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...

THE OIL MACHINE at Extinction Rebellion Madrid

Tuesday, 28 Nov 2023 at 7:30 PM
Cineforum Rebelde in Madrid, Spain (on Google Maps)

Cineforum Rebelde - Special screening for COP28: The Oil Machine, directed by Emma Davie

Join Extinction Rebellion Madrid for the screening of the documentary The Oil Machine. Prior to the screening there will be a short talk about achievements from previous Conferences of the Parties and the goals set for COP28.

Talk at 19:00, film screening at 19:30.

UK Parliament, Westminster

Monday, 04 Dec 2023 at 6:00 PM
Attlee Suite, Portcullis House in London, United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

  • Drinks and snacks will be provided from 6pm.
  • The programme will run from 6.30pm till 8.00pm.
  • Opportunity for more informal networking thereafter.

The event is hosted by Nadia Whittome MP in collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change.

RSVP now

The award-winning documentary THE OIL MACHINE raises the question if we can break our addiction to oil and gas. Independently produced and co-funded by BBC Scotland and Screen Scotland, the film has won international acclaim at some of the world’s most significant documentary festivals. Across the UK, the film has been shown at more than 180 events to date – many of them hosted by groups who use the film as a tool to spark discussion and instigate action in their own communities. As we speak, the film is also being released in the United States and Norway.

THE OIL MACHINE, directed by Emma Davie, is praised for offering an immersive experience of a highly complex issue, using a multi-stakeholder approach. The film brings together the voices of oil company executives, trade unions, climate scientists, historians, economists, investors, lawyers and young people. This sets it apart from other, more advocacy-focused videos, and has made it an ideal tool to start conversations between different interest groups.

We are inviting Members of Parliament, peers, their staff, and other policymakers in Westminster to get a taste of the acclaimed film through a selection of clips, and to hear directly from the stakeholders who are at the frontline of the struggle to find solutions to what’s arguably the most urgent issue of our times. Key people featured in the film will join us on the night, giving MPs the opportunity to meet and discuss with them:

  • Ann Pettifor, Economist and Author, Prime Economics
  • Jake Molloy, Just Transition team, RMT Union
  • Tessa Khan, Climate Lawyer, Uplift
  • James Marriott, Author and Campaigner, Platform London
  • Guy Prince, Senior Oil & Gas Analyst, Carbon Tracker

While taking a multi-stakeholder approach, the documentary makes it clear that we need to act urgently. Sir David King, the UK’s former Chief Scientific Advisor and Special Representative for Climate Change, says in the film: “I believe that what we do over the next five years will determine the future of humanity for the next millennium.”

So against the backdrop of COP28, we will ask the rather urgent question: “Is the North Sea out of our control?”

The panel will be hosted by writer Jen Stout, who has been reporting from the frontiers of oil (Shetland) and the frontlines of war (Ukraine), always with an emphasis on the human experience. A former BBC journalist, she freelances for outlets like The London Review of Books, Prospect and New Humanist. Her debut book Night Train to Odesa comes out in May 2024.

Please note this is a private event, by invitation only. The RSVP form below is only intended for MPs and peers, their staff, and a number of external invitees. Any unauthorised RSVPs will be cancelled. Please RSVP by 28 November.

Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon

Tuesday, 05 Dec 2023 at 7:00 PM
Quaker Meeting House in Bradford on Avon , United Kingdom (on Google Maps)

Screening of the film The Oil Machine followed by discussion facilitated by Cassie & Nick Aslett. Emma Davie’s documentary captures how oil-based products are deeply embedded in our economy and the environmental impact of its ceaseless extraction.

At the Quaker Meeting House, Whiteheads Lane, BA15 1JU. Come and watch the film and join Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon in the discussion. Please bring cash donation towards room hire. Doors open from 6.30pm.

More info here.

"Thanks to its sheer pertinence, THE OIL MACHINE is essential viewing for everyone from young students to governmental policymakers. It makes for bleak viewing, but it’s mesmerising in its delivery, making you rigid with worry and then alert with proactivity."
 Far Out Magazine, Five movies that will change your perception of the oil industry

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

Now, After THE OIL MACHINE, let’s engage others in the discussion about how we transition away from an oil-based economy. Our campaign has already been making an impact, sparking the conversations and actions that are needed to create a more just and sustainable future. 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

How is your community dealing with the climate emergency? Are you impacted by the current cost-of-living crisis? 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 this?

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. Over 150 groups have hosted free community screenings since November — tell us what you have in mind and we'll help you get going.

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've gone 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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