Engdahl: Confessions of an ex-Peak Oil believer


Richard Moore

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War and "Peak Oil"
Confessions of an Œex¹ Peak Oil believer

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research, September 26, 2007

Confessions of an Œex¹ Peak Oil believer

The good news is that panic scenarios about the world running out of oil anytime
soon are wrong. The bad news is that the price of oil is going to continue to 
rise. Peak Oil is not our problem. Politics is. Big Oil wants to sustain high 
oil prices. Dick Cheney and friends are all too willing to assist.

On a personal note, I¹ve researched questions of petroleum, since the first oil 
shocks of the 1970¹s. I was intrigued in 2003 with something called Peak Oil 
theory. It seemed to explain the otherwise inexplicable decision by Washington 
to risk all in a military move on Iraq.

Peak Oil advocates, led by former BP geologist Colin Campbell, and Texas banker 
Matt Simmons, argued that the world faced a new crisis, an end to cheap oil, or 
Absolute Peak Oil, perhaps by 2012, perhaps by 2007. Oil was supposedly on its 
last drops. They pointed to our soaring gasoline and oil prices, to the declines
in output of North Sea and Alaska and other fields as proof they were right.

According to Campbell, the fact that no new North Sea-size fields had been 
discovered since the North Sea in the late 1960¹s was proof. He reportedly 
managed to convince the International Energy Agency and the Swedish government. 
That, however, does not prove him correct.

Intellectual fossils?

The Peak Oil school rests its theory on conventional Western geology textbooks, 
most by American or British geologists, which claim oil is a Œfossil fuel,¹ a 
biological residue or detritus of either fossilized dinosaur remains or perhaps 
algae, hence a product in finite supply. Biological origin is central to Peak 
Oil theory, used to explain why oil is only found in certain parts of the world 
where it was geologically trapped millions of years ago. That would mean that, 
say, dead dinosaur remains became compressed and over tens of millions of years 
fossilized and trapped in underground reservoirs perhaps 4-6,000 feet below the 
surface of the earth. In rare cases, so goes the theory, huge amounts of 
biological matter should have been trapped in rock formations in the shallower 
ocean offshore as in the Gulf of Mexico or North Sea or Gulf of Guinea. Geology 
should be only about figuring out where these pockets in the layers of the 
earth, called reservoirs, lie within certain sedimentary basins.

An entirely alternative theory of oil formation has existed since the early 
1950¹s in Russia, almost unknown to the West. It claims conventional American 
biological origins theory is an unscientific absurdity that is un-provable. They
point to the fact that western geologists have repeatedly predicted finite oil 
over the past century, only to then find more, lots more.

Not only has this alternative explanation of the origins of oil and gas existed 
in theory. The emergence of Russia and prior of the USSR as the world¹s largest 
oil producer and natural gas producer has been based on the application of the 
theory in practice. This has geopolitical consequences of staggering magnitude.

Necessity: the mother of invention

In the 1950¹s the Soviet Union faced ŒIron Curtain¹ isolation from the West. The
Cold War was in high gear. Russia had little oil to fuel its economy. Finding 
sufficient oil indigenously was a national security priority of the highest 

Scientists at the Institute of the Physics of the Earth of the Russian Academy 
of Sciences and the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Ukraine Academy of 
Sciences began a fundamental inquiry in the late 1940¹s: where does oil come 

In 1956, Prof. Vladimir Porfir¹yev announced their conclusions: ŒCrude oil and 
natural petroleum gas have no intrinsic connection with biological matter 
originating near the surface of the earth. They are primordial materials which 
have been erupted from great depths.¹ The Soviet geologists had turned Western 
orthodox geology on its head. They called their theory of oil origin the 
Œa-biotic¹ theory‹non-biological‹to distinguish from the Western biological 
theory of origins.

