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Oilfield Expat

I have been meaning to link to the excellent blog Oilfield Expat ever since I found it mentioned in a comment here a few weeks ago. There is so much goodness. You can start with its author’s comment on low oil prices below.

I particularly enjoyed this piece of prose, which I find a useful retort to doom-mongers. It is important because people need to realise that we have it good in order to understand why we have it good, lest they throw it all away, the risks of which the article it is taken from is partly about.

I have long subscribed to the view that, in the developed Western nations, we solved the major issues facing mankind several decades ago: infant mortality, hunger, disease, poverty (the genuine kind, not the SJW “relative poverty”), and deadly violence. Nobody of my generation died of malnutrition, treatable disease, or sectarian violence outside of a (statistically) few extreme cases. By historical standards, those who were born in the West after about 1960-70 were the wealthiest, safest, and most fortunate people ever to have lived. Several factors contributed to this situation. The guns falling silent after WWII followed by a Cold War which thankfully never got hot was probably the most important. The Western nations becoming wealthy was probably the second most important.


three successive generations of Westerners who have found themselves fully fed, clothed, housed, healthy, educated, and blessed with luxuries unseen by anyone else in history (one word to those who doubt this: dentistry). Spoiled rotten, in other words.


Having never seen wholesale malnutrition, destitution, and death, the populations of Western nations believe their standard of living is inevitable, as irrevocable as being born. Fewer and fewer grasp the mechanism by which their standard of living is a result of a section of the population spending their time, efforts, and capital to produce something of value, something that people want to buy with their own money.


They lead lives of such wealth and luxury that pontificating over a potential rise in global average temperatures is considered a more worthy and valuable activity than generating the electricity that powers their entire way of life, and without which most would almost certainly die within weeks.

The blog is robust and straightforward. On concerns about population: “it isn’t condoms that the poor need to start having smaller families, it is 1) increased wealth and 2) reliable, cheap electricity”.

On “those jumped-up tossers in places like Aberdeen”: “A cruise past the offices of the oil and gas companies, the engineering companies, and service providers would show the car parks full of Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, Porsches, Jags, and Bentleys, enabled by soaring wages and full employment of those who work in the oil industry. And now they need a bailout? Fuck them.”

On architects: “Fordham is your run-of-the-mill statist, authoritarian rent-seeker who has amassed a veritable fortune of taxpayers’ cash by preaching to governments from the environmental pulpit (naturally, his grubby mitts can be found all over the London Olympic 2012 facilities). The world would have been better off if he’d stayed in his spare bedroom the past 50 years.”

On the Hubbert curve: “In other words, the curve is subject to change at any point due to unlimited external factors and therefore utterly useless save for an object over which academics can while away the hours pontificating.”

There is technical insight into how to invest in oil in the face of low prices. There is discussion of how well-run Netflix seems to be. There is good, old fashioned Fisking.

I am not even having to drill deep for this quality. It is lying about on the surface in plain sight.

11 comments to Oilfield Expat

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    I will disagree not-so subtly with “we solved the major issues facing mankind several decades ago”. Disease and death remain major concerns. The more obvious manifestations of this are things like cancer, the less obvious manifestation, but only because so many have accepted it, is aging, which should in principle be a curable condition.

    That said, this is a quibble with what otherwise seems like a very refreshing viewpoint.

  • Mr Ed

    aging, which should in principle be a curable condition.

    But we reproduce sexually, with our lifespan finite, we are made so that we may live and die with our function of reproduction fulfilled, assuming that the choice and opportunity arise, and that the hazards of life can be dealt with first. Our genes are prone to error in replication, an aspect of chemistry that our DNA repair system can only do so much to keep up with, so cancer is an aspect of life, as is ageing, giving a certain urgency to life that perhaps lichen (albeit symbionts) lack. And even if we cure ageing, and cancer, we have still to live an economic life, and would still be physically mortal if ageing were ‘cured’.

  • Laird

    To sample the site I read the article linked through “Hubbert Curve”. Excellent. I’ll have to explore farther.

  • Thanks for the plug and the kind words Rob, much appreciated!

  • llamas

    A quick look confirms an approving recommendation.



  • Runcie Balspune

    On this line of thinking, I’d recommend Power Hungry by Robert Bryce, which puts very clear why fossil fuels are virtually irreplaceable, until we develop small scale nuclear, preferably fusion.

  • Rob Fisher

    Actually I agree with Perry M, but thought it was a minor quibble too. Unlike Mr Ed, I don’t think how we were made is any kind of limitation, I want to make us better. I think ageing and disease should all be curable, and that it’s a good idea to try.

  • BTW, we have linked to Oilfield Expat under ‘Specialist’ in the side bar for quite a while. Definitely one of the more interesting sites out there IMO.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Ed, I read recently that scientists claim to have a cure for senile cells in mice- these are cells that simply stay around and clog up the system. Getting rid of them gives definite improvements to the quality and length of the life of the mice, and the scientists are now trying to find drugs that will do the same for humans. We should have extended lifespans in a very short time.
    In short- don’t retire! Unless you’re very rich.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray: I had been lead to understand that the cure for senile brain cells in humans had already been sorted – is that not true? That’s why I like to drink a lot of beer to keep mentally fit.

    As explained by Cliff Clavin, of Cheers. One afternoon at Cheers, Cliff Clavin was explaining the Buffalo Theory to his buddy Norm. Here’s how it went:

    “Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
    In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.
    In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”