Tides of Transformation: An Oil Story

The oil industry has historically operated in relative invisibility. Mysterious offshore rigs hundreds of miles out to sea can appear like images of a foreign land; refinery chimneys rising beyond the edges of some of our biggest cities are easy to mistake for just another factory; and bustling offices, the site of monumental decisions affecting generations to come, are just as faceless as the next. Out of sight – and often out of mind. 

But such invisibility belies the overwhelming, ever-presence of oil. It’s in the fuel that powers our cars and aircrafts. It’s in our children’s plastic toys and trinkets. It’s in unseen flows of power, wealth and social capital. It’s in our art galleries, and our sports teams. It’s embedded in our economic policy, our communities, the very structure of our country. 

So, what exactly do we mean when we talk about oil? How is our relationship with it changing? And what would stopping oil really look like? 

These are just some of the questions that we will explore in this series from Intelligence Squared, drawing on recent research from the Fraying Ties? project, supported by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. Through discussion with industry insiders, policy-makers, activists, politicians, trade unionists, ex-oil rig workers and academics we look at the industry in its complexity and ask: given the climate emergency, how must the industry change to facilitate a just, renewable energy transition, and what might a new world – one in which we’ve ceased burning fossil fuels altogether – look like?

Ending Oil
41 min
Regulating Oil
38 min
Who Owns Oil?
40 min
Oil Today: Beyond Extraction
38 min
Introducing: Tides of Transformation
2 min