Perhaps the World's Foremost Expert on Oil and the Oil Business Confirms the Ever More Apparent Reality of the Post-9-11 World
by Michael C. Ruppert
Oct. 23, 2002, 17:30 PDT (FTW) -- Colin Campbell is both an academic and a businessman. Educated at Oxford and holding a Masters degree he has served as a geologist for Oxford University, Texaco, British Petroleum and Amoco (prior to the BP Amoco merger). He has served in executive positions with Shenandoah Oil, Amoco, Fina and was Chairman of the Nordic American Oil Company. He has served as a consultant on oil for the Bulgarian government as well as for Statoil, Mobil, Amerada, Total, Shell, Esso and for the firm Petroconsultants in Geneva. He is the Convener and Editor of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and a Trustee of the Oil Depletion Analysis Center in London.
FTW: What will be the likely effects of hitting the downslope of production?
Campbell: Big question. Simply stated: war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens, insofar as the evolution of life on earth has always been accomplished by the extinction of over-adapted species (when their environmental niche changed for geologic or climatic reasons) leaving simpler forms to continue, and eventually giving rise new more adapted species. If Homo sapiens figures out how to move back to simplicity, he will be the first to do so.
FTW: How soon before we start to feel the effects of dwindling oil supplies?
Campbell: We already are -- in the form of the threatened U.S. invasion of the Middle East. The U.S. would be importing 90 percent of its oil by 2020 to hold even current demand and access to foreign oil has long been officially declared a vital national interest justifying military intervention. Probable actual physical shortage of all liquid hydrocarbons worldwide won't appear for about 20 years, especially if deepening recession holds down demand. But people are coming to appreciate that peak is imminent and what it means. Some places like the U.S. will face shortage sooner than others. The price is likely to soar as shortage looms, which itself may delay peak.
If the U.S. does invade there will likely be a repeat of Vietnam with many years of fruitless struggle in which the U.S. will be seen as a tyrant and an oppressor, killing all those Arabs. It can't hope to subjugate the place in perpetuity as the people don't surrender easily -- as the Palestinians have shown. So when the U.S. has finally gone, Russia and China will likely be welcomed there to produce whatever is left in the ruins.
FTW: Are the major oil companies currently downsizing? If so why?
Campbell: The majors are merging and downsizing and outsourcing and not investing in new refineries because they know full well that production is set to decline and that the exploration opportunities are getting less and less. Who would drill in 10,000 feet of water if there were anywhere else easier left? But the companies have to sing to the stock market, and merger hides the collapse of the weaker brethren. The staff is purged on merger and the combined budget ends up much less than the sum of the previous components. Besides, a lot of the executives and bankers make a lot of money from the merger.
FTW: How much oil is really left?
Campbell: You have to think of different categories of oil. Speaking of conventional, which is the easy cheap stuff that has supplied most uses to date and will dominate all supply far into the future, there is about 1 trillion barrels left. To this you have to add:
A) Oil from coal, "shale," tar sands, heavy oil -- the resource is very large, but extraction rate is low and costly, sometimes giving negative net energy.
B) Deepwater oil -- (from a depth of greater than 500 meters) about 60 billion barrels
C) Polar -- about 30 billion, maybe.
D) Natural gas liquids -- about 300 billion barrels
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