Arthur Berman: “The Devil is in the Diesel”

November 9, 2022

(Conversation Recorded on October 25, 2022.)

On this episode, petroleum geologist Arthur Berman returns to discuss recent diesel shortages and go into depth on the importance of diesel and the complexity of getting it and other products from a barrel of crude oil. He and Nate also talk about the nuances of the global oil market as it shifts from the effects of the Russian/Ukraine war. Is the USA really a net exporter of petroleum and energy independent? And would making every car and truck on the road electric powered free us from needing crude oil?

About Arthur Berman

Arthur E. Berman is a petroleum geologist with 36 years of oil and gas industry experience. He is an expert on U.S. shale plays and is currently consulting for several E&P companies and capital groups in the energy sector.

Show Notes & Links to Learn More

00:40 – Art Berman Info, PPT for Episode, and Previous TGS Episode

04:11Ukraine/Russia war effects on energy

06:25What is diesel? Why is it important? Why is it in the news? (Slide #10)

10:55Diesel is more energy dense, making it more efficient and cost-effective

11:49Why don’t we use diesel for everything?

12:15US oil is predominantly light, tight oil

12:40Henry Ford, First model ran on ethanol

13:18 First fast rate reserve of oil in the US found in Spindletop

14:07Until the automobile, the main use of oil was kerosene for oil


15:17What are the differences in oil around the world? 

18:33 – What is in a barrel of oil? (Slide #4)

19:15 Propane, Butane, Methane (Slide #3)

19:48A large portion of the oil going into US refineries is imported, because it needs the right type of oil (Slide #7-#9)

21:05How hot do they heat oil at refineries

22:27Chemistry of oil (slide #6)

23:20 What are the lighter portions of a barrel of oil used for? 

26:42 The heavier oil is more polluting

27:00When within territorial waters ships are required to use lighter form of oil

27:30In 2020 the marine community reformed guidelines for fuel and fuel pollution at sea


29:44We cannot make roads the way we do now without the button 10% of a barrel of oil (Slide #5)

30:55Vaclav Smil, 4 Pillars of Modern Civilization

32:05The cement making process is very energy intensive

33:25The Green Revolution and modern fertilizer is heavily dependent on petroleum and natural gas (Haber-Bosch Process)


37:05 Biodiesel is less energy efficient and very corrosive

39:45We’ve had access to more energy each year for the past few centuries


50:05Canada is the biggest source of foreign oil for the United States

50:38Safety and efficiency benefits of the keystone pipeline

51:59Is the US actually a net exporter of oil? 

54:05The US is 85% energy independent

54:55Daily US Oil Imports and Exports

57:00Michael Levi

59:27Just in time global supply system

1:02:35Vladimir Putin has a PHD in Energy Economics + His Thesis

1:09:35How scarcity impacts cooperation



Teaser photo credit: By Meena Kadri –, CC BY 2.0,

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

Tags: American energy independence, biodiesel, crude oil, diesel