Catalogue


The end of oil : on the edge of a perilous new world /
Paul Roberts.
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
description
389 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0618239774
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
isbn
0618239774
catalogue key
5149353
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Paul Roberts is a regular contributor to Harper's Magazine, for which he has written about the timber industry, the auto industry, and the destruction of the Florida Everglades. A longtime observer of both business and environmental issues, Roberts is an expert on the complex interplay of economics, technology, and the environment. He lives in Leavenworth, Washington
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Helen Bernstein Book Award, USA, 2005 : Nominated
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Prologue I was standing on a sand dune in Saudi Arabia's "Empty Quarter," the vast, rust-red desert where one-quarter of the world's oil is found, when I lost my faith in the modern energy economy. It was after sundown and the sky was dark blue and the sand still warm to the touch. My Saudi hosts had just finished showing me around the colossal oil city they'd built atop an oil field called Shayba. Engineers and technicians, they were rattling off production statistics with all the bravado of proud parents, telling me how many hundreds of thousands of barrels Shayba produced every day, and how light and sweet and sought-after the oil was. Saudi oilmen are usually a taciturn bunch, guarding their data like state secrets. But this was post 9/11 and Riyadh, in full glasnost mode, was wooing Western journalists and trying to restore the Saudis'image as dependable long-term suppliers of energy -not suicidal fanatics or terrorist financiers. And it was working. I'd arrived in the kingdom filled with doubts about a global energy order based on a finite and problematic substance-oil. As we'd toured Shayba in a spotless white GMC Yukon, though, my hosts plying me with facts and figures on the world's most powerful oil enterprise, my worries faded. I'd begun to feel giddy and smug, as if I had been allowed to peek into the garden of the energy gods and found it overflowing with bounty. Then the illusion slipped. On a whim, I asked my hosts about another, older oil field, some three hundred miles to the northwest, called Ghawar. Ghawar is the largest field ever discovered. Tapped by American engineers in 1953, its deep sandstone reservoirs at one time had held perhaps a seventh of the world's known oil reserves, and its wells produced six million barrels of oil a day-or roughly one of every twelve barrels of crude consumed on earth. In the iconography of oil, Ghawar is the eternal mother, the mythical giant that makes most other fields look puny and mortal. My hosts smiled politely, yet looked faintly annoyed-not, it seemed, because I was asking inappropriate questions, but because, probably for the thousandth time, Ghawar had stolen the limelight. Like engineers anywhere, these men took an intense pride in their own work and could not resist a few jabs at a rival operation. Pointing to the sand at our feet, one engineer boasted that Shayba was "self-pressurized"-its subterranean reservoirs were under such great natural pressure that, once they were pierced by the drill, the oil simply flowed out like a black fountain. "At Ghawar," he said, "they have to inject water into the field to force the oil out." By contrast, he continued, Shayba's oil contained only trace amounts of water. At Ghawar, the engineer said, the "water cut" was 30 percent. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Ghawar's water injections were hardly news, but a 30 percent water cut, if true, was startling. Most new oil fields produce almost pure oil, or oil mixed with natural gas- with little water. Over time, however, as the oil is drawn out, operators must replace it with water, to keep the oil flowing-until eventually what flows from the well is almost pure water and the field is no longer worth operating. Ghawar wouldn't run dry overnight: depletion takes years and even decades; however, daily production would continue to fall steadily, and the Saudis would be forced to tap new fields, like Shayba, to maintain their status as the world's preeminent oil power. While such e
First Chapter
Prologue I was standing on a sand dune in Saudi Arabias "Empty Quarter," the vast, rust-red desert where one-quarter of the worlds oil is found, when I lost my faith in the modern energy economy. It was after sundown and the sky was dark blue and the sand still warm to the touch. My Saudi hosts had just finished showing me around the colossal oil city theyd built atop an oil field called Shayba. Engineers and technicians, they were rattling off production statistics with all the bravado of proud parents, telling me how many hundreds of thousands of barrels Shayba produced every day, and how light and sweet and sought-after the oil was. Saudi oilmen are usually a taciturn bunch, guarding their data like state secrets. But this was post 9/11 and Riyadh, in full glasnost mode, was wooing Western journalists and trying to restore the Saudis image as dependable long-term suppliers of energy -not suicidal fanatics or terrorist financiers. And it was working. Id arrived in the kingdom filled with doubts about a global energy order based on a finite and problematic substance-oil. As wed toured Shayba in a spotless white GMC Yukon, though, my hosts plying me with facts and figures on the worlds most powerful oil enterprise, my worries faded. Id begun to feel giddy and smug, as if I had been allowed to peek into the garden of the energy gods and found it overflowing with bounty.Then the illusion slipped. On a whim, I asked my hosts about another, older oil field, some three hundred miles to the northwest, called Ghawar. Ghawar is the largest field ever discovered. Tapped by American engineers in 1953, its deep sandstone reservoirs at one time had held perhaps a seventh of the worlds known oil reserves, and its wells produced six million barrels of oil a day-or roughly one of every twelve barrels of crude consumed on earth. In the iconography of oil, Ghawar is the eternal mother, the mythical giant that makes most other fields look puny and mortal. My hosts smiled politely, yet looked faintly annoyed-not, it seemed, because I was asking inappropriate questions, but because, probably for the thousandth time, Ghawar had stolen the limelight. Like engineers anywhere, these men took an intense pride in their own work and could not resist a few jabs at a rival operation. Pointing to the sand at our feet, one engineer boasted that Shayba was "self-pressurized"-its subterranean reservoirs were under such great natural pressure that, once they were pierced by the drill, the oil simply flowed out like a black fountain. "At Ghawar," he said, "they have to inject water into the field to force the oil out." By contrast, he continued, Shaybas oil contained only trace amounts of water. At Ghawar, the engineer said, the "water cut" was 30 percent.The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Ghawars water injections were hardly news, but a 30 percent water cut, if true, was startling. Most new oil fields produce almost pure oil, or oil mixed with natur