If they were right, oil supply on earth would be limited only by the amount of 
organic hydrocarbon constituents present deep in the earth at the time of the 
earth¹s formation. Availability of oil would depend only on technology to drill 
ultra-deep wells and explore into the earth¹s inner regions. They also realized 
old fields could be revived to continue producing, so called self-replentishing 
fields. They argued that oil is formed deep in the earth, formed in conditions 
of very high temperature and very high pressure, like that required for diamonds
to form. ŒOil is a primordial material of deep origin which is transported at 
high pressure via Œcold¹ eruptive processes into the crust of the earth,¹ 
Porfir¹yev stated. His team dismissed the idea that oil is biological residue of
plant and animal fossil remains as a hoax designed to perpetuate the myth of 
limited supply.

Defying conventional geology

That radically different Russian and Ukrainian scientific approach to the 
discovery of oil allowed the USSR to develop huge gas and oil discoveries in 
regions previously judged unsuitable, according to Western geological 
exploration theories, for presence of oil. The new petroleum theory was used in 
the early 1990¹s, well after the dissolution of the USSR, to drill for oil and 
gas in a region believed for more than forty-five years, to be geologically 
barren‹the Dnieper-Donets Basin in the region between Russia and Ukraine.

Following their a-biotic or non-fossil theory of the deep origins of petroleum, 
the Russian and Ukrainian petroleum geophysicists and chemists began with a 
detailed analysis of the tectonic history and geological structure of the 
crystalline basement of the Dnieper-Donets Basin. After a tectonic and deep 
structural analysis of the area, they made geophysical and geochemical 

A total of sixty one wells were drilled, of which thirty seven were commercially
productive, an extremely impressive exploration success rate of almost sixty 
percent. The size of the field discovered compared with the North Slope of 
Alaska. By contrast, US wildcat drilling was considered successful with a ten 
percent success rate. Nine of ten wells are typically ³dry holes.²

That Russian geophysics experience in finding oil and gas was tightly wrapped in
the usual Soviet veil of state security during the Cold War era, and went 
largely unknown to Western geophysicists, who continued to teach fossil origins 
and, hence, the severe physical limits of petroleum. Slowly it begin to dawn on 
some strategists in and around the Pentagon well after the 2003 Iraq war, that 
the Russian geophysicists might be on to something of profound strategic 

If Russia had the scientific know-how and Western geology not, Russia possessed 
a strategic trump card of staggering geopolitical import. It was not surprising 
that Washington would go about erecting a ³wall of steel²‹a network of military 
bases and ballistic anti-missile shields around Russia, to cut her pipeline and 
port links to western Europe, China and the rest of Eurasia. Halford Mackinder¹s
worst nightmare--a cooperative convergence of mutual interests of the major 
states of Eurasia, born of necessity and need for oil to fuel economic 
growth--was emerging. Ironically, it was the blatant US grab for the vast oil 
riches of Iraq and, potentially, of Iran, that catalyzed closer cooperation 
between traditional Eurasian foes, China and Russia, and a growing realization 
in western Europe that their options too were narrowing.

The Peak King

Peak Oil theory is based on a 1956 paper done by the late Marion King Hubbert, a
Texas geologist working for Shell Oil. He argued that oil wells produced in a 
bell curve manner, and once their ³peak² was hit, inevitable decline followed. 
He predicted the United States oil production would peak in 1970. A modest man, 
he named the production curve he invented, Hubbert¹s Curve, and the peak as 
Hubbert¹s Peak. When US oil output began to decline in around 1970 Hubbert 
gained a certain fame.

The only problem was, it peaked not because of resource depletion in the US 
fields. It ³peaked² because Shell, Mobil, Texaco and the other partners of Saudi
Aramco were flooding the US market with dirt cheap Middle East imports, tariff 
free, at prices so low California and many Texas domestic producers could not 
compete and were forced to shut their wells in.

