© Zebedee Helm

This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.

Oil exploration was once an enterprise with glamour. "Peak oil" was feared as the moment when this natural resource would run out, leaving the world stranded without power. Now, argues John Gapper in this week's column, peak oil has come to mean the opposite: "the prospect of demand peaking in the next 20 years, and reserves being left in the ground because they are not needed."

From the rest of society's point of view, as John points out, and indeed in terms of the environment, this is a positive development — but how should the oil companies adjust to this clear and present danger? One option is to move into other energy sources. Or to transition from oil to gas, as Shell has done. But some of this transformation will be quite fundamental and might possibly make these companies more humble — as John argues, peaking demand for oil could make the oil companies "normal". They will be operating in a different world.

Janan Ganesh writes that US president Donald Trump at least spares the world the idea of American exceptionalism

David Pilling argues that we all collude in exploiting commodity-rich developing nations

Roula Khalaf explores the nationalism and farce of Vladimir Putin's unpredictable Russian rule

Megan Greene explains why, although the markets may be down, the US economy is far from out

What you’ve been saying

We asked FT readers whether British business should accept May's Brexit deal. You can read a selection of answers here. One reader, Dress Sense, says:

By all means business can welcome the withdrawal agreement which gives them more time to prepare, but be warned that they may be using that time to prepare to move business out of the UK.

Markets have a good memory for bailouts: letter from Peter Doyle, Washington, DC, US

Chris Giles is uncharacteristically blasé in concluding from a review of recent market behaviour ahead of Brexit that “the BoE has done its job in ensuring financial stability" …Instead, markets may be confident (nay, certain), based on the 2008-12 experience, that if push really comes to shove, HM Treasury will step in to backstop them in one guise or another, migrating risk on to the fiscal.

Management maxim was Lord Kelvin’s: letter from Michel Philippart, Edhec Business School, Roubaix, France

Andrew Hill quotes the dictum “What gets measured gets managed”, regretting that nobody is able to properly identify who coined it …You can trace it to William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin …"I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind".

Today’s opinion

Inside Business: France grapples with its nuclear power dilemma
Macron’s 10-year energy plan puts off the hard choices — but that is good for EDF 

Markets may be down but the US economy is far from out
The party is over due to trade uncertainty and rising rates but signs of a downturn are few

FT Alphaville: When central banks go green

Donald Trump drops the pretence on American exceptionalism
The supposed epitome of jingoism is less likely to accord special virtue to the US

Tech veterans bring back the original optimism of the internet
Computer experts have innovative ideas on how we can take back control of our data

We all collude in exploiting commodity-rich nations
The power relations of slavery are preserved by global markets 

Nationalism and farce under Vladimir Putin’s unpredictable rule
Russians say Moscow’s intervention in the US elections was treated like a game

You tell us: should business support May’s Brexit deal?
FT readers debate the pros and cons of the withdrawal agreement

Free Lunch: Tariffs are bad for GM and bad for America
Plans to shut car plants teach lessons about protectionism 

FT View

The FT View: The French pick up their pitchforks against President Macron
The ‘gilets jaunes’ protest against fuel prices rattles the government

The Big Read

The Big Read: After Angela: the race to succeed Merkel
The choice of a new leader will determine whether the Christian Democrats want to be a truly conservative party

Get alerts on Newsletter when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article