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-03-15:
All economic activity is rooted in the energy economy, which means a substantial portion of the current world economy is linked to the production and distribution of oil. But what will happen, Roberts asks, when the well starts to run dry? Walking readers through the modern energy economy, he suggests that grim prospect may not be as far off as we'd like to think and points out how political unrest could disrupt the world's oil supply with disastrous results. But that could be the least of our worries; some of Roberts's most persuasive passages describe an almost inevitable future shaped by global warming, especially as rapidly industrializing countries like China begin to replicate the pollution history of the U.S. Some signs of hope are visible, he believes, especially in Europe, but the stumbling progress of potential alternatives such as hydrogen power or fuel cells is additional cause for concern. And though the current administration's energy policy gets plenty of criticism, Roberts (a regular contributor to Harper's) saves some of his harshest barbs for American consumers, described as "the least energy-conscious people on the planet." If the government won't create stricter fuel efficiency standards, he argues, blame must be placed equally on our eagerness to drive around in gas-guzzling SUVs and on corporate lobbying. Stressing the dire need to act now to create any meaningful long-term effect, this measured snapshot of our oil-dependent economy forces readers to confront unsettling truths without sinking into stridency. This book may very well become for fossil fuels what Fast Food Nation was to food or High and Mighty to SUVs. (May 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2004-09-01:
This introduction to issues related to current and potential future energy (not just oil) is both readable and relevant. Roberts, a journalist, writes in a popular style long on personalities and vignettes and short on hard statistics--the sort of style that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has popularized in his books on global affairs. Roberts makes good use of this style to provide an accessible and interesting discussion of oil and energy that will be useful to nonexperts. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 provides background and context through discussions of the history of oil production, petroleum reserves, the international political economy of oil, and alternative fuels. Part 2 provides an analysis of energy supply and energy demand and examines the potential impact of changing supplies (new energy sources) and changing demand (conservation) on the energy regime. The final section looks to the future, emphasizing both the dire need for change and the strong political and economic forces that exist to resist change. This is a timely book for a world of $40-per-barrel petroleum. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduate students. M. Veseth University of Puget Sound
Appeared in Library Journal on 2004-01-01:
How black gold has shaped us socially and politically and how we can end our dependence on it. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An extraordinarily clear and powerful analysis of what is arguably the most serious crisis our industrial society has ever faced."
"Brilliant."
"May very well become for fossil fuels what Fast Food Nation was to food or High and Mighty to SUVs."
"May very well become for fossil fuels what Fast Food Nation was to food or High and Mighty to SUVs." Publishers Weekly "Brilliant" The Baltimore Sun "A stunning piece of work -- perhaps the best single book ever produced about our energy economy and its environmental implications." New York Review of Books "An extraordinarily clear and powerful analysis of what is arguably the most serious crisis our industrial society has ever faced." Boston Herald
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, January 2004
Booklist, March 2004
Publishers Weekly, March 2004
Choice, September 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
A frank and balanced investigation of the economics and politics of oil-and a forward-looking assessment of a world without it. Within thirty years, even by conservative estimates, we will have burned our way through most of the oil that is readily available to us. Already, the costly side effects of dependence on fossil fuel are taking their toll. Even as oil-related conflict threatens entire nations, individual consumers are suffering from higher prices at the gas pump, rising health problems, and the grim prospect of long-term environmental damage. In The End of Oil , Paul Roberts offers a brisk and timely wake-up call and considers the promises and pitfalls of alternatives such as wind power, hybrid cars, and hydrogen, making this essential reading for anyone looking to understand and react to the energy crisis at hand.
Main Description
Petroleum is now so deeply entrenched in our economy, our politics, and our personal expectations that even modest efforts to phase it out are fought tooth and nail by the most powerful forces in the world: companies and governments that depend on oil revenues; the developing nations that see oil as the only means to industrial success; and a Western middle class that refuses to modify its energy-dependent lifestyle. But within thirty years, by even conservative estimates, we will have burned our way through most of the oil that is easily accessible. And well before then, the side effects of an oil-based society -- economic volatility, geopolitical conflict, and the climate-changing impact of hydrocarbon pollution -- will render fossil fuels an all but unacceptable solution. How will we break our addiction to oil? And what will we use in its place to maintain a global economy and political system that are entirely reliant on cheap, readily available energy? Brilliantly reported from around the globe, The End of Oil brings the world situation into fresh and dramatic focus for business and general readers alike. Roberts talks to both oil optimists and oil pessimists, delves deep into the economics and politics of oil, considers the promises and pitfalls of alternatives, and shows that, although the world energy system has begun its epoch-defining transition, disruption and violent dislocation are almost assured if we do not take a more proactive stance. With the topicality and readability of Fast Food Nation and the scope and trenchant analysis of Guns, Germs, and Steel, this is a vitally important book for the new century.
Table of Contents
Prologuep. 1
The Free Ride
Lighting the Firep. 21
The Last of the Easy Oilp. 44
The Future's So Brightp. 66
Energy Is Powerp. 91
Too Hotp. 116
On the Road to Nowhere
Give the People What They Wantp. 143
Big Oil Gets Anxiousp. 165
And Now for Something Completely Differentp. 188
Less Is Morep. 213
Into the Blue
Energy Securityp. 237
The Invisible Handp. 259
Digging In Our Heelsp. 281
How Do We Get There?p. 307
Notesp. 335
Bibliographyp. 350
Acknowledgmentsp. 359
Indexp. 361
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

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