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The sudden stop imposed by OPEC halted the prodigious, or insane, growth of half a century. The landscape of Fig. 3 shows a steep peak in 1979, followed by years of decline. When production starts to rise again, from the mid 80s, it does so much more gradually. The West had learned the lesson in austerity and for the first time demand was below supply. The market took care of the rest. OPEC was forced to release the prey and prices dropped until the end of the 90s, settling around pre 1973 levels.
However, in the 20th century she had to yield to another power with more natural resources and more work power, where the industrial revolution was still more explosive: the United States of America. The 21st century may well witness the emergence of new powers like China and India, which are already threatening America’s supremacy in many areas. Coal in the 21st Century 29 Coal in the 21st Century In Elizabethan times, London imported around 24,000 t of coal per year (Boyle 2003). 6 million tons, then 10 million around the year 1800 and 250 million in 1900.
Since Drake’s discovery, an intense search for new oil fields has been going on all over the world. The first explorations were in the USA and yielded great amounts, the same in Russia, in the Baku region, at the Caspian Sea, and more recently in Siberia. In Sumatra, Java and Borneo oilfields where discovered in the 19th century. 1910 saw the beginning of explorations in the Middle East. Al-Burgan, the world’s second largest oil field was found in Kuwait in 1938; number one is Al-Ghawar, in Saudi Arabia, discovered in 1948.
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