Refuting Dan Yergin

My friends Gregor Macdonald and Chris Nelder counter Dan Yergin’s recent WSJ assertions about oil and the economy:

Daniel Yergin’s typically sunny outlook on oil in his recent Wall Street Journal piece, “There Will Be Oil,” suggested that technology and new energy discoveries would avert any of the economic disasters portended by peak oil. We found Mr. Yergin’s dismissal of these risks premature and repetitive. After all, he has asserted since 2004 that global oil production was nothing to worry about, and that there would be few effects on the economy.

We counter that managers who would see their businesses survive the next few decades of extreme economic volatility will need to develop some literacy about oil and its complex relationships with the economy. They would be wise to consider the long list of peak oil analyses by the world’s militaries, and they would take heed of the sobering outlook offered by veteran analyst Robert Hirsch for the Department of Energy. And we must correct some of Mr. Yergin’s assertions.

Read the full thing here: There Will Be Oil, But At What Price? – Chris Nelder and Gregor Macdonald – Harvard Business Review.


  1. buck smith says:

    I heard Exxon makes decisions based on $57 per barrel oil as the long term price. That would suggest they think production can grow significantly from current levels. They know more about oil industry than the world's militaries and veteran oil analysts in the DOE.

    Peak oil is undoubtedly the fate of any given oil reservoir. But the proposition that we are at global production peak right now is by no means a given.

  2. Fernando Marty says:

    Diminishing returns on technological progress in field development and "economically recoverable" reserves and common sense pose some doubts on the inexorable increase of supply-to-meet-demand theory, subjectively inferred by Dan Yergin. Nonetheless The Prize is one of the books I have most enjoyed reading in my life, the attractiveness of its historic logics irresistible.


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