Vietnam success

While the American oil multinationals were busy controlling the easily 
accessible large fields of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran and other areas of cheap, 
abundant oil during the 1960¹s, the Russians were busy testing their alternative
theory. They began drilling in a supposedly barren region of Siberia. There they
developed eleven major oil fields and one Giant field based on their deep 
Œa-biotic¹ geological estimates. They drilled into crystalline basement rock and
hit black gold of a scale comparable to the Alaska North Slope.

They then went to Vietnam in the 1980s and offered to finance drilling costs to 
show that their new geological theory worked. The Russian company Petrosov 
drilled Vietnam¹s White Tiger oilfield offshore into basalt rock some 17,000 
feet down and extracted 6,000 barrels a day of oil to feed the energy-starved 
Vietnam economy. In the USSR, a-biotic-trained Russian geologists perfected 
their knowledge and the USSR emerged as the world¹s largest oil producer by the 
mid-1980¹s. Few in the West understood why, or bothered to ask.

Dr. J. F. Kenney is one of the only Western geophysicists who has taught and 
worked in Russia, studying under Vladilen Krayushkin, who developed the huge 
Dnieper-Donets Basin. Kenney told me in a recent interview that ³alone to have 
produced the amount of oil to date that (Saudi Arabia¹s) Ghawar field has 
produced would have required a cube of fossilized dinosaur detritus, assuming 
100% conversion efficiency, measuring 19 miles deep, wide and high.² In short, 
an absurdity.

Western geologists do not bother to offer hard scientific proof of fossil 
origins. They merely assert it as a holy truth. The Russians have produced 
volumes of scientific papers, most in Russian. The dominant Western journals 
have no interest in publishing such a revolutionary view. Careers, entire 
academic professions are at stake after all.

Closing the door

The 2003 arrest of Russian Mikhail Khodorkovsky, of Yukos Oil, took place just 
before he could sell a dominant stake in Yukos to ExxonMobil after Khodorkovsky 
had a private meeting with Dick Cheney. Had Exxon got the stake they would have 
got control of the world¹s largest resource of geologists and engineers trained 
in the a-biotic techniques of deep drilling.

Since 2003 Russian scientific sharing of their knowledge has markedly lessened. 
Offers in the early 1990¹s to share their knowledge with US and other oil 
geophysicists were met with cold rejection according to American geophysicists 

Why then the high-risk war to control Iraq? For a century US and allied Western 
oil giants have controlled world oil via control of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or 
Nigeria. Today, as many giant fields are declining, the companies see the 
state-controlled oilfields of Iraq and Iran as the largest remaining base of 
cheap, easy oil. With the huge demand for oil from China and now India, it 
becomes a geopolitical imperative for the United States to take direct, military
control of those Middle East reserves as fast as possible. Vice President Dick 
Cheney, came to the job from Halliburton Corp., the world¹s largest oil 
geophysical services company. The only potential threat to that US control of 
oil just happens to lie inside Russia and with the now-state-controlled Russian 
energy giants. Hmmmm.

According to Kenney the Russian geophysicists used the theories of the brilliant
German scientist Alfred Wegener fully 30 years before the Western geologists 
³discovered² Wegener in the 1960¹s. In 1915 Wegener published the seminal text, 
The Origin of Continents and Oceans, which suggested an original unified 
landmass or ³pangaea² more than 200 million years ago which separated into 
present Continents by what he called Continental Drift.

Up to the 1960¹s supposed US scientists such as Dr Frank Press, White House 
science advisor referred to Wegener as ³lunatic.² Geologists at the end of the 
1960¹s were forced to eat their words as Wegener offered the only interpretation
that allowed them to discover the vast oil resources of the North Sea. Perhaps 
in some decades Western geologists will rethink their mythology of fossil 
origins and realize what the Russians have known since the 1950¹s. In the 
meantime Moscow holds a massive energy trump card.

F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics 
and the New World Order, Pluto Press Ltd..

To contact: www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.

His most recent book, forthcoming with Global Research, is Seeds of Destruction,
The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation.

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