I don’t often blog about other people’s work, but in this case I must make an exception. For my money, there is no one in the world more expert on the subject of peak oil than Dr. Colin Campbell, a petroleum geologist who worked with Oxford University, Texaco, British Petroleum, Amoco, Shenandoah Oil, Norsk Hydro, Total Fina, and the Bulgarian and Swedish governments. He is the author of two books and more than 150 papers, and was the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO).
A paper Dr. Campbell authored with petroleum analyst Jean H. Laherrère in the March 1998 issue of Scientific American, “The End of Cheap Oil,” has been widely credited with launching the subject of peak oil into global awareness.
In my early years of studying peak oil, I devoured Dr. Campbell’s work, as he was one of the very few analysts who did detailed work on oil data, and never failed to explain his sources and his reasoning. From 2001 to 2009, he published a monthly newsletter with his continually updated model of world oil and gas supply, in-depth profiles of oil and gas producing countries, energy-related news items, wry observations on the state of the world and the peak oil story, and just a dash of dry British wit. I anticipated those newsletters with the eagerness of a child looking forward to Christmas, and read every word of every issue. (Those of you who have followed my blog since 2001 will recall that I frequently linked to those newsletters.) All 100 issues of it are now archived at ASPO Germany.
The extent to which I have stood on Dr. Campbell’s shoulders in my peak oil work cannot be overstated, and it has been my great privilege to correspond with him from time to time. (He also reviewed my book Profit from the Peak, and gave it a very generous endorsement.)
Campbell’s pithy description of the peak oil problem is one that anyone can understand: “As any beer drinker knows, the glass starts full and ends empty and the faster you drink it the quicker it’s gone.”
Dr. Campbell is now retired, although he still writes occasionally on peak oil. Most recently he published a paper for The Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPRD) entitled “The Post-Peak World” (Oct. 28, 2010), which I wish every economist and policymaker in the world would read.
It was my pleasure to connect him with the good folks at Jim Puplava’s Financial Sense Newshour recently, and Jim’s podcast interview with him was published today. I can’t recommend it highly enough. You can listen to it here: