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Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  605 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Twilight in the Desert reveals a Saudi oil and production industry that could soon approach a serious, irreversible decline. In this exhaustively researched book, veteran oil industry analyst Matthew Simmons draws on his three-plus decades of insider experience and more than 200 independently produced reports about Saudi petroleum resources and production operations. He un ...more
Paperback, 428 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Wiley (first published June 10th 2005)
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John Nelson
The "peak oil" theory holds that the world is running out of oil resources, production soon will begin a precipitous decline, and terrible consequences will result. This theory has been advanced every few years since at least the early 1950s. However, the predicted catastrophe never comes to pass.

This book, published in 2005, represents perhaps the most recent iteration of this theory. The author exhaustively demonstrates that the small number of very large oil fields on which Saudi Arabia's oil
Jim Turner
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a petroleum geologist, I have long known that oilfields have finite lives. They perform very well in their youth, then limp along for years and years of middle and old age. I also knew how the number of very large fields was small, while modest ones were more common.

Matthew Simmons does an excellent job of explaining these facts, and even goes into the basics of petroleum engineering in an easy to understand manner. He then sets out like an investigative reporter going through years and years
Timothy Fitzgerald
This is an interesting read...but in my opinion it is far too long, and laden with technical information. The sense I get is that (and Simmons admits as much) the technical pieces are over the average person's head, but not informed enough to bring value to the technical audience. To me, that begs the question, who benefits from all of it?

In including so much of this technical information, I feel like Simmons often belabored his points, which made things seem extremely redundant (at one point h
Dennis Littrell
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another dire warning that we must develop energy alternatives

In his book Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak (2005) Kenneth S. Deffeyes warned us that peak oil is upon us and that what is left in the ground is just about the same as what we have already used. He pointed to Thanksgiving Day, 2005 as the day oil hit its peak. Now another world renowned expert on oil, Matthew R. Simmons in this densely considered book, is advising us that the estimates of oil left in the ground by the largest
Roger King
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Simmons’ meticulously researched but overwritten thesis is inevitable Saudi oil production decline would precipitate conflict between royal family extravagance and needs of the burgeoning population. He was wrong in the first part but right in the second. Oil production remains steady and Saudi Aramco would allegedly be worth $2 trillion as a public company in 2018. But rather an unexpected drop in oil price ($100 to $30 to current $50) busted the country’s budget and led to “regime change”: you ...more
Christopher Doyle
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Provides decent account of the history of oil production in Saudi Arabia. While Simmons makes clear how surprisingly little technical information we have about the prolific Saudi oilfields, his case for rapid imminent decline of Saudi production appears wholly speculative. As Saudi production hits new highs 15 years later, his thesis is certainly challenged. But was he simply just a little ahead of his time?
Sudhir Chintamani
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a kind of expose. It is about the secrecy surrounding Saudi Arabia's oil reserves. I found it quite fascinating because the author has given evidence. ...more
Sep 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
This book addresses arguably the greatest threat to our industrial civilization, namely whether the biggest source of crude oil in the world has surpassed peak production and if so how fast could the decline be. You would think that such an important issue would have been studied intensively and the subject of much debate but you would be dead wrong. Instead, the Saudis have kept the rest of us in the dark about the extent of their oil reserves and the production details of individual fields in ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a great book--it's a history of the oil industry, a primer on oil production technology, and a history of Saudi Arabia and its oil company Saudi-Aramco. Matt Simmons is one of the primary oil geologists who has been warning the world about "peak oil" for years. This is his magnum opus in which he presents his analysis of little-known Saudi records and reports on their oil supply and production going back decades. His main premise is that Saudi Arabia is about to or has already reached it ...more
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who doesn't think peak oil is real
Recommended to Hava by: documentarys on peak oil
I cannot stress how important I think this book is. I am a recent "convert" to the Peak Oil world - somehow, I've managed to bury my head in the sand (ha ha) in regards to this topic until recently. About a month or so ago, I first heard the phrase "Peak oil" and started investigating it. I haven't stopped yet - I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of the evidence that backs up the idea of peak oil. Unlike many problems facing society today, it is easy to help people understand th ...more
Mike S
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Saudi history, Peak Oil, or how water/gas injection increases oil well output
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very well written book that will quicklly get you up to speed on recent Saudi history, including how the House of Saud and Aramco came into being, and how oil wells are found and managed.

It contains a great deal of data to support the argument that all of the big Saudi wells peaked about 25 years ago and are now in various states of decline, some quite serious, and details how quickly well production can decrease after a well has peaked, as well as how many wells have water and gas pr
May 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in living through the next five years
Recommended to Peter by: Matthew Simmons, interview on TVO
Shelves: current-affairs
Matt Simmons is/was an investment banker in the energy industry. He started asking questions about the Saudi Arabia Aramco oil company. When he could get no official information, he turned to the reports published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

The book is quite detailed in its analysis of the evidence, albeit indirect evidence of the coming decline of Saudi oil production.

He relates the history of oil production in the US and elsewhere, the place Saudi Arabia has taken in stabilizing th
Jan 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is abundantly clear from Simmons's book that he has written from years and years of study and experience in the oil industry. The book makes big strides in trying to corroborate that global oil reserves and production, Saudi Arabia in particular, are near an inflection point.

