A Post-Oil Era is a Myth

The often quoted statement attributed to the former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani that "the Stone Age came to an end not for lack of stone and the Oil Age will end long before we run out of oil" is not strictly accurate. The Stone Age has never ended. It is still with us to this very minute in the form of the stones we continue to use to build houses, bridges and monuments. What has ended is only an aspect of the Stone Age, namely tool-making from stone, which has been substituted for practicability by bronze and metal-tool making with the advent of metalworking, namely, smelting of Bronze and Iron. The same logic applies to oil. There could never be a post-oil era throughout the 21st century and far beyond because it is very doubtful that an alternative as versatile and practicable as oil, particularly in transport, could totally replace oil in the next 100 years and beyond. What will change is some aspects of the multi-uses of oil in transport, electricity generation and water desalination which will eventually be mostly powered by solar energy. However, oil will continue to be used extensively in the global petrochemical industry and other industries and outlets from pharmaceuticals to plastics, aviation and computers to agriculture and also in transport in most of the developing countries. Oil will continue to reign supreme throughout the 21st century and far beyond.

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The often quoted statement attributed to the former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani that "the Stone Age came to an end not for lack of stone and the Oil Age will end long before we run out of oil" is not strictly accurate. The Stone Age has never ended. It is still with us to this very minute in the form of the stones we continue to use to build houses, bridges and monuments. What has ended is only an aspect of the Stone Age, namely tool-making from stone, which has been substituted for practicability by bronze and metal-tool making with the advent of metalworking, namely, smelting of Bronze and Iron. The same logic applies to oil. There could never be a post-oil era throughout the 21st century and far beyond because it is very doubtful that an alternative as versatile and practicable as oil, particularly in transport, could totally replace oil in the next 100 years and beyond. What will change is some aspects of the multi-uses of oil in transport, electricity generation and water desalination which will eventually be mostly powered by solar energy. However, oil will continue to be used extensively in the global petrochemical industry and other industries and outlets from pharmaceuticals to plastics, aviation and computers to agriculture and also in transport in most of the developing countries. Oil will continue to reign supreme throughout the 21st century and far beyond.

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