Watch the trailer

Oil has been an invisible machine at the core of our economy and society. It now faces an uncertain future as activists and investors demand change. Is this the end of oil?

By highlighting the complexities of how oil is embedded in our society – from high finance to cheap consumer goods – THE OIL MACHINE brings together a wide range of voices from oil company executives, economists, young activists, workers, scientists, and pension fund managers. It considers how this machine can be tamed, dismantled, or repurposed.

We have five to ten years to control our oil addiction, and yet the licensing of new oil fields continues in direct contradiction with the Paris Climate Agreement. This documentary looks at how the drama of global climate action is playing out in the fight over North Sea oil.

Oil companies are convinced that they can continue to keep drilling while keeping to Net Zero ambitions through adopting new technologies, such as carbon capture. But climate scientists are deeply sceptical of the Net Zero concept and the time it would take for these technologies to be effective.

The film reveals the hidden infrastructure of oil from the offshore rigs and the buried pipelines to its flow through the stock markets of London. As the North Sea industry struggles to meet the need to cut carbon emissions, oil workers see their livelihoods under threat, and investors seek to protect their assets. Meanwhile a younger generation of climate activists are catalysed by the signs of impending chaos, and the very real threat of global sea level rises. THE OIL MACHINE explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society and considers how quickly we can do it.

Directed by Emma Davie, produced by Sonja Henrici

Country: UK | Year: 2022 | Duration: 82’ | Language: English | Format: DCP | Rating: PG


Coming up...

Mill Road Winter Fair, Cambridge

Saturday, 03 Dec 2022 at 2:30 PM
ARU Drama Studio in Cambridge, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

Part of a day of film screenings and activities at the annual Mill Road Winter Fair, hosted by Cambridge Film Projects.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Saturday, 03 Dec 2022 at 6:00 PM
Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Aberystwyth, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£7.50 GBP

Seaford Environmental Alliance, Seaford

Saturday, 03 Dec 2022 at 7:00 PM
The Garden Room in Seaford, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£3.00 GBP

Climate discussion will follow after the film. Part of Seaford Environmental Alliance's ongoing Little Green Cinema programme.

The Gate Picturehouse, London

Sunday, 04 Dec 2022 at 12:00 PM
The Gate Picturehouse in London, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£8.00 GBP

Discussion after the film with

  • Laleh Khalili, author and Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University of London
  • Amelia Womack, former co-deputy leader of the Green Party (2014-2022) and co-chair of the People's Assembly Against Austerity
  • Terry Macalister, former Energy Editor at The Guardian and author of Crude Britannia 
  • hosted by Felicity Beckett, Head of Green Steering Group, Picturehouse Cinemas

WatchDocs, Warsaw

Sunday, 04 Dec 2022 at 8:15 PM
Kinoteka in Warsaw, Poland (on Google Maps)
29.00 zł PLN

Time for Change Argyll, Ardfern

Monday, 05 Dec 2022 at 7:45 PM
Craignish Village Hall in Lochgilphead , United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

Screening followed by Q&A with film director Emma Davie.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022 at 6:00 PM
Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Aberystwyth, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£7.50 GBP

City Screen Picturehouse, York

Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022 at 6:15 PM
City Screen Picturehouse in York, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£12.50 GBP

Discussion with local climate groups following the screening, more details soon. 

QFT, Belfast

Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022 at 6:15 PM
Queen's Film Theatre in Belfast, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£8.40 GBP

Alhambra, Penrith

Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022, time TBC
Alhambra Cinema in Penrith, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£6.50 GBP

RBC Film Theatre, Dumfries

Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022 at 7:30 PM
RBC Film Theatre in Dumfries, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£7.00 GBP

WatchDocs, Warsaw

Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022 at 8:30 PM
Kino Muranów in Warsaw, Poland (on Google Maps)
20.00 zł PLN

Picturehouse @ FACT, Liverpool

Thursday, 08 Dec 2022 at 6:00 PM
Picturehouse @ FACT, Liverpool in Liverpool, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£12.20 GBP

Followed by a discussion with

  • Grahame Buss, former principal scientist for Shell and now an activist
  • James Marriott, a key participant in the film and author of Crude Britannia
  • Steph ThompsonLiverpool Friends of The Earth
  • Youth Strike for Climate Liverpool

Campus West, Herts

Sunday, 11 Dec 2022, time TBC
Campus West in Herts, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

Followed by a discussion with local groups.

