So ran the headline of an article in the Guardian newspaper on 25 May 2005. The article was a report on proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Oil and Gas Depletion held in Lisbon, Portugal during May 19–20th by an organisation called The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO). The term Peak Oil was first promulgated by the brilliant geophysicist, Dr M King Hubbert, who before his death in 1989 was well known as a world authority on the estimation of energy resources and on the prediction of their patterns of discovery and depletion. “Peak Oil” was Hubbert’s term for the year of the world peak of oil production and usage, after which he predicted a rapid decline in oil availability.

At the ASPO Conference, Matthew Simmons, CEO of an energy investment company, and one of President George Bush’s energy advisers, gave a talk about Saudi Arabia and his soon to be released book Twilight in the Desert, outlining oil production in that company. He affirmed that Saudi Arabia’s oil fields are about to enter depletion, which means global world oil is very close to being in depletion. Simmons also asserted that most OPEC nations beginning from the 1980’s have been progressively overstating both their reserves and production capacity to obtain higher production quotas.

The margin of safety, or excess of production over demand, is currently very low and that, coupled with tight refinery and tanker capacity, has led to the current very high oil prices. High growth rates in emerging economies such as China in particular have also pushed demand to new highs.

If people like Simmons and the ASPO organisation are right, the world may be very close to its peak in oil production and facing a decline which would have catastrophic economic effects. Many in the oil industry suggest they are pessimists who have not properly taken account of better extraction technology and additional oil discoveries which will stretch production for decades. A recent feature in The Economist magazine, while not accepting the assumptions of Simmons and others, still concluded that: “On IEA estimates, the world will need to spend $3 trillion over the next twentyfive years in order to meet expected global demand. Most of that money will go not to increase global supply, but merely to replace output from today’s ageing fields.”

But oil industry analysts are becoming increasingly sceptical of reassuring statements from Governments and bodies such as the International Energy Agency (IEA). Colin Campbell, Oxford PhD and former chief geologist for Amoco states: “About 944bn barrels of oil has so far been extracted, some 764bn remains extractable in known fields or reserves and a further 142bn of reserves are classed as ‘yet-to-find’. If this is so, then the overall oil peak arrives next year.”

According to a report on oil shales and unconventional oil supplies prepared by the US office of petroleum reserves last year,

“world oil reserves are being depleted three times as fast as they are being discovered. Oil is being produced from past discoveries, but the reserves are not being fully replaced. Remaining oil reserves of individual oil companies must continue to shrink. The disparity between increasing production and declining discoveries can only have one outcome; a practical supply limit will be reached and future supply to meet conventional oil demand will not be available. Although there is no agreement about the date that world oil production will peak, forecasts presented by USGS geologist Les Magoon, the Oil and Gas Journal and others expect the peak to occur between 2003 and 2020. What is notable… is that none extend beyond the year 2020, suggesting that the world may be facing shortfalls much sooner than expected.”

It remains true that two thirds of the world’s oil reserves are in the Persian Gulf area. As world demand grows, and vast sums of money are spent to put off the “Peak Oil” disaster scenario, the focus of the world will surely be more and more on the Middle East. A desire for secure oil supplies may yet be one of the key factors inducing the Northern confederacy of Ezekiel 38 to make their move into the Middle East. Perhaps our late brother H P Mansfield was not too far wrong when in public lectures he would suggest the removal of the first two letters of the word “spoil” in Ezekiel 38:12–13.

Russia – Turkey: The New Eurasian Alliance: The Quest for the Lost Empires

‘Watchmen’ will find the following information extremely interesting. Axis News in a report dated 6 June 2005 highlights the growing co-operation between these two formerly hostile countries. First they highlight the traditional perceptions: “For Russians, Turkey has remained, as before, the primordial contender on the Caucasus and Black Sea, the carrier of a hostile culture and alien values, the instrument of American policy and NATO’s sentinel on the southern flank of the weakened Russian empire. For Turks, Russia has been associated with threat—‘the northern bear’— unpredictable, dangerous and capricious.”

But times, and alliances are changing. Axis News comments:

“From the beginning of the new millennium Russia and Turkey started to see each other not as opponents but as partners, both economic, and political. As mutual fears declined, animosity to America increased.

