For 10 years, oil analyst Edward Krapels had been preparing for this moment. When it came, in the form of surging crude prices following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, he and his new wife were on a remote Greek island with no telephone, no newspapers and no idea it was happening.

He found out just what was happening upon his return to Athens on Aug. 8, almost a week after the invasion. He said he didn't even stop to think: He called his office, and his employees told him to stay on his honeymoon. The worst was over, they said.

Krapels, the founder and president of Energy Security Analysis Inc. of Washington, still is relaxing in Greece. But there has been little relaxation for the many Washington firms whose business is following and analyzing an industry that faded from public consciousness when oil prices did in the mid-1980s.

Washington isn't energy expert central -- many of the mavens who have held forth on past oil shocks, such as John Lichtblau of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation and Amoco Corp. economist Ted Eck, are based in New York, Chicago, Houston and other centers of industry expertise. But with so many news organizations working in Washington, local analysts are hooking up with reporters from all over the world to offer insights on the Middle East and the turbulent oil market.

"The oil market is very transparent when things are going well," said John Redpath, an oil analyst for Energy Security who works with Krapels. "It's just when a crisis is happening in the Middle East that people start to pay attention. But the rest of us just plod along for years."

And they plod along doing a variety of things: predicting the effect of political and economic changes; keeping track of what affects oil prices; and helping companies and governments plan for energy emergencies such as oil spills, hurricanes and conflicts in the Persian Gulf.

They may be important services, but until recently they just haven't been, well, hot.

Energy experts who work in the D.C. area rather than in New York, Houston or London do so "because Washington is the home of the policymakers," said Rutherford "Bo" Poats, director of research at Bethesda-based Energy Futures Group. And many of them are former Department of Energy veterans who were let go when the Reagan administration dismantled much of the agency in the 1980s.

"I don't think of them as emerging from the woodwork, I think of them as always being here," Poats said of the many analysts who have been widely quoted in the last few weeks. "It's not the kind of activity that you just jump into out of the crowd."

At Petroleum Finance Co., perhaps the largest energy consulting firm in the Washington area, a team of analysts provides analyses primarily to oil companies and governments. They are skeptical about some of the smaller firms that are giving their opinions.

"You have to have resources to be able to make a judgment," said J. Robinson West, president and chief executive of Petroleum Finance. "We think this is a serious business. What confuses us is how these people arrive at their conclusions. What is the basis of their analysis?"

"I think that what bothers you a little bit is everyone has got an angle or a view to drive home and that obviously colors what they say, so it's hard to get a balanced view of what happened," Poats said. "Everyone is jockeying to make sure they drive home their part of the picture."

Whether all the media attention will lead to new business for the local firms isn't certain, West said. "Sometimes big oil companies will retain these people, but those relationships don't last that long," he said. Petroleum Finance, like most energy consulting firms, works on long-term projects with its clients, he said.

But there are those who have happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Edward W. Badolato, president and chief executive of Washington-based Contingency Management Services Inc., has picked up three new clients in the last week. His firm, only a year old, specializes in energy emergencies: electricity blackouts, gas line explosions and oil spills.

"My kind of activity ... has really come to the fore in the 1980s because of the stress on the system," Badolato said, adding that 1989 "was a very good year for CMS. There were more hurricanes, oil spills, pipeline explosions. And poor profits held down a lot of effort to control those areas."

The Persian Gulf crisis, with its dangers of massive damage to oil production facilities in the region, could only add to his business, said Badolato, a former deputy assistant secretary for energy emergencies at the Energy Department.

"When you have ... a lot of hostility involving pipelines and things of that nature, traders are interested in understanding the vulnerability {of their systems}," he said. "And some people are doing some very farsighted thinking about terrorist activities aimed at our own energy infrastructure."

But a business windfall is not necessarily in the minds of other energy experts who are frequently popping up on news broadcasts and in newspaper articles.

"I don't see any broadening of my client base," said Melvin Conant, president of Conant and Associates of Washington, whose particular interest is the geopolitics of oil. But speaking out -- and being heard -- is a political opportunity, he said.

"At long last we're now going to have a chance at defining a national energy policy," Conant said. "General de Gaulle once said of France, 'No country can be governed that has 285 cheeses.' "

"I've been disappointed before, but let's give it one more try," he said.