Cinema City, Norwich

Monday, 12 Dec 2022 at 6:15 PM
Cinema City in Norwich, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£8.00 GBP

Plus short film Out of the Ashes by Rupert Read and Franny Armstrong. Screening followed by discussion with

  • Rupert Read, Associate Professor of Philosophy at UEA and green activist
  • Karina Aveyard, Associate Professor of Arts, Media and Humanities at UEA and Festival Director of the UEA Green Film Festival
  • Willem Buttinger, Friends of the Earth Norwich
  • hosted by Dilys Goodridge, Green Representative/Champion for Cinema City.

The Cameo, Edinburgh

Monday, 12 Dec 2022 at 6:30 PM
The Cameo in Edinburgh, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£8.00 GBP

Panel discussion to follow, more details soon!

Lighthouse, Poole

Tuesday, 13 Dec 2022 at 5:00 PM
Lighthouse in Poole, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£10.95 GBP

Watershed, Bristol

Tuesday, 13 Dec 2022 at 6:00 PM
Watershed in Bristol, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£11.00 GBP

Followed by a discussion including

  • Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres, composer of the music in The Oil Machine
  • Zoe Rasbash, Environmental Emergencies Action Researcher
  • hosted by Eliz Mizon, The Bristol Cable

Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton

Tuesday, 13 Dec 2022 at 6:20 PM
Harbour Lights Picturehouse in Southampton, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£8.00 GBP

Campus West, Herts

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2022, time TBC
Campus West in Herts, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

The Little Theatre, Bath

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2022 at 6:30 PM
The Little Theatre in Bath, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)
£12.20 GBP

Discussion follows the screening with

  • Dominic Tristram, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Bath
  • Sara Grimes, Head of Community Business Development for Bath & West Community Energy, and Chair of Transition Bath
  • Arfa Shahid, member of the Pakistan delegation to COP27 supporting the Pakistan's Ministry on Climate Change for their National Adaptation Plan
  • John Leach, scientist and climate activist

Tarland Climate Crisis Group

Thursday, 15 Dec 2022 at 6:00 PM
MacRobert Upper Hall in Tarland, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

Soup & screening, presented in partnership with Cromar Food Waste Project.

Screen Porty, Edinburgh

Tuesday, 20 Dec 2022, time TBC
Bellfield in Edinburgh, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

Discussion to follow the screening.

Kyles Cinema, Colintraive

Thursday, 12 Jan 2023 at 7:00 PM
Colintraive Village Hall in Colintraive, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

Join in a discussion after the film.

Do this year’s heat waves worry you? Will you have to choose between heating and eating this winter? Is your job or business in danger because of spiralling energy bills? And are 100 new licences for drilling in the North Sea the right answer to that?

We live in an oil machine and we are running out of time.

The film THE OIL MACHINE shows how much we depend on oil and gas, and why that needs to change.

Now, After THE OIL MACHINE, let’s engage others in the discussion about how we transition away from an oil-based economy. If you’ve just watched the film, or are curious to find out more, here are some ways to get involved.

Sparking discussions after watching the film

Every screening of THE OIL MACHINE can kick off a discussion in your community on how the North Sea plays a role in determining our future.

Find a screening

No matter if you're an oil worker or a climate activist, an investor or an educator, a scientist or a politician – we’d love to hear from you if you can be part of the discussion at one of our screenings. 

Speak at a screening

We also make it very easy for you to host your own event.

Host a screening

What’s been happening since filming THE OIL MACHINE

The issues raised in the film have become even more urgent with recent upheavals in energy security, the cost of living, and our climate. At the same time, the new UK government is rushing to put out 100 new licences for North Sea oil and gas exploration. One year on from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, we’re now going back to the film’s contributors to ask them how recent global events have shaped the ongoing debate about oil.

play_circle Watch catch-up interviews

What needs to come after the oil machine

We have to act now and make sweeping changes that move our societies away from dependence on fossil fuels. What will you do to help? What are your demands from those in power? We're asking the film’s contributors to share their ideas to get you started.

Make a difference

“I believe that what we do over the next five years will determine the future of humanity for the next millennium.”
— Sir David King, UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor 2000–2007, in THE OIL MACHINE

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