This blogger skimmed the ebook, “The Oil Road” by James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello, published in 2012. This is a series of vignettes of visits of the authors to territories where fossil fuels (namely, oil and natural gas) were or are being drilled for, collected or transported, where a disaster took place, and the issues surrounding the fossil fuels industry.
The authors traversed mostly Azerbaijan, Turkey and Soviet Georgia. They spoke with people in rural villages whose lives were disrupted by greedy corporations. In the mid-1990’s, a group of companies (including BP, Amoco, Lukoil of Russia, Ramco, Unocal, Pennzoil and State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic) formed a consortium to consolidate their power and protect their geopolitical and economic interests. Those interests would be to make the maximum amount of money; environment and unlucky peasants who happened to live in villages where oil pipelines were soon to be constructed be damned. The pipelining of natural gas involves “… intense lobbying, billions of dollars of loans, and the balance of political and economic power.” It was not uncommon to intentionally submit a lowball bid on a project so that “…US diplomacy ensured that the cost overruns on the [oil] pipeline [construction] were carried not by private oil companies, but by Turkish taxpayers.”
In the late 1800’s, oil was originally used in the form of kerosene in lamps, obsolescing whale blubber, distilled alcohol and tallow. Businesspeople found other increasingly profitable uses for it through the decades, due to political, technological and cultural forces, of course. A few powerful business families, such as the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds and the Nobels controlled the oil going into WW I. Spheres of influence shifted with the Russian Revolution and tribal, land and religious disputes, too.
Read the book to learn about: instances of companies’ irresponsiblity, companies’ weaseling out of trouble after serious incidents and destroying a way of life for rural, powerless peoples; numerous accidents waiting to happen; why governments of developed nations couldn’t let BP go bankrupt after its spring 2010 disaster; and who the major beneficiaries of the business are. Here’s a hint: “…profit generated mainly flows to London and New York… ultimate power drivers were in Washington, London and Brussels.”