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Colin Campbell and 100 months of Peak Oil

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Colin Cambell has now written newsletters for 100 months. 100 months is a long tenure. In his first letter, he introduced the world to a new term, “Peak Oil.” I first made contact with Colin by email in the autumn of 2000 when I needed a little information for a figure, and I believe that it was in December of the same year that I first spoke with him by telephone. He was then writing that which would become newsletter number 1. He spoke about the idea of an organization that would study the peak of oil production and the name ”Association for the Study of the Oil Peak” was mentioned. But the acronym ASOP did not roll off the tongue in the right way so the suggestion to swap the words around to say Peak Oil was discussed. The acronym became ASPO, and the term ”Peak Oil” was coined.

Today, ”Peak Oil” is an expression that is used around the world. The Parliament of the Walloon Region of Belgium has even formed a new standing committee for Peak Oil. Around the world, presidents, public inquiries, parliamentary interrogations, etc. have put Peak Oil on the agenda. I just made a search on Google using the exact term “Peak Oil” and found 2,700,000 hits. Peak Oil is spreading around the world like wildfire. Colin Campbell and ASPO have, for all time, written their names into history. When the history books of the future discuss the first half of the 21st century, Peak Oil will be a part of that history.

Colin Campbell means and has meant so much to so many. He has changed my entire life. Without Colin’s support, it would never have been possible to begin the research work that my group now undertakes at Uppsala University. We now have the opportunity to describe in academic publications many of the ideas that Colin has had regarding the world’s future oil production. The world’s first ”Peak Oil” Ph.D. defended his doctoral thesis in 2007, and Colin was one of the supervisors. Colin has always asserted that ”depletion” is the decisive parameter for the world’s future and we support him. The decline in oilfields is also vital, and we can now show that the maximal depletion is the same as the decline.

Colin concluded his 100th newsletter with these lines:

“This is the hundredth and final Edition of the newsletter. It has been a stimulating experience engendering a deep sense of gratitude to all those who have supported the endeavor with such enthusiasm, many to become close personal friends.”

It is tough to find the right words of thanks from all of us in ASPO. We know that our lives would have been different without your extreme dedication and we are aware that the commitment comes from your heart. Therefore, with all our hearts we say a huge THANK YOU!

I will end with Colin’s definition of the now authentic expression Peak Oil:

“The term Peak Oil refers to the maximum rate of the production of oil in any area under consideration, recognizing that it is a finite natural resource, subject to depletion.”


Kjell Aleklett is Professor of Physics at Uppsala University in Sweden where he leads the Uppsala Global Energy Systems Group (UGES).

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