in Geneva, the world will likely feel the impact of the peaking of most of the present large oil fields and the dramatic fall in supply by the end of this decade, 2010, or possibly even several years sooner. At that point, the world economy will face shocks which will make the oil price rises of the 1970's pale by contrast. In other words, we face a major global energy shortage for the prime fuel of our entire economy within about seven years.
The problem in oil production is not how much reserves are underground. There the numbers are more encouraging. The problem comes when large oilfields such as Prudhoe Bay Alaska or the fields of the North Sea pass their peak output. Much like a bell curve, oil fields rise to a maximum output or peak. The peak is the point when half the oil has been extracted. In terms of reserves remaining it may seem there is still ample oil. But it is not as rosy as it seems. The oil production may hold at the peak output for a number of years before beginning a slow decline. Once the peak is past however, the decline can become very rapid. Past the peak, there is still oil, but each barrel becomes more difficult to exploit, and more costly, as internal well pressures decline or other problems make recovery more expensive for each barrel. The oil is there but not at all easy to extract. The cost of each barrel past peak is increasingly higher as artificial means are employed to extract it. After a certain point it becomes uneconomical to continue to try to extract this peak oil.
Because most oil companies and agencies such as the US Department of Energy speak not of peak oil, but of total reserves, the world has a false sense of energy supply security. The truth is anything but secure.
(26 January 2004)
Engdahl's previous position on peak oil.