Petroleum Economist

The articles here go back only to July 2008, although I’ve been with PE (on and off) since 1999. The rest are available on the magazine’s website. PE is a subscription-based magazine, although free trials are available and many of my pieces are free to read. I’m PE’s editor-at-large (formerly editor).

January 2013

Slowly does it with Iran (Even if a deal happens, oil exports will rise slowly)

December 2013

Lebanese gas stuck in the ground (From Beirut, a piece on the Levant’s problems)

November 2013

IEA: We still need you, Opec (The agency assures the cartel)

Opec pins hopes on China’s cars and shale’s failure (Analysis of the cartel’s too-optimistic view of demand and too-sceptical view of shale)

October 2013

Oil prices ‘remain threat to the world economy’ — IEA (An unpopular message from the agency)

September 2013

Splitting the Gulf (Review of Toby Matthiesen’s excellent book on Gulf politics in the Arab Spring)

August 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Libyan oil protection force in ‘illicit trade’ (Breaking the news of easter separatists’ efforts to sneak out oil)

June 2013

Opec’s rollover: Market tweaking in hands of Saudi Arabia (From the Vienna meeting: the kingdom’s renewed role in keeping oil supply balanced)

May 2013

Opec calm, but problems await (Curtain-raiser for Opec meeting in Vienna)

Eye of the storm (Predicting the problems to come in Libya’s oil sector)

March 2013

Iran and the US edge towards detente (The big thaw and what it will mean for oil)

Beware the slides of March (Oil prices are set for a correction)

January 2013

Iraq’s fractious politics weigh on oil sector (Analysis of the KRG-Baghdad problem)

Terror attack casts long shadow over Algeria’s troubled upstream (The In Amenas atrocity isn’t the only problem for Algeria’s oil sector)

December 2012

Kurdistan eyes major role in Kurdish gas market (Report from Erbil on the KRG’s gas plans)

Oil fuels Iraq-Kurd tensions (From Kirkuk and Erbil, a piece on the KRG vs Baghdad)

Opec: Same quota, same secretary-general (From the Vienna meeting, a piece on a predictable outcome)

Will Iraq be the next oil superpower? (Analysis of the many problems facing Iraq and its oil-output plans)

Opec seeking stability (From Vienna, a curtain-raiser for the Opec meeting)

The limits to growth (Aggressive review of Jeff Rubin’s deficient book on oil and the global economy)

November 2012

World Energy Outlook: The IEA’s winners and losers (On the IEA’s WEO 2012)

October 2012

Strategic stocks: ready and waiting (A look at global readiness for any major supply-side shock)

Saudi Arabia remains the supply-side optimist (From Dammam, a piece on Saudi Arabia’s oil-export strategy)

The kingdom and its discontents (Review of Karen Elliott House’s book on Saudi Arabia)

EXCLUSIVE: ExxonMobil ‘to quit West Qurna-1 (US supermajor shuns south in favour of Kurdistan contracts)

Iraq the makeweight in global supply (Oil-market stability hinges on rapid production growth in a country sill riven by political conflict, believes the IEA)

September 2012

Not needed: more crude oil (Neither a stock release nor the promise of more Saudi oil is likely to break the market’s fever)

Saudi Arabia’s quantitative oil easing (The kingdom doesn’t play the spot market, so its pledge to keep pumping can only do so much)

Gently does it (Rising production and a deal between the KRG and Baghdad are positive. But fragile politics remain a threat to Iraq)

Mean governments ‘must loosen grip on energy sector’ (Report from Dubai, on a plea from the head of Crescent Petroleum)

The light dims (David Crist’s new book documenting US-Iran relations since 1979 will leave its readers very glum about the prospects for peace)

August 2012

EXCLUSIVE: US-led stock release likely in September (Heavily sourced story that flattened oil prices in late August)

The true impact of oil on the US (The division in oil consumption across the world is growing wider, restricting economic growth)

