Monday, March 17, 2008

Oil From Rockefeller to Iraq and Beyond

I just started reading this book called Oil From Rockefeller to Iraq and Beyond by Andy Stern. I though I post a summary of each chapter as I read them. So here we go with the first chapter.

Stern recognizes the 20th century as the century of going to war for oil. Government realizing that without oil they have to change their way of life, their economy will suffer, and they would be unable to defend their countries. The first oil quest was by Seneca Oil Company, which hired engineer Edwin Drake who later found oil in Pennsylvania. The big oil man was John Rockefeller who understood that he could make great profits by controlling the supply of oil. By 1875, ninety five percent of US refining capacity were in his hands. His company Standard Oil Company monopoly was broken when oil was found in other states and Supreme Court ordered his company to be split. In 1903, Royal Dutch and Shell created Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies in order to compete with Standard Oil Companies. At this time, Britain controlled India and Burma oil. Finally, Russia was exploring for oil also.

In the early 20th century, oil companies promoted the use of oil and oil based products. Stern indicates the turning point as when the British navy decided to switch from a coal to an oil powered navy. Britain could not switch to oil powered navy since it did not have a guarantee supply of oil. The solution was to open up Middle East to large scale exploitation, which made the United Kingdom a leading force in the development of the region.

1 comment:

J.T. Marsh said...

Nilou, if you have a strong interest in the history of oil, "The Prize" by Daniel Yergin is a must-read. While a bit dense, it is a fantastic book (Pulitzer Prize winner).