Erin Neal has been living in seclusion since his girlfriend's death, and he isn't happy when an oil company executive comes calling. Some important Saudi oil wells have stopped producing, and Erin is the world's foremost expert in resolving these matters. But he has left that world behind. Homeland Security, however, sees things differently.
Erin quickly finds himself stuck in the Saudi desert, studying a new bacteria with a voracious appetite for oil and an uncanny talent for destroying drilling equipment. But worst of all is its ability to spread. It soon becomes clear that if this contagion isn't stopped, it will infiltrate the world's petroleum reserves, cutting off the energy that provides the heat, food, and transportation necessary for survival. As the threat becomes more real, Erin realizes that there's something eerily familiar about this bacteria. And that it couldn't possibly have evolved on its own.