The world is running out of oil.
Increasing global demand has outstripped supply.
The solution has been to search for oil in ever more remote regions of the world, requiring ever greater technological commitments, and risks. But the catastrophic oil spill off the coast of the US has underlined just how vulnerable and expensive offshore oil drilling is.
The US cannot decide how to satisfy the increasing demand, and with China competing for this precious resource will the world turn once again to the Middle East to fulfill its need?
Already exhausted by oil wars, will this volatile region become the battlefield once again?
Or is there now a more global race for resources, with huge injections from Iraq to Sudan; from Iran to Nigeria; from Equatorial Guinea to Madagascar?
And who holds the power, big oil companies like Exxon Mobil and BP, or leaders like Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and their nationalised industries?
And what happens when the oil really does run out? Who and what will be the dominant power in the 21st century? Nuclear, solar, wind, bio-fuels, algae?
Empire finds out.
Issam Chalabi, former Iraqi oil minister; Professor Michael Klare, World & Peace Security Studies; Professor Terry Lynn Karl, Political Science,Stanford University.
INTERVIEWEES: John Hofmeister, former president, Shell Oil Company; Peter Maass, author Crude World; Simon Taylor, director, Global Witness; Dr Mamdouh Salameh, International oil economist; Professor Ibrahim Oweiss, economist, Georgetown University; Father Matthew Kukah, Shell-Ogoni Reconciliation Process.