“Not a history of oil but a history of the world from the point of view of oil.” The Chicago Tribune on Daniel Yergin’s book The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power. Daniel Yergin’s new book The New Map builds on his exhaustive research from previous works (The Prize and The Quest) to sketch a new map of the world in terms of energy production today, tomorrow and beyond. To do this, Yergin gives us a brief history of the energy business, from the year 2000, citing the recent United States oil Shale production as a game changer allowing the U.S. to achieve energy independence for the first time since 1900.
The book details the consequences of this increased oil production in the U.S. that has disrupted historical oil demand, supply lines and prices. Without the U.S. as an importer, OPEC is no longer as dominate as it used to be. Moreover, growth in alternatives has disrupted future worldwide demand and oil price expectations. With the days of OPEC oil pricing dominance over, Mr. Yergin goes to great lengths outlining the economic consequences of these changes. Noting the importance of the oil industry in today’s world economy, Yergin discusses the Mideast economy’s dependency on oil revenues and the ramifications on such dependence. He also notes that other countries, such as Russia and Venezuela, are also under tremendous pressure in today’s low oil price environment.
Yergin keeps the narrative moving on a swift pace that is not too technical, thankfully. With many easy to read statistics and percentages he gives us a clear picture of where we stand today in terms of usage of various forms of energy (oil, wind, solar) and opines on where he thinks these trends are going in the future.
As for the future map, Yergin’s information on climate change and renewables, layered on top of projected overall future energy demand, are worth the price of admission. He makes compelling arguments that oil and gas will continue to have a major impact in the years ahead. And while de does predict substantial growth in alternatives, these horizons are a way off and almost indeterminable given that much progress on alternatives still needs to be made before they can be considered mainstream energy sources.
It’s a book about the future of energy, a book about where we are, and where we are going, and which energy sources will get us there. Highly recommended.