Iran, the White House and a risky stock release (Leader on the nexus of the sanctions, the US election and politically motovated efforts to drive down prices)

July 2012

Not quite scramble time (Libya’s first post-Qadhafi elections had many positives. But clarity for investors is not yet among them)

Why hasn’t Iran spiked the oil market? (Soaring Saudi output has given the West an advantage in its battle with Tehran)

Saudi Arabia steps into the breach (The kingdom’s efforts to balance the market are working. It may herald a new era of oil abundance)

The shale gas-ification of oil (Leader arguing that the unconventional gas revolution will soon become an oil one, too)

What comes next for Libya (Two new books tell the story of the uprising that toppled Muammar Qadhafi. But the new country’s future is still up for grabs)

June 2012

Inside the Opec oil-price bubble (From Vienna, a report on the cartel’s view of the market)

Opec rides into the storm (Curtain-raiser ahead of the group’s Vienna meeting)

May 2012

Keep the taps open (Leader ahead of the Opec meeting, urging them not to cut supplies)

Why resource nationalism works (Leader on Argentina’s Repsol grab, putting it in context)

April 2012

East Mediterranean’s new play gets hotter (Israel’s burgeoning gas reserves could transform a region)

The paradox of plenty (The oil curse is spreading to new petroleum producers. Derek Brower reviews a new book that explains why oil’s grip is so powerful and what can be done about it)

March 2012

Why a stock release won’t work (Leader on the folly of using the SPR to manipulate oil prices)

Taking on Tehran (Are sanctions really the way to stop Iran?)

Iraq’s devils lie in the details (Iraqi oil production is rising, offering hope to the global market. But until the country resolves its political and logistical problems the optimism may be misplaced)

February 2012

WTI’s structural shift (Don’t write off the US, its currency, or its benchmark crude just yet)

A real threat to oil markets (Iran’s nuclear ambition remains a threat to global crude markets, but not because of sanctions on its crude exports)

Sowing the seeds of demand destruction (With Brent trading at an 18-month high, the market’s bulls have reasons to celebrate. But the long-term outlook is troubling. A steep correction is in the cards)

January 2012

The Hormuz red herring (Iran’s influence in Iraq should trouble the oil market more than the threat to the Strait of Hormuz)

September 2011

Exclusive: UK firm lobbies Hague over Libya security deal (Took a while to get past the lawyers. Controversial UK company Heritage oil, William Hague, and efforts to land a private “security” contract with the NTC)

Understanding the Arab Spring (Review of Johnny West‘s from-the-ground book about the upheavals.)

Exclusive: Libya nears appointment of new oil minister (Beating the wires, etc by a day: Abdul-Rahman Benyezza the top candidate)

Libyan oil’s fraught return to market (Analysis taking a slightly less hopeful view than the report below)

August 2011

Exclusive: Full Libyan oil output in ‘four to six months’ (Optimistic briefing from senior NTC oilman, after the fall of Tripoli)

The war for Iraqi oil — beyond the cliche (Review of Greg Muttitt’s fine book, Fuel on the Fire)

Exclusive: Qadhafi talks oil-tanker sale with Russians (Breaking more news about GNMTC and regime efforts to raise cash)

Exclusive: Libya rebels seize gasoline tanker (Another scoop, breaking the news of some derring-do offshore Malta)

The West’s self-destructive oil demand (Update to PE’s graphic showing who’s rich and who’s not in the oil world)

July 2011

Libya’s rebels need cash (The West has been very slow in unfreezing the Qadhafi billions it said it would release to the NTC)

Exclusive: Qadhafi regime bids to sell shipping fleet (Breaking news that Hannibal Qadhafi was trying to flog GNMTC to get some cash)

Exclusive: Libya rebels ready to begin pumping oil (First with the news that fields in rebel control were ready)

Oil market, correct thyself (Another leader saying crude’s too expensive)

Libya: rebels advance, but troubles await (Analysis on troubling divisions within the NTC)

Exclusive: Qadhafi regime tells operators to start pumping oil (Things were getting desperate. But the foreign companies didn’t even turn up at the meeting)

