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Peak Oil: why the Pentagon is pessimistic [EXCLUSIVE]

“Twilight in the desert” is a book summing up the arguments of a Texan oil banker who suggests that Saudi Arabia is overestimating its future oil production capacity. I’ve learned through the American Department of Defense that this book is the source of two recent Pentagon reports envisaging a severe lack of oil starting in 2012 and continuing until 2015 at least.

Matthew Simmons, who wrote “Twilight in the desert, published in 2005, died in august at the age of 67. His analysis remain a major piece of the peak oil debate.

... The advisory staff of the American armed services seems to consider the fears of Mr. Simmons as well-founded and credible, and based on this, the staff has produced a prognosis of a “severe energy crisis” that is potentially inevitable.

Two biannual reports, having appeared in 2008 and in 2010, describe the “environment” of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff [translator: “inter-armed service forces” in the original] (the JOE reports stand for Joint Operating Environment). They occupy an important place, in this reporter’s opinion, among the recent analyses recognizing the eventuality (or stating the threat) of a fall in the world oil production between now and the middle of this decade.

... The JOE2008 and JOE2010 reports don’t indicate the sources that enabled them to put out this warning (they don’t even mention the names of their authors). Their main author, Joe Purser, Joint Futures Group director at the US Joint Forces Command, did not reply to my questions.

Nevertheless, Kathleen Jabs, head of the press office of the Joint Forces Command, indicates by e-mail that Mr. Purser says “that he had access to a presentation of “Twilight in the Desert” that Matt Simmons gave to Pentagon personnel in February, 2008.”.

Kathleen Jabs states that the two other sources of the JOE2008 and JOE2010 reports are from data furnished by the International Energy Agency, and from an analysis group in the American Department of Energy, the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

For the complete article, see Matthieu's post at Le Monde

Editorial Notes: Matthieu Auzanneau is a French journalist who has been aggressively covering the peak oil story. He posts in French and (some) English at his blog at Le Monde: Oil Man. Reading or linking to the article at his site increases the payments he receives from Le Monde and helps him finance his good work. The article was originally published in French on November 13. Thanks to several Energy Bulletin readers who helped with the translation into English. -BA

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