This issue of New Solutions brings to our readers the latest information on Peak Oil, obtained when we attended the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) conference this May in Germany. For us, the conference seemed to divide into three parts. The first was probably the most important, and covered the status of oil and natural gas depletion. The presentations were succinct, complete, and gave hard numbers. The second part of the meeting consisted of what one might call “denial presentations” by the big oil companies, car companies and power companies, as well as economists. The third part consisted of alternative panaceas, talks long on options but short on hard data. Our conclusion from the meeting? Peak Oil is real, and it’s getting closer.

The third annual conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) was held in Berlin, Germany on May 25-26, 2004. ASPO is an organization of European petroleum geologists and oil exploration scientists, many of whom worked in the oil industry. Its mission is “to determine the date and impact of the peak and decline of the world’s production of oil and gas, due to resource constraints” ( Two hundred seventy people attended from around the world (11 from the U.S.). There were far more press people present and the media coverage was more comprehensive than at the previous year’s conference held in Paris. Higher attendance, greater media coverage and more participation by the oil and car companies, and government agencies all attest to more serious attention being paid to the ASPO story.

Peak Oil – Getting Closer

The first morning sessions included talks by Colin Campbell from Ireland and Matthew Simmons from the U.S., two of the most knowledgeable and respected people in the world studying peak oil. They have inherited the mantle of M. King Hubbert, the Shell Oil geologist who in 1954 correctly predicted that U.S. oil production would peak in 1970 (Jan. 2004 New Solutions). Campbell, who founded ASPO in 1999, is a retired petroleum geologist. Simmons is the founder and president of Simmons International, Inc., an investment banking firm specializing in oil and gas discoveries. He was also an advisor to the Cheney Energy Task Force. Campbell reported that his research group has moved the date of peak oil from 2010 to 2008, only four years away, and discussed his organization’s current efforts to communicate the significance and urgency of the situation. Campbell thinks that many people have now accepted ASPO’s predictions as valid, and that industry, government, and oil experts are no longer discounting his organization.

Bad News for Natural Gas

Most attendees were looking forward with great anticipation to Simmons’ talk, as he is writing a book (due out this fall) on Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves that questions the numbers provided by the Saudi government. In recent months there has been much debate between Simmons and the Saudi-Aramco (Saudi Arabia’s national oil company) representatives, who deny any foreseeable limitations to their oil and gas production. Simmons, who disagrees, debated the head of the Saudi Oil ministry at a meeting of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in late February.

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