Israel’s plan to wean the world off oil (Good idea. Good luck. Piece based on interviews with prime minister’s office in Jerusalem)

Israel drills for energy security (Analysis from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem of the big gas finds in the Med, and what they’ll mean for the politics)

June 2011

Exclusive: Tunisia bank helping Qadhafi evade oil embargo (Naughty stuff that lengthened the conflict)

IEA pricks oil’s bubble (The stock release and the immediate fall in prices)

Qadhafi loyalists replace Ghanem in top jobs (The regime tries to pretend the wheels haven’t fallen off)

Oil market boom set to bust (Op-ed outlining why I think the commodity bull run is dumb)

Opec: ‘volatility the name of the game’ (Exclusive interview with Abdalla El-Badri, Opec secretary-general)

One step forward, one back, for Libya rebels’ oil exports (Upstream problems delayed the resumption of production)

Qadhafi’s days are numbered (Piece based on one of the many many briefings Western diplomats gave, saying the colonel’s end was imminent. Ahem)

Opec divided (Analysis from a bad-tempered Opec meeting)

Opec row sees angry Saudi Arabia shouldering output rise (Report from Vienna Opec meeting)

Testing time ahead for Opec (Curtain raiser for 8 June meeting. High oil prices vs weakening demand. What to do?)

EU chokes Qadhafi’s fuel supply (Breaking the news that the European Council will widen sanctions against the regime)

Libya at the crossroads (Long magazine piece asking trying to answer how Qadhafi will fall, and what will follow)

May 2011

BP’s Russian deal not dead yet (Op-ed on a deal everything thinks has collapsed. I’ve been well-briefed, and I don’t agree.)

The war for Libya’s oil (My long feature from rebel-held east Libya)

Qadhafi sourcing fuel from Turkey and Italy (A scoop on how the regime is getting its gasoline. This story prompted a shift in Nato’s strategy.)

Opec’s oil-supply dilemma (Unhealthily high prices say Opec should act. But evidence of demand destruction says it won’t. Tough call.)

Qadhafi frantic for fuel (Scoop on fuel and oil trading involving the regime)

Libya’s rebels will ‘reward their friends‘ (One of three exclusives from Benghazi, Libya)

Libya in limbo (My leader on Libya)

Oil market’s time bomb keeps ticking (My leader, on damage from persistent high crude prices)

BP’s Russian pips about to squeak (Securing the Rosneft deal will be pricey for BP)

April 2011

Demand destruction is on its way (High oil prices can’t last)

March 2011

A perfect storm (My leader on the Arab Spring and oil markets)

Opec: ‘the great recession is over’ (Exclusive interview with Opec secretary-general)

February 2011

What the spill commission didn’t say (My leader on failures in US energy policy)

Crazy oil (On the rise in crude prices)

BP’s Rosneft master stroke (On BP’s Russian upstream deal, and why it will work)

December 2010/January 2011

2011: year of the dragon (My leader, an outlook for the year that says China will dominate)

Ezra Levant: oil-sands champion (Profile of Canadian arch-controversialist)

Crude differences (A snazzy table to go with text about which countries are getting rich from high oil prices, and which poor)

The way out of the global gas glut (Embrace weak natural gas prices and wipe out coal)

November 2010

Opec looks east (My leader, on how China now rules the roost in global energy markets)

The energy prophet (A profile of thinker and author Peter Tertzakian)

Suncor reclaims some of the oil-sands debate (An interview with Suncor boss Rick George)

US opposition threatens oil-sands growth (An interview with Alberta energy minister Ron Liepert)

October 2010

Ethical oil and Opec (My leader, discussing Ezra Levant‘s and Opec)

September 2010

Wasted reputations (My leader on the hypocrisy of US oil policy and BP)

Obituary: Matthew Simmons, peak-oil guru (Believe the theory or not — Simmons was a great man)

Enbridge’s oil leak seeps into debate about Canada’s exports to the US (A very bad time to be spilling oil)

Quebec eyes a seat on the shale-gas bandwagon (On the Utica shale-gas field, in Quebec)

August 2010

Tony Hayward: fall guy (My leader on BP’s tribulations post-Macondo)

Why China is buying into North American shale (Analysis after CNPC  and Encana do a deal in northwest Canada)

July 2010

Gazprom: We don’t like shale gas (They would say that, wouldn’t they?)

