Iain Stewart

Plymouth University’s Professor Iain Stewart is fronting a ground-breaking new BBC documentary series charting the history and influence of oil production.

With the North Sea oil industry hitting the headlines and the price of crude making news across the globe, this timely new series Planet Oil reflects on the fuel that has come to dominate the modern world.

The three-part series, launching on BBC Scotland on Tuesday 10 February, charts the early days of oil production in the mid-19th Century, the rise of the oil barons, international battles for global control and the fundamental rewiring of geo-politics in the 20th century.

The series also takes the story to the modern day and the technological breakthroughs which have extended the life of existing oilfields as well as the new unconventional and controversial oil and gas supplies, such as shale oil and tar sands.

Iain Stewart, Professor of Geosciences Communication at Plymouth University, says:

“From the first moment, we drew this stuff from the ground, we opened a Pandora’s Box that changed the world. It transformed the way we lived our lives, dictated the outcome of our worst global conflicts, became an obsession for some of our greatest leaders, and turned a simple natural resource into the most powerful political weapon the world has ever known. Over the last 150 years we’ve become more and more dependent on this extraordinary resource. On a personal level, the span of my life has tracked the rise of the oilfields on our own ‘doorstep’ in the North Sea. As a species within the space of less than a life-time, our use of oil has come to define us. It has given us a lot but it has also come at a high price and over the course the three parts of the series we look at the global history of crude oil and how we have got to this point.”

Filmed across the world, from Scotland to Azerbaijan, Planet Oil offers a compelling account of the last 150 years of world history – and reviews the question-marks over our future.

BBC Two Scotland can be viewed on Sky 142 (HD) & 970, Freesat 970 ad the programmes will be available afterwards across the UK on BBC iplayer.

Geology students on field trip to Dartmoor with Professor Gregory Price