Mick Winter Reviews Strahan's The Last Oil Shock

This is a review done by Mick Winter of drydipstick.com of The Last Oil Shock by David Strahan.

Author: David Strahan
ISBN: 978-0-7195-6423-9
2007, John Murray - U.K.

The last thing I needed to do was read yet another book about Peak Oil. I've been reading extensively about it since 2003. But I promised the publisher I would read it. So I finally did.

I'm glad I carried out my promise.

The Last Oil Shock is an excellent book. David Strahan has written an informative, insightful and, yes, even entertaining book that delves into the history and causes of Peak Oil, the various "cures" put forward by oil companies and others in Big Energy and Big Politics, and the likely ramifications of both Peak Oil and its alleged—should I say "threatened"?—cures.

The book has a slight UK-centric approach which is a refreshing change from the USA-centric perspective of most other books on the subject. American readers should not be deterred. There's just enough of the British situational viewpoint to understand how universal the problem is, and the uniqueness of the various flavors that energy depletion offers from country to country.

Strahan is first of all a superb journalist. He is objective in his facts, backs up his statements, and offers both breadth and depth in his account of Peak Oil. But Strahan also has a position; one which enhances, rather than obscures, his objectivity. His wry, even biting, sense of humor and his observation of the energy predicament's ironies and, alas, frequent hypocrisies, come through in a manner that allows his facts to be enjoyable digested all the way through the book.

I highly recommend reading The Last Oil Shock.

Although the book's not yet available in the U.S. (but you can order it through Amazon Canada), you can find lots of relevant information at Strahan's website at www.lastoilshock.com, including his interactive oil depletion atlas.

Mick Winter

Author of Peak Oil Prep: Prepare for Peak Oil, Climate Change and Economic Collapse (www.peakoilprep.com)

Thanks Mick, for the review. I enjoy reading all the various books also and look forward to new ones as they arrive. Perhaps someone could give us a heads-up when this becomes available in the States.

IMO the science-based authors have done the best job so far, along with JHK's Long Emergency.

Just read "How to Profit From The Coming Economic Collapse" by Leeb. Not so Good. Poorly written, mostly a rehash of Tainter and Diamond, with mentions of Deffeyes, Simmons, Hubbert and other notables.

When he finally gets around to investment advice (his main thing), it's pretty obvious stuff: Oil and related stocks, gold, and real estate (no chance of a crash there, says he).

Just to add my bit to this. Having just come upon TOD and the whole topic of peak oil in the last month has obviously made me even more curious to go out and find more information. I picked up The Last Oil Shock here in Australia a couple of weeks ago and I could not put it down.

Very good review btw. The book provides some great historical perspectives including an in-depth explanation on the Hubbert's Peak story which I could only find in bits and pieces on the Net.

God forbid we have to go through the Robert Rapier-WestTexas feud again but, he does have a point in that it has been some time since we actually discussed the technicals of peak oil(i.e. Hubbert's Peak) and oil depletion(i.e. Ghawar), I guess because we are nearly all in agreement that it is now upon us and are now predominantly focused on dealing with it's consequences. This is an important paradigm shift that rest of the world has not a glimmer, while we stand beyond, peering back through the veil, at a world oblivious.

For those of us who have read many other books about peak oil, what does this new book give us? Will I learn anything new, or is this the type of book that we ought to recommend to people who are new to the subject?

There was something on NBC about a woman who now saves $350 dollars a month on gasoline by switching to a hybrid. She said that was the cost of a car payment. Look for more of this type action to follow.

Thanks for the review, I am always looking for good books on the topic. As for peak oil, to me we all know that oil is a finite resource that will run out. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but eventually. It is sort of like an earthquake in California, you do not know when, but you know it is coming.

That being the case and in view of the fact that we are so dependent on oil, we should be more cautious. It seems like we have been conditioned to expect fuel availability and so we do expect just that.

In 1973 during the oil embargo, gas lines brought our vulnerability home to everyone. Many are too young to remember that or were not born yet, so I would guess that some of us will have to learn that lesson for the first time and others will learn it again.

No one can see the future, but my latest thoughts are that some day in the next few years we may have to resort to rationing. In 1973, it was the last digit of your license plate number. Odd and even days to go to get fuel. Today I imagine magnetic strip cards, like an ATM card that will let you buy only so much in a given time period.

I'm half way through reading The Last Oil Shock at the moment and strongly recommend this book to TODers for three reasons:

1. It explains why HL50 works using Bentley Curves. HL50 works because of the size distribution of oil fields. If you start with the largest field in an oil province and each subsequent field is 20% smaller then you end up with a peak at 50% of ultimate recoverable regardless of how fast you extract the oil from each field.

2. There are lots of tables with the numbers on substitution of oil by renewables for both the US and UK for transport and plastics.

3. There are many quotes and snippets of information that fill in gaps like the story behind BP/TNK and the mind set of the oil majors and OPEC.

I won't quote from the book because of copyright reasons so you'll have to buy it yourself.