Energy historian Dan Yergin releases new book on oil's new reality

The New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations is published by Penguin Random House

Daniel Yergin, who is vice chairman of IHS Markit won the Pulitzer Prize for The Prize. Courtesy IHS
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Renowned oil historian Daniel Yergin released a new book on the challenges facing the energy industry due to the disruption wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The award-winning author of The Prize and The Quest, which chronicle the rise of crude as a commodity shaping politics and society, released his latest book The New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations on Tuesday.

The book, which explores energy transition in an environment where climate change and slowing crude demand dominate the landscape is published by Penguin Random House.

“As a result of the pandemic, an uncharted chasm has suddenly appeared on the map, which the world is now beginning to work its way around,” Mr Yergin writes in his latest book.

Mr Yergin, who is vice chairman of IHS Markit, won a Pulitzer for The Prize, which looked at the early entrepreneurialism of America's shale pioneers in Pennsylvania, to the era of the oil embargo by the Arab states in the 1970s.

The latest book looks into the new power dynamics facing the energy markets, with the rise of China and the growing cold war between Beijing and Washington.

Mr Yergin also looks at the waning influence of oil, with the rise of clean energy, the growing backlash against fossil fuels in addition to the rise of newer modes of transportation.

“This is no simple map to follow, for it is dynamic, constantly changing,” Mr Yergin says in the book, as major countries chart intersecting and sometimes conflicting geopolitical paths in a new era of “great power competition.”

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic features prominently in the book, which looks at last impacting on consumer behaviour and energy demand as a result of remote working.

“The office of the future” for many will end up “at home”, he writes, which will mean less commuting, and thus reducing gasoline demand. But that will be offset by more people driving their own cars to avoid mingling with others on public transportation, as indicated by the upsurge in the sale of used cars indicates. And “electrons will replace molecules” as business travellers make more of their trips digitally, rather than in airplanes.