San Rossore, Italy, 18th and 19th July 2006
(Organised by ASPO-ITALIA under the direction of Professor Ugo Bardi)

ASPO (The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas) was formed in 2000 as an informal network of scientists in European universities and government departments with these declared missions:

  1. To evaluate the world’s endowment and definition of oil and gas;
  2. To study depletion, taking due account of economics, demand, technology and politics;
  3. To raise awareness of the serious consequences for Mankind

It started in a small way, being held together by a newsletter distributed to a handful of people as a convenient medium by which to exchange ideas on a subject that was then far from the mainstream of public awareness. The next step came with the organisation of an International Workshop at Uppsala University in 2002. It was followed by succeeding annual conferences in respectively Paris, Berlin and Lisbon, which attracted increasing attention by participants, numbering several hundred, and growing media coverage. The circulation of the ASPO Newsletter rose in parallel, being also reproduced on several websites. Meanwhile members of the network continued work on the difficult tasks of assembling valid data and modelling depletion.

World events in the Middle East then intervened to draw attention to the issue of Peak Oil, followed more recently by soaring oil and gas prices as capacity limits begin to bite. At first, the reaction was to accuse the producing governments for holding the world to ransom or blame natural disasters for interruptions, but gradually the resource constraints imposed by Nature began to be appreciated.

In short, it can be said that the First Half of the Age of Oil comes to an end. It last 150 years and saw the rapid expansion of industry, transport, trade and agriculture allowing the population to expand in parallel. It also saw the growth of financial capital as banks lent more than they had on deposit, confident that the promise of energy-driven economic expansion offered collateral for debt. The subject of economics was designed to understand and manage a market economy, which in turn gave rise to the politics of the modern world, dedicated primarily to economic growth.

Now, the Second Half of the Age of Oil dawns, and will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depends upon it. No one knows how to react to this situation because it is unprecedented in history, but it becomes by all means a central issue of concern affecting all sectors of the community.

It follows that ASPO finds itself in a central position as more and more attention turns to the critical issues: not so much of Peak Oil itself but rather the vision of the new world that opens on the other side of Peak. Over the past year, ASPO has seen the creation of national affiliates around the world, each dedicated to developing better knowledge of this vital subject in the context of local circumstances.

ASPO ITALIA is to be complimented on organising the 5th International Conference, with the help of its sponsors in Italy. It is to be held close to Pisa where Galileo demonstrated that the Earth revolved around the Sun, making it an appropriate place in which to consider the constraints of Nature. It promises to be an important occasion and a milestone leading to the integration of many diverse elements into a common determination to draw attention to this vital issue with its far reaching impact on the very future of Mankind.

Honorary Chairman
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas

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