Oiligarchy - Strategy Game

Below the fold is a copy of the free game Oiligarchy, for some Mother's Day afternoon fun. It is a strategy game, simulating what oil companies do and the obstacles they face. It can also be found at this link.

For a lesson in resource management try "Supreme Commander" ! :o)

It gets especially interesting if you 'stumble' on a very rich resource that you use to build up your economy and what happens when you have finished sucking the life out of it...


A game about Peak Oil where an oil conglomerate can be trillions in the black in the year 2100 isn't very well-researched IMO. I thought the bit about "finishing the job in Iraq" was pretty clever.

You've miss-spelled oiligarchy, as any spell-checker will prove. I thought you were supposed to be cleverer than this.

It is the name of the game Robin.

Are you expecting me to derive some enlightenment from your simplistic cliché there?

Haha Robin. He means the title of the game is a play on words not a typo. If you insert an "i" into Oligarchy it turns into "OIL-igarchy". Because the game is about oil innit.

Fun game. My advice would be to steer clear of Nigeria early on and concentrate your expansion in Venezuela. The latter stages of the game got a bit repetitive. I found myself spending more and more time in Washington just rigging elections. Gave up before I could figure out how to tap the Oil under Saddams palace. Anyone do that?

Haha Robin. He means the title of the game is a play on words not a typo. If you insert an "i" into Oligarchy it turns into "OIL-igarchy". Because the game is about oil innit.

Can you provide any actual statistically-significant evidence for this barely-comprehensible post-hoc thesis of yours? I'm disinclined to just blindly accept it on trust.

Look at the link to the original site.

But that just proves they mis-spelled it too. Standards seem to be falling so fast on tod this week, I have to wonder if it's a case of peak theoildrum.

You must be a fun person to have at parties.

Again, I challenge you to show any logical basis for inferring that speculation from the above. And that's assuming you can provide any meaningful definition of "fun person" in the first place.

Well, you're cracking me up Robin - you definitely get an invite to my party! :)

My efforts here are clearly in vain. I was laboring under the illusion that theoildrum was a site for serious discussion.

The best comedians can keep up a deadpan indefinitely. RobinPC wins my vote for the TOD comedian of the week.

I was never able to drill under the palace.

Here's the funny thing - in the early stages of the game, I tried to restrict supply and drive the price up a bit. But the shareholders became dissatisfied and dumped me. You would think that they would see the value in oligarchical behavior :-).

After the year 2050 or so, things get really funny. You start to see events having to do with food shortages and cannibalism. Eventually, I would hit some sort of limit and it would say something about a nuclear war. I don't know what it is that triggers this.

Ditto on staying out of Nigeria until you absolutely have to. I just start out in Texas and stay there until I need more oil. Eventually I have to start knocking down the small wells and putting up big ones just to raise the total production, but I save that until later stages in the game when I have more money.

Iraq is kind of weird - I had to rig the elections and then put in lots of troops - that sort of kept things stable, but the insurgents would pick them off one by one. I would use Blackwater mercenaries to protect the wells themselves to keep the insurgents from blowing them up, but sometimes it just seemed easier to replace them as the are destroyed rather than try and protect them.

The theme song on the title screen is kind of entertaining. It would have been cool if the oil derrick were to be bobbing up and down in sync with the beat of the song, but I guess that's too much to ask :-).

Actually I went into Nigeria early, stripping the oil so that by the time the natives were revolting there was nothing left. Ditto with Iraq, although those natives were even more revolting.

The interesting part was when you had surveyed everywhere, you knew what as possible, and you knew when you could no longer pump enough. So long as you kept the government on side the shareholders would never sack you, since the price rocketed. You almost need the option "build fortress on south sea island" at that stage.

You get an option in Washington to depose the Sha. That makes Iraq "active." But you need to go back to Washington each year and do a Special Action and send more troops to stabilize the place else they destroy your rigs.
Most of the real action takes place in Washington. It pays to spend heavily there.


Kind of entertaining in a dark sort of way. I think I made it to the year 2076 before the world blew up.

I made it to drilling a well through an exploration vehicle before realising I was out of my depth.

I got rich buying all the patents to HHO powered cars.


The game goes on much too long; mine ended in 2082, though I doubt we'll get halfway there.

I managed to make it to the late 23rd century. The key is that the game introduces "human energy plants", which I suppose the means the excess population is converted to oil (and Chevron is mocked thereby). All is well until I decide to control the government too often and oil demand outstrips supply again. If oil hits $300 for too long, you hit mutually assured destruction. Frankly, I rather would have been fired.

Hi, long time lurker here. I have to say many of the technical posts go right over my head, but many others are a fascinating read.

Gaming is an area I do know however, and I got this result somewhere in the 1990's.

I think I played it "the oildrum" way ^^

Did you mention that to oil your ego or just as a point of information?

I plead guilty to the first, I guess I should have been 'oiligarch' 50 years ago so I could have saved the planet ;-)

I had a collegue at work who showed me the game a few months ago, me being the peak-oil nut over here.

He blew up the earth in short order, and then I had a go and got this retired outcome first go because I refused to build big riggs and block the green lobby at washington. I thought it was funny when I got it, because I didn't think this outcome would have been in the game.

It only took me 2 tries at this game to figure out that government was responsible for the "oil addiction" factor. After you reach PO, you just pull back on the gov't political contributions and you get a de-coupling of the oil/GDP ratio which causes the retirement of the oil executive in the game.

But, before PO, you can't do this or you will be fired.

Ended with M.A.D in 2212.

But I kept the shareholders happy for 250 years. lol. Soylent Green > peak oil!

Yeah, I ended up with MAD in about the year 2150 or so. Part of the trick it seems is to somehow restrict economic growth. I had virtually every spot of land filled with those people-burning factories, (by then nearly all of the underground oil was gone) and it still wasn't enough to prevent the price spike.

You would think though that if you were burning people at a furious rate that the overall rate of consumption would go down...

I did download a flash decompiler so I could see what the algorithms for the game looked like. I suppose it spoils some of the fun in a way, but it isn't like I am going to be spending much more time playing this thing. The game has no fixed endpoint - you keep playing until you are either fired, retired, blown up (MAD scenario), or civilization collapses.

It is a game of course, but at the end of it all I wonder whether it would be in any way a useful teaching tool.

I think its a great teaching tool, except for perhaps the people burning thing. But only because its complete nonsense. Those factories in the game produced 50 bbl a year, which is almost as much as a fullblown oilwell. I have no doubt that if we could produce those amounts of oil by burning people, someone would already be doing it.... In reality humans are net energy consumers. Only the cerebral cortex can produce more energy than it consumes, and even then its only in the abstract sense.

To me it sort of illustrates the point the Albert Bartlett makes in his video regarding exponential growth. The one thing I would like is an indicator in the game to show the overall levels of GDP and oil production - you can get that from the stats, of course, but it isn't on the front page.

The people-burning thing was a bit over the top of course, but to me it is just a more extreme version of the biofuels and the food vs fuel debate. But ultimately even if you do add the people burning plants, you still can run into a "limits to growth" type of endgame.

Great simulation, I enjoyed it! Too bad that it is so close to reality.
The only thing I don't agree with is that the shareholder happiness depends on if enough oil is pumped to meet demand. I'd rather expect that they just look at the company's revenue.
This is how I directed my 'resource management' - resulting in the Final Big Bang just a few decades from here.
So I've learned: Sustainability is boring, so better Get Rich Quick!

BTW: There is another excellent cybernetic policy simulation game about climate policy on the BBC website: Climate Challenge