- Also check our best rated Travel Book reviews
The Oil Road: Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London Hardcover – 10 Sep 2012
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Oil Road opens the lid on the often-shady energy economy, weaving absorbing travel reportage into powerful investigative journalism. ... If you want to know why oil matters read this book. --Time Out
Exploring the political, social and environmental impact of the pipeline as they travel its 1,100-mile length and beyond, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello spin an unexpectedly engaging tale. … A distinctive blend of travelogue, reportage and history…. But the book is more a series of reflections than a polemic or manifesto. Rather than John Pilger or Naomi Klein, the presiding spirit is that of Iain Sinclair. --Financial Times
About the Author
JAMES MARRIOTT and MIKA MINIO-PALUELLO are part of the award-winning environmental social justice group PLATFORM (www.platformlondon.org). Artist, writer, activist and PLATFORM co-director, Marriott is the co-author of The Next Gulf: London, Washington and the Oil Conflict in Nigeria. Minio-Paluello is currently leading PLATFORM's work on banks, oil and climate change. They live in London.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
BP's BFC pipeline 'Road' from the Caspian through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea is taken, but with considerable obstruction from vested legal and on the ground interests. They had enforced their position by drawing up contracts taking 40,000 hours of lawyers' time and requiring 17,000 signatures. (This and other methods contrast with the situation of Shell in Nigeria, attempting to operate in a 'democracy' where the president is changed, and people move more freely around the pipeline.)
BP seems to have been treated as something of a small boy by Washington heavies, and accepted to take the lead on the project, with some of the financial risk being taken by the British taxpayer: It is interesting that BP should have mortgaged their Caspian field output for a $2.5bn loan from patriotic RBS. The Turks made a significant contribution by constructing the 1075km in their country for a fixed fee, well below BP's estimated cost. They could then be blamed for both performance and security failures there, insulating BP's treasury. There were explosions and leaks in 2008, and a blowout in the Caspian offshore fields caused by poor cementing, not long before the Gulf of Mexico operational disaster.
The book records the names of experienced Texan oilmen who drove the project through, former employees of Arco and Amoco, US second rank oil companies taken over by BP. It was possibly President Clinton's Central Asian strategy and a quid pro quo that BP would be allowed to take over Amoco if it led this high-risk project. Baku in Azerbaijan was not BP's first choice location, but they were 'outplayed' by US Chevron for Kazakstan. Mrs Thatcher had weighed in to assist ('can do business with Mr Gorbachev'), and patriotically visited Baku briefly in 1992 after she had been ousted. Lord Browne, as new BP Head of E&P had visited in 1990.
The US was able to establish a new military base under British operational cover close to the border of Russia, almost more provocative than the 1960s placing of missiles on the northern shores of Turkey, prompting the Russians to do the same in Cuba.
By the end of 1990 BP had won 'an exclusive deal for the field, with no competitive bidding process', and gave support to the new Azeri dictator Aliyev, who set about creating his cult, like Putin drawing on previous experience/contacts working for the KGB. He created an Executive Power structure alongside the democratic process of village 'mayors' long-established in that region. There is a legacy of unhappy local people according to the authors, whose compensation ended up in others' pockets, but their frustrations have been suppressed, including by the PR machine (Green anybody?). Up to date techniques have prevented 'Nigerian actions'.
The whole thing is very much anti-oil however and it does tend to lapse into long rhetoric’s of the evils of the oil industry at times, this combined with the “whimsical” nature of the author to lapse into futurist poetry surprisingly often makes it something of a struggle at times. Overall though the pipeline route remains an engaging subject that shines through in the evocative locations and unique characters that these places have to offer, and the stories they themselves have to share.
If you like conspiracy theories, this is the book for you. If you want to read about the delivery of a huge industrial project that has been of some benefit to the poverty-stricken inhabitants of a forgotten part of Asia-Europe, buy another book.
One doesn't have to be a BP shareholder (as I am) or a paid-up member of the political ruling class Azerbaijan, Georgia or Turkey to regard this book with suspicion. No one would deny that some things went wrong with the $4bn BTC project or that BP and the host governments have their problems. But "The Oil Road" is so one-eyed it ends up weakening its own case.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?