A steadier boom for the oil sands (Will things be less frenzied this time?)

Gulf oil slick: a potential boon for Canada (What everyone knows, but no-one wants to say)

June 2010

Tragedy for the US; disaster for big oil (Leader on the Gulf slick)

Saudi Aramco wrestles its domestic energy-consumption problem (Saudi Arabia relies too heavily on oil for generation)

Alberta’s oil in demand (The oil sands are becoming the US’ dominant source; and China wants a share, too)

May 2010

Crude market manipulation (Leader on oil prices, and the disappearance of the fundamentals as a driver)

Russia and Ukraine play gas-transit politics (Leader on peace between two gas foes)

Peace at last between Russia and Ukraine over gas prices and transit (A good outcome for Europe)

Venezuela: China secures long-term oil supply, Chávez secures finance (A sweet deal for China)

April 2010

Saudi Aramco steps up oil-export programme (Heavy upstream investment spending in the works)

Unconventional gas takes centre stage (Shale gas dominated Cera Week in Houston)

John Browne: the man who changed the oil industry (Review of Lord Browne’s autobiography)

We must change: Alberta’s overture to the energy sector (On the long-awaited, but not-so-startling, competitiveness review)

March 2010

Opec: give us certainty to invest (Interview with Opec secretary-general Abdalla El-Badri)

In the vanguard of the shale-gas revolution: EnCana and its vision (Interview with Randy Eresman, CEO of Canada’s EnCana)

Talisman Energy turns to the shale (Profile of Talisman)

February 2010

The next wave of M&A activity: North American shale gas (ExxonMobil fired the starter’s gun with its offer for XTO)

The rise of climate-change scepticism (A dangerous trend)

The oil world and its villains (Review of Peter Maass’s book)

Bullish Nord Stream marches on (Optimism from Gazprom-led consortium)

January 2010

Canada’s climate-change wait (Ottawa must see what Washington does first)

A new reality for the EU gas market (Recession and shale gas have changed everything)

Russia: Shtokman plans hit the buffers (The impact of the recession on Gazprom)

BP: Put a price on carbon (The UK major joins the bandwagon)

The EU gets a new energy commissioner (Gunther Oettinger replaces Andris Piebalgs)

Oil, money and greed (A review of Tom Bower’s brilliant new book)

December 2009

The EU’s climate-change gambit (A leader on EU proposals ahead of Cop15)

Europe awaits a shale-gas revolution (Will the US exploits recur in Europe?)

Peak oil debate resurfaces (Yet again)

Oil stocks held in floating storage soar (A worry for the market’s bulls)

November 2009

Markets at work (A leader on the oil price, the boom, the bust, and what it all tells us about the commodity markets)

Gazprom’s global gamble (Despite everything, the company is still bullish)

Iran pledges new gas exports, new investment opportunities (A major scoop of an interview…)

‘Stoical’ Nord Stream upbeat, despite obstacles (The pipeline is on schedule and on budget)

Making sense of energy markets (A profile of Stephen Schork, oil-market guru)

October 2009

China’s oil sands push (PetroChina moves in)

The US natural-gas glut (The biggest energy story in years)

West Africa: Anadarko uncovers a new offshore oil province (Big discovery)

Turkmenistan keeps Russia at bay (Pipeline politics in Central Asia)

September 2009

The US’ private energy source (A leader on Canada’s emergence as the new “energy superpower”)

The emerging energy superpower (Intro to PE’s Canada survey)

Oil sands: bruised but not out (A recovery in the tar)

