Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil
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The catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has brought new attention to the huge costs of our oil dependence. In this stunning and revealing book, Peter Maass examines the social, political, and environmental impact of petroleum on the countries that produce it.
Every unhappy oil-producing nation is unhappy in its own way, but all are touched by the “resource curse”—the power of oil to exacerbate existing problems and create new ones. Peter Maass presents a vivid portrait of the troubled world oil has created. From Saudi Arabia to Equatorial Guinea, from Venezuela to Iraq, the stories of rebels, royalty, middlemen, environmentalists, indigenous activists, and CEOs—all deftly and sensitively presented—come together in this startling and essential account of the consequences of our addiction to oil.
Pazzos stated. “No one in the government thought that this petroleum giant utilized second-rate technology in Ecuador, including the dumping of production waters and other contaminants in the environment. No one ever questioned the practices of Texaco, for the simple reason that during all this time [no one] had the necessary information to question and oppose the practices which were chosen by an American company that presumably operated in an ethical manner around the world.” By the 1980s, a
running out,” Robertson replies archly. “Ask ’em when there’s no heat in their homes and they’re cold. Ask ’em when their engines stop. Ask ’em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won’t want us to ask ’em. They’ll just want us to get it for ’em.” A month after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, President Bush made his case in a speech to Congress. The war would not be for oil but for the rule of law and the sanctity of human rights. Bush quoted from
world monetary reserves are tracked by computers rather than stored in warehouses filled with hundred-dollar bills from floor to ceiling. Muhanna was just doing his job, which in this case consisted of throwing rhetorical dust in my eyes. I responded by mentioning that outsiders remained unconvinced by the Saudis’ “trust us” stance, in light of the legendary cheating in OPEC and in the industry. I noted that Royal Dutch/Shell had just admitted that it had overstated its reserves by nearly 24
was a member of Aramco’s board as well as its management committee. He was one of the most respected oil experts in the world. After meeting me at the cavernous airport that serves Dhahran, he drove me in his luxury sedan to the regal yet, by Saudi standards, modestly sized villa that houses his private office. As we entered, he pointed to an armoire that displayed a dozen or so vials of black liquid. “These are samples from oil fields I discovered,” he announced. Upstairs, there were even more
case a cause for concern. This was not a theoretical issue, because Putin was at that moment cracking down on Russia’s wealthiest oil baron. In this story, there are no heroes or villains, just problems that few countries resolve. At the outset of 2003 Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the largest shareholder of Yukos and the wealthiest oilman in Russia—even richer than Alekperov. Unlike Alekperov, who could not respond quickly enough to the Kremlin’s wishes, Khodorkovsky had his own ideas.