Book Reviews

Twilight in the Desert

by Matthew R. Simmons

Review by Richard Sheppard


Potentially scary book about the nature and limitation of the world's largest (Saudi Arabian) oilfields. Only read the first part of the book; the second section contained severe technical elements sure to excite petroleum engineers and geologists but not the uninitiated.

The book raises the important question about how much oil is left - especially in Saudi Arabia - focusing on the remaining, aging, "super-giant" Saudi fields. Discussions about "water-to-oil ratios" and "wellhead pressures," plus other jargon, at least in the first part of the book, are nonetheless informative.

Mr. Simmons, who as an energy investment banker always appreciates higher oil prices, presents a fairly supported, and grim, picture of declining Saudi reserves. And since Saudi Arabia has the world's largest reserves, this is sobering news.

Lower supply means higher prices - always. Scary apprehension in reading this book increases when you're driving around seeing "$3/gallon Regular" signs at your gas station. After reading this book, you will quake at the notion that these will be around longer than we care to imagine, and may represent a bargain in coming years.