Publications: Notes at the Margin

Irrelevant Oil: Implications (November 4, 2019)


Coping with growing irrelevance is difficult. The Quentin Tarantino movie released this summer, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," tells the story of Rick Dalton, a one-time star of western movies whose time had passed. The actor, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, had been relegated to playing the villain in one B film after another. The story brings home the difficulty of accepting changes in society that render once-popular Hollywood celebrities into character actors playing supporting roles.


The energy industry today, especially oil and gas, is coping with a similar slide into irrelevance. Relatively stable prices, investor demands for payouts, and potentially shrinking demand are pushing companies off the main stage. Energy's poor financial performance relative to other industries has accelerated the public's loss of interest. The coming squeeze from measures to mitigate global warming, combined with slow economic growth and the pressure from low-cost renewables, like the arrival of promising young stars in Hollywood, has only hastened the decline.


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