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The Post-Peak World by Dr. Colin J. Campbell

October 28, 2010 One Comment

In this paper, Dr. Campbell explains the inherent link between energy and economy, in particular between exponential economic growth and the availability of cheap fossil fuels. He draws on his long-standing expertise as a petroleum geologist, including his own exclusive oil production data-sources, to show how world oil production peaked between 2005 and 2008 – and to warn that we are already inhabiting a ‘post-peak’ economy.

About the Author

Dr. Colin J. Campbell D.Phil (Oxford) is a world renowned petroleum geologist who has worked and consulted for many of the world’s leading oil companies, including British Petroleum, Amoco, Texaco, Shenandoah Oil, Norsk Hydro, Fina, Shell, Esso, and Total, as well as consulting for the European Commission, and Bulgarian and Swedish governments. He is the author of over 150 scholarly papers, and two books, The Coming Oil Crisis (Multiscience, 2005) and An Atlas of Oil and Gas Depletion (Jeremy Mills, 2008).

Dr. Campbell, a founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, is now a Trustee of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC), a charitable organisation in London dedicated to researching the date and impact of the peak and decline of world oil production.

Introduction to the Report

In April 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland filled the skies of Europe with dust, bringing aviation to a standstill for several days. Thousands of travellers were stranded, many having to sleep on terminal floors for days on end. It seemed an extraordinary event, but in fact was by no means the first such occurrence. It transpires that a 50m-thick layer of ash from eruptions about 40 million years ago covers an area from north Norway to France, being well known to oil explorers as the Balder Formation. Things change but Nature remains in command.

We are born into particular circumstances, which we come to accept as the norm. The sons of a Somali pirate or a Wall Street banker have that in common. We all think that the future will offer broadly more of the same. But in fact the Planet has undergone many radical changes over its long history. It is worth therefore reviewing history from such a perspective before zeroing in on recent times, which themselves are marked by radical social and political changes.  The peak of oil supply threatens to be a turning point of historic magnitude, given the central role of oil-based energy in the modern world.

Historians look back and identify epochs having common characteristics in terms of politics, economics, financial conditions and general social attitudes, which wax and wane over time. Empires expand to their peak before contracting.

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Copyright 2010 - Institute for Policy Research & Development

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