Erin Neal has been living a secluded life in the Arizona desert since the death of his girlfriend and he isn’t happy when an oil company executive comes calling. A number of important Saudi wells have stopped producing and Erin is the world’s foremost expert in resolving just these kinds of complications. As far as he’s concerned, though, he’s left that world behind. Not his problem. Homeland Security sees things differently. Erin quickly finds himself stuck in the Saudi desert, studying a new bacteria with a voracious appetite for oil and an uncanny talent for destroying drilling equipment. But worst of all is its ability to spread. It soon becomes clear that if this contagion isn’t stopped, it will infiltrate the world’s petroleum reserves, cutting the industrial world off from the energy that provides the heat, food, and transportation necessary for survival. Erin realizes that there’s something eerily familiar about this bacteria. And that it couldn’t possibly have evolved on its own.
In this romantic thriller Cassie Young is a rising star at a prestigious energy consulting firm when she discovers secret files that reveal the truth about the world’s oil supplies; and, it’s not good news. Soon, she finds herself locked in a game of cat and mouse that places her career and ultimately her life on the line. After reading her story, you’ll never think quite the same way about filling your gas tank.
Cassie’s transformation from one of the firm’s true believers into a worried skeptic begins when she meets Victor Chernov, a former oil trader. Contrary to the public pronouncements of her firm and many official agencies, Victor says the world may start running dangerously short of oil–the lifeblood of modern society–within only a few years. In her search for the truth, Cassie uncovers evidence that convinces her Victor is right. But that evidence now makes her a target for those who desperately want to keep an unknowing world in the dark.
A startling reinterpretation of contemporary events, Prelude follows Cassie to the Canadian tar sands; to the heart of Houston, the energy city; to an offshore drilling platform; and to the streets and suites of Washington, D.C. in a journey that unlocks the mysteries of a substance that the world cannot do without.
In two earlier books, Hubbert’s Peak (2001) and Beyond Oil (2005), the geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes laid out his rationale for concluding that world oil production would continue to follow a bell-shaped curve, with the smoothed-out peak somewhere in the middle of the first decade of this millennium–in keeping with the projections of his former colleague, the pioneering petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert.
Deffeyes sees no reason to deviate from that prediction, despite the ensuing global recession and the extreme volatility in oil prices associated with it. In his view, the continued depletion of existing oil fields, compounded by shortsighted cutbacks in many exploration-and-development projects, virtually assures that the mid-decade peak in global oil production will never be surpassed.
In When Oil Peaked, he revisits his original forecasts, examines the arguments that were made both for and against them, adds some new supporting material to his overall case, and applies the same mode of analysis to a number of other finite gifts from the Earth: mineral resources that may be also in shorter supply than “flat-Earth” prognosticators would have us believe.