sharing in governance of extractive industries

GOXI Film Festival - A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash

For the weekend of August 26, we ask you to watch this powerful documentary and prepare your comments. You can buy/rent the film at:
  • Netflix (Available instantly)
  • iTunes (Available for purchase or rental) 
  • Amazon (for multiple countries)

Synopsis: From Houston to Caracas, the Lake of Maracaibo, the Orinoco delta, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea, via London & Zürich, OilCrash explores the future of oil supply. The film interviews leading authorities such as oil investment banker Matthew Simmons, former OPEC chairman Fadhil Chalabhi, Caltech's head of physics, Professor David Goodstein, Stanford University political scientist, Terry Lynn Karl, peak oil expert, Matthew Savinar and many more.


Directors:            Basil Gelpke, Ray McCormack, Reto Caduff

Run time:             85 minutes

Year released:    2006

Website/trailer:  www.oilcrashmovie.com

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Comment by Ondotimi Songi on April 5, 2014 at 13:49
This trailer to the "A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash" may not be sufficient to provide any comment on this documentary, but it gives away the documentary as one promoting peak oil. My interest is to see the documentary address issues of how oil has contributed to or hindered the sustainable development of resource-rich developing countries (RRDCs). Having taken part of its title from Global Witness' 1999 report on the misuse of Angola's oil wealth, it will be perhaps disappointing if issues of sustainable use of petroleum's revenue to foster improved accountability in RRDCs are not highlighted. On peak oil, though not an area of expertise, I think it is becoming 'old women's fables' in the petroleum industry. The petroleum landscape continues to re-draw and re-invent itself so that new discoveries are made even in stable regions, unconventional gee sources hit the runway, technology advances, and geopolitics redefined. This is the very reason why the discussions should rather than focus on depleting resources be engaged on issues of sustainable use of petroleum centered on environmental protection, benefits to citizens, and linkages to the economy.
Comment by Kobina Aidoo on September 1, 2011 at 14:52

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash is…OK. As a wake-up call on one of the most critical global challenges, it does its job. But I am not a big fan of this style of documentary film.

 Through expert interviews, archival footage and thought-provoking imagery, Oil Crash reveals how dependent Americans have become on fossil fuels and warns of the socio-economic catastrophe that could follow the impending decline in its supply. Petroleum, the film reminds us, is a relatively cheap form of energy. Be that as it may, Americans do not pay enough for what it is worth to them. As world population grows and the middle class expands in China and other countries, demand for oil is skyrocketing. At the same time, we have passed the peak of oil production. Even as exploration and production technology advance, the oil would have to be drawn from harder to reach edges of the world and unstable countries. Together, these two constraints form the recipe for substantially higher oil prices and more oil-based conflict. Alternative energy sources come with their own limitations and will take a long time to reach mass commercial production and adaptation. Coordinated government action is urgently needed to unleash the human ingenuity to develop alternatives.

In light of the exhaustively-discussed conflicts sparked by oil and the recent debates about producing from oil sands, the gravity of the problem is beyond question. And the logic of a future supply crunch is quite straightforward: Depleting resource meets growing population. I was amused by a statement from a Congressman in the film to the effect that if only Americans were educated about the dire consequences of the oil supply crunch, they would change their behavior. If he is that optimistic about Americans’ thirst for oil, I would be surprised if he is still in elected office.

I would have liked to see more originality in the storytelling and more richness in the discussion. Like many such expository documentaries, the film relies heavily on the clever juxtaposition of images and quotes that has been popularized by Michael Moore. That style, for me, can be a bit simplistic in its mission to advocate for an issue, and I come away not feeling educated, but manipulated (at least trying to). But it is indeed a documentary with a cause and I respect that.

To paraphrase one of my favorite newspaper columnists, I did not feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the film. I just felt whelmed.   

Comment by Cindy Kroon on August 29, 2011 at 19:15

A crude awakening it was. After watching ‘The Oil Crash’ I feel like the world is about to end.

What struck me from the movie is how US-focused it is. Makes sense, considering the fact that from the early 1900s the US has been the globe’s biggest overall energy user. Doesn’t make sense, considering the fact that in the summer of 2010 China passed the US and became the world’s biggest energy consumer. China consumed about 4% more energy than the US. China’s energy appetite has transformed global energy markets and made oil and coal prices surge. This will have wide implications for US national security and foreign policy. The US consumes 25% of the world’s energy supply. Truth be told, at the time the movie was made (in 2006), the US still had the doubtful honor of being the world’s largest energy consumer.

Within a timeframe of just 5 years things have changed dramatically. Rapid motorization in China has made it the world’s largest auto market, as more and more people in China swap their bikes, scooters and public transit for passenger cars, still a status symbol in most of the world. Recently though, government support for plug-in vehicles has made the nation a target for world-wide electric vehicle ambitions. China said to invest $15 billion in vehicle electrification.

A switch away from oil is commendable, as ‘The Oil Crash’ has shown. This is really not my area of expertise and I'd love to hear you thoughts on this, but I'm left wondering if, in the case of China’s potential switch to electric vehicles, it is simply a switch to a dependency on a different type of non-renewable: coal and lithium. China’s coal plants are the main electricity generator. Electric vehicles will replace laptops as the biggest market for lithium batteries. Lithium reserves can be found in Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Australia. Will it ever end?

Comment by Matthew Bader on August 29, 2011 at 13:34
It's fantastic that this group is promoting this film.
Comment by Bwesigye Don Binyina on August 29, 2011 at 7:27

Kobina, how can I get a copy of this documentary- The Oil Crash. Would you be kind to get me a copy.


Cheers Don


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