Turkey’s already unsteady relations with Israel continue to deteriorate…. An anti-American mood reigns in the political and intellectual elites of both countries, and simultaneously in both Moscow and Ankara nostalgia over lost influence is felt. Both Russians and Turks do not want the West to consider them as minor, ‘younger’ partners, and they aspire to regain their former influence over the borders of former empires—the Ottoman and Russian. Political leaders and nationalist intellectuals see Turkey and Russia as carriers of the Eurasian historic tradition, compelled to resist the Atlantic cultural and political intrusion into the area. Therefore, remaining a member of NATO and a formal ally of the USA, Turkey has started secretly but insistently, to counteract American policy in all aspects: in relations with the EU, in the Middle East, in Central Asia, Caucasus and Cyprus, and is acting in unison with Moscow. Russia has moved from opposing Turkish membership of the EU to supporting it and has even urged Brussels to speed up the process. It was an obvious reassessment of values. Since the beginning of operations in Iraq, Moscow concentrated on rapprochement with Europe to the disadvantage of the USA. If Turkey enters the EU, keeping and developing relations with Russia, Putin’s stand in Europe will strengthen.”

And thus it becomes obvious that the positioning of these Eurasian powers in the EU is unfortunate for the USA and its main regional ally Israel. The anti-Americanism and the current political position on the Middle-Eastern conflict and Iraq unite three centres of force: Moscow, Brussels and Ankara.”

This indication of a growing linkage between the “Prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal” with “the house of Togarmah of the north quarters” (Ezekiel 38:2–6) is an exciting development.

Russia, Syria, Iran (Turkey)

Over the last year Russian intrigue in the Middle East has become more evident and some clear relationships are emerging. The Israeli “DEBKAfile” recently produced an article headed: “Putin’s Mid East visits signpost unfolding Russian penetration”.

They commented on the sale to the Palestinians by Russia of fifty Russian armoured personnel carriers and sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. At the same time Russia has provided similar missile protection to Iranian nuclear facilities. While publicly opposing Iranian nuclear aspirations, behind the scenes Putin has developed a nuclear relationship with Iran. These developments are seen as just the beginning of Moscow’s push in the Middle East. Moscow is already developing ties with the provisional government of Iraq and its oil ministry in anticipation of the eventual withdrawal of the US.

he US had hoped for the development of a quadrilateral alliance comprising Washington- Ankara-Jerusalem-New Delhi. That hope has disappeared; the quadrilateral alliance which has emerged instead is Russia-Turkey-Iran-Syria. Such a development is right in line with our expectations from Bible prophecy.

Evolving Theory of Intelligent Design

Hear the beautiful words of hymn 128 (echoing Psalm 19):

“In reason’s ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious voice For ever singing as they shine, The hand that made us is Divine.” The world is still “willingly ignorant” of the facts of creation. In England last month one of evolution’s better know apologists, Richard Dawkins, wrote an extensive article in The Times newspaper attacking belief in creation and in particular the notion that there is evidence in creation of intelligent design. I was gratified to read in subsequent letters to the editor that there are scientists ready to respond. One such, by Professor Andy McIntosh, Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds, is worth reproducing. Here it is:

“By building a straw man of creationists (supposedly) misquoting Darwin and Lewontin, Professor Dawkins labels the lot as ‘ignorant’ and skirts the big issue—there is no hard evidence for molecules-to-man evolution. Dawkins has long touted stories on how the eye and other organs came into being by supposed slow evolutionary processes, but there is no experimental evidence, even if one did accept the fossils as a record of such changes. Any serious thinker knows that the fossils of the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ period, near the base of the geological column, include some of the most sophisticated eyes ever known to have existed—the compound eyes of trilobites have double calcite lenses, which defeat any slow evolutionary explanation, and, what is more, they have no precursor in the rocks.

The non-evolutionist side of the argument is growing not because of ignorance, but because of the rise of knowledge about the real facts of science without the fairytale additions of evolutionism. A growing number of academics on both sides of the Atlantic are attracted to the straightforward logic of scientific reasoning.

The logical, coded machinery of DNA and the information system it carries shout design to an unprejudiced mind. Dawkins’s defence is based not on scientific facts, but on ideology. Evolutionary thinking is teetering as a way of looking at the evidence, not because of some isolated problems here and there, but because the whole structure is scientifically wrong.”

I know nothing of this man’s background or beliefs and can therefore offer no endorsement, but isn’t it grand to see common sense spoken well.

The EU Constitution—“No” Vote in France and Holland

We should not be surprised or disheartened by the recent popular vote against the proposed EU Constitution by the French and the Dutch. No historical movement was ever a straight line progression. The usual pattern is two steps forward, one step back. The iron of the feet and toes will be “mixed with miry clay”. The clay speaks of humanity, of the common man—and the voice of the people was against what they perceived as the American style free market libertarianism of the proposed Constitution. They sought a more European, socialist approach. The “Non!” from France may yet produce what we would expect, a constitution more in line with Daniel 2:41–43 and Revelation 16 and 17.

As we might note from all the matters considered, the standard Christadelphian prophetic understanding from Dr Thomas’ days remains not only in no need of change, but is validated more and more as the days progress. Even so, come Lord Jesus.