Dirty oil? (In search of balance in the environmental question)

Carbon capture and storage — or bust (Alberta’s CCS plans)

Pembina Institute: putting Albertans first (A profile of the moderate environmentalist group, the Pembina Institute)

August 2009

The EU’s big gas climb-down (The shift in the fundamentals and how it is affecting the energy-supply question)

UK aims greener and greener (British plans for the green economy)

Russia: Shtokman delay reveals a new weakness (The biggest indicator that all is not well in Russia’s energy strategy)

Iraq’s disappointing licensing round (Not quite how they wanted it)

July 2009

Beware false hopes (A leader on Iran’s energy sector, amid the riots against the regime)

Be careful what you wish for (High oil prices aren’t great for producers)

Industry costs: the big retreat (Rising costs — for steel and other raw materials used in the oil and gas sector — were one reason for soaring oil prices in 2008. A year later they, too, were on the slide)

Gazprom wakes up to new European dawn (The Russian firm struggles in the face of the recession)

Separating climate fact from factoid (A profile of the brilliant energy thinker and Cambridge University physicist, David MacKay)

June 2009

China’s bamboo shoots of recovery (China leads the world out of recession)

The emerald isle grows greener (The UK’s green budget)

May 2009

Surgutneftegaz marches into Hungary (A secretive Russian firm buys into Mol)

Mining coal seams for gas exports (Australia’s unconventional-gas revolution)

April 2009

Opec’s hand is weakened (A leader on the slide in oil demand and Opec’s dilemma: to support prices or shore up market share?)

Opec stares into the abyss (More analysis of the cartel)

TSGP: a trans-Saharan mirage (The unlikely prospect of a pipeline to Europe from Nigeria)

Gerhard Schroeder: from Germany’s leader to Russia’s champion (A profile of the former Chancellor, now an executive at Nord Stream)

March 2009

Venezuela’s oil revolution is stalling (Disaster wrought by Chavez’s well-meaning reforms)

China comes to Russia’s rescue (Cash-rich Beijing’s loans-for-money deal with Moscow)

February 2009

Back to the drawing board for Europe’s energy diversification plans (Reaction to the January 2009 spat between Russia and Ukraine)

Costs stay high despite oil-price slump (A problem for producers and consumers)

Demand slides and WTI is cut adrift (Oil-market complexities)

January 2009

What motivates Opec (The differing agendas of its members)

Russian energy companies target foreign expansion (Anywhere from Europe to Latin America)

EU steps up fight against piracy (Somalia and its waters)

December 2008

Oil market turns its gaze to China (Can it rescue prices?)

Cash the new king of the energy sector (The companies with access to capital will be ok in the recession.)

November 2008

Back in the oil-price cycle (A leader on the market. Anyone who thought economic cycles were over was mistaken)

Opec cuts and the markets shrugs (The cartel struggles to move the market as the recession bites)

Gazprom: the mighty is falling (The Russian company’s problems during the recession)

Nord Stream inches closer (The pipeline has momentum, as well as enemies)

World economy enters the deep freeze (The recession arrives)

October 2008

The energy election (the US presidential race and energy)

Petro-Canada’s operational struggles (a profile of Canada’s struggler)

TNK-BP: peace — for now (The end of civil war in the company?)

September 2008

Iran: battling against the odds (very long odds, too)

TNK-BP saga turns bizarre (A Kafkaesque tale)

Alberta’s chronicler (A profile of Canadian oil-patch historian — and canoeist — David Finch)

August 2008

Opec on the attack (From interviews with Chakib Khelil and Abdalla El-Badri)

The rise of the consultant major (Resource nationalism and its impact on the international oil companies)

July 2008

Mixed messages (Russian energy policy, including report from the bizarre press conference Gazprom gave in Deauville, France)

The subsidisers’ dilemma (How subsidies distort energy demand, countries’ budgets, and the oil market)

Gazprom cedes Armenia to Iran (Russian geopolitical machinations in its ‘near abroad’)



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