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Oil on the Brain: Adventures from the Pump…

Oil on the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline (2007)

by Lisa Margonelli

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Great book. Depressing as all hell, but one that everyone on earth ought to read. ( )
  BrianFannin | May 31, 2013 |
The author sets out to trace the oil we use backwards from the gas tank to the point of production. She visits refineries, oil drilling sites, and gas stations along the way, then makes her way overseas to visit oil producing countries in the Third World. A good introduction to the subject, though the author tends to be a little naive at times, and might find her enthusiasm about BP a bit tempered by recent experiences. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Apr 9, 2011 |
I have done much reading on the subject of oil and our society's seemingly insatiable desire for more of the stuff. This book does much to simplify the industry and at the same time make me shake my head in wonderment at the continuous collective hiding of our head in the sand in which our country indulges itself. We simply have to start doing something to curb our appetite. The recent economic crisis is only the latest manifestation of our oil dependency.

The author started out with her complaints about the price of gas at the pump and followed the product back to its source exploring the various explanations about why it costs so much. On the way she went to refineries and the NYMEX as well as to other countries. The NYMEX and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve turn out to be just as mysterious in their operations as does the governments of Nigeria and Iran. The author makes the connection between the modern petro-state and so many of the current instabilities in the world comprehensible and that is no mean feat.

This book is very readable and could provide valuable insights for the average reader. However, most American's don't want to see, hear, or read about anything that might make them feel bad about their love of SUV's and interfere with their current lifestyle. For that reason I suspect that this book has a limited audience. That is too bad as it is very illuminating. ( )
  benitastrnad | Oct 14, 2009 |
Lisa Margonelli has written a comprehensive account of the role petroleum plays in our lives, our economy, and our politics. Having worked in the petrochemical industry and being interested in world politics, I thought I was well-informed. Yet I learned something new in nearly every paragraph, often exclaiming and reading sections to anyone nearby.

Margonelli starts her journey at the local gas station, researching and directly observing how U.S. consumers interact with petroleum at the pump. She moves on to tankers that deliver the fuel and the refineries that supply it, then NYMEX, and finally to the sources of our petroleum around the world. Her travels take her from Venezuela to Africa and the Middle East and finally to China. It's a fascinating and troubling journey.

Says Mary Roach, the author of Stiff, on the cover, "If you drive a car, you must read this book, but please not at the same time." I would argue that, even if you don't drive a car, you must read this book. The politics of petroleum is touching every person on the planet, whether we know it or not. We should all be better informed. ( )
  nikitasamuelle | Jul 19, 2009 |
Failed to woo me into a state of entrenched anti-westernism, though not for lack of example or effort. Plenty here that's interesting, but I feel like a real expert in the oil industry could have told me twice as much, given me three times as many opinions, and made it all ten times easier to relate to. Margonelli's attempt to 'demystify' oil for the common man only makes it a bit more confusing, and a hell of a lot more 'Calipurnian,' than it actually needs to be. ( )
  lmichet | Nov 22, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385511450, Hardcover)

Oil on the Brain is a smart, surprisingly funny account of the oil industry—the people, economies, and pipelines that bring us petroleum, brilliantly illuminating a world we encounter every day.

Americans buy ten thousand gallons of gasoline a second, without giving it much of a thought. Where does all this gas come from? Lisa Margonelli’s desire to learn took her on a one-hundred thousand mile journey from her local gas station to oil fields half a world away. In search of the truth behind the myths, she wriggled her way into some of the most off-limits places on earth: the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the New York Mercantile Exchange’s crude oil market, oil fields from Venezuela, to Texas, to Chad, and even an Iranian oil platform where the United States fought a forgotten one-day battle.

In a story by turns surreal and alarming, Margonelli meets lonely workers on a Texas drilling rig, an oil analyst who almost gave birth on the NYMEX trading floor, Chadian villagers who are said to wander the oil fields in the guise of lions, a Nigerian warlord who changed the world price of oil with a single cell phone call, and Shanghai bureaucrats who dream of creating a new Detroit.