Simmons is nearly obsessed with this idea of peak oil and its consequences. This obsession and search for the truth of the matter lends some credibility to his work however, I get concerned that his passion and commitmen
Ricardo Suave
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book answers everything about oil that you need to know. The Author (Energy adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush, member of the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Foreign Relations, Founder of Simmons & Company International, Founder of the Ocean Energy Institute in Maine) does a great job of presenting information from a subject matter expert’s point of view and makes the discussion on oil easy for the average person to understand. I liked the fact that the book is an unbias ...more
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
So far, very interesting. I am currently reading about the formation of Saudi Arabia and never knew that FDR met with King Abdul Aziz who was also in a wheelchair. The photo included is a powerful statement on the strengths of people with movement disabilities. The discussions on the levels of oil in the world has been interesting and with the fluctuations of the price of oil these days, it is crazy to think that a barrel of oil was 10 cents during the great depression...

Ok finished. The middle
Chuck McCabe
Nov 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I spent over a year working with the author to turn his manuscript into a publishable book, so naturally I think it's pretty good. The book is based on a review of some 250 technical papers on Saudi Arabia's oil fields contained in the e-library of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The papers detail the kinds of challenges the Saudis are having to deal with as they attempt to maintain or increase their oil production. The book takes a skeptical position on Saudi claims to be a ...more
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a wakeup call. The thesis is that the era of cheap oil in which we have grown up is about to end. The chief culprits are the Saudis who are lying about their capacity to maintain their production of oil and exaggerating their proven reserves. The result will be a profound shock to the world economy unless we take immediate steps to reduce demand for oil. Most of the book is a field by field analysis of oil production in Saudi Arabia. A glossary and acronym list would have been helpf ...more
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe the central work dealing with the idea of peak oil being reached in the global liquid fuels market.

Saudi Arabia being one of the few nations which keeps its books closed on it's oil reserves, Matt found that he could survey the hundreds of engineering reports of consultants who had worked for Saudi Aramco to get clues as to the true nature of Saudi Oil Reserves.

His conclusion is that the aging super giant oil reserves in Saudi Arabia are on the wane, and becoming more difficult and expensi
Michael Weaver
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book gives a good insider perspective about what the oilfields and related processing plants are like in Saudi. As one who has worked with ARAMCO in some commodities trades, this is an accurate insight for the most part. Overall a pretty good book but Simmons seems to overlook the upcoming technologies and their impact in extracting the abandoned oil from the ground and rock. Purely from the aspect of what is conventional, this book works, but from the aspect of what is out of the box, this ...more
Paul Baxter
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well researched argument that manages to stay impartial in presentation. A lot of research has gone into this book, including hundreds of papers approved by ARAMCO representatives. Simmons has managed to communicate the facts at both a dumbed down level, and in a more descriptive manner for those who are familiar with oil reservoir work, ensuring that this is readable at any level. A definite recommendation for anyone concerned about the current state of the economy and the heightened foc ...more
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Reading this book in public made me feel slightly like a conspiracy theorist, but it truly is the easiest way to understand what is going on in Saudi Arabia as well as right here in our little town of Farmington. I have no knowledge of how the oil industry works, but after reading this book, I feel like I can now make educated and informed decisions regarding where I buy my gasoline, and where it comes from.
Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Whoa. Talk about shedding some light on a murky energy situation. This is a must read to understand the global oil supply/demand. This will shift your thinking about what is really out there and what the long term energy solution for the US/World is. The book can be very technical at times. Some knowledge of oil and gas terminology is recommended. Good article on Simmons and his theories in February 2008 Texas Monthly.
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
the peak oil theorist's bible. simmons presents hard-to-refute historical, statistical and geological evidence arguing that oil production cannot expand indefinitely to meet the demands of a growing world, and that the largest producer of oil (Saudi) has dramatically overstated their reserves, and that their production may already be in decline. the theory is compelling but he lays it out in the first 50 pages, the rest is a relatively dry supporting evidence. ...more
Tamer Alshazly
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book, 4 stars and not 5 because i needed more than speculations. The books is full of astonishing facts regarding saudi oil - and the world reserve by relation- but for some unfathomable reasons the saudis are keeping silence or worse they exaggerate the figures, just to secure the easy digested myth about almost infinte oil!?
Frankly i can never understand the reasons behind this secrecy.
Vignesh Rao
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great non-technical book combining the technical & economical aspects, giving important insights into the Saudi Oil Kingdom, which has been an clandestine affair. The book highlights a very comprehensive research done by Matthew R.Simmons, bringing out the Facts & Figure pertaining to saudi gaint & supergaint Oil fields whilst uncovering the underlying problems that have for long put the kingdom's dominant position & future in the global oil market at stake. ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Not the most entertaining read, but filled with technical knowledge about the complex process of finding and drilling oil, as well as some informative background on the politics of OPEC and Saudi Arabia. In particular, I liked the perspective it offered on the motivations behind Saudi Arabia's decision making. ...more
Aug 16, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in Saudi Arabian oil production
This is an incredibly informative book. Maybe too informative. At 450 pages, it's a bit of a slog to get through such dense material, but, when you're done, you can't say you didn't learn something. Simmons paints a pretty bleak picture, but does a pretty good job of supporting his assertions. It would probably be more enjoyable to read a condensed version of this book. ...more
Jan 08, 2008 is currently reading it
Just getting into it. I"m not sure i really need to read it since I've heard the basic conclusion already in an interview. Essentially, the point of the book is that we have reached the peak in oil output and are only going to go downhill from here. This is why I plan to invest a chunk in oil. In the long-run, the price can only go up. It's about as sure of a thing as you'll find these days. ...more
Ryan Abrams
Mar 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Good read on peak oil theory/technical problems in Saudi oilfiends. Also good overview of the history of the petroleum industry in Saudi Arabia. Pretty damn technical for a layperson, but I feel I learned something.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecointelligence
Simmons is the real deal. Having worked as a consultant with Aramco (Saudi Arabia's national oil co.) he had access to tons of documents that showed that some of the megafields of oil are truly in danger of peaking in production very soon, if not already. Excellent book. ...more
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