The reader will learn a lot

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plappen's review of Ken Silverstein, The Secret World of Oil

★★★★★

“The reader will learn a lot”

Written on: 13/12/2014 by plappen (120 reviews written)

The Secret World of Oil, Ken Silverstein, 2014, ISBN 9781781681374

This book provides a peek behind the curtain at the business part of the oil industry, still a major part of the world's economy.

If an oil company wants to start drilling in a "new" country, like Equatorial Guinea, or somewhere in Central Asia, all they have to do is go to the president or Prime Minister, buy an oil lease, and start drilling, right? Wrong; there are other officials who need to be consulted, and compensated, first (American law forbids bribery, but American oil companies know that it's part of the cost of doing business). That is why "fixers" are so important. They know the local political landscape, or they have connections to the right officials. They also know how much the company should pay in "rebates" or "commissions."

Your father is the leader of some small country, with lots of oil reserves (the national treasury is treated like your own personal bank account). Your biggest decision is what glittering residence will you visit, your Malibu mansion, your Manhattan penthouse, or your villa on the French Riviera. Also, which of your dozen luxury cars will you bring with you?

There are a number of ex-politicians who travel the world making speeches about oil. Former British Prime Minister traveled to Azerbaijan where he received $150,000 for a speech lasting less than half an hour. In it, he said nice things about President Aliyev, whose human rights record is pretty horrible.

Neil Bush, part of the Bush family, has a bad record in the oil business. His companies don't just fail; they tend to crash and burn. But the Bush name is enough for foreign companies and governments to pay him tens of thousands of dollars for introductions.

This is a very interesting look at the oil industry. The author actually traveled the world, meeting the people portrayed in this book. The reader will learn a lot, and it is very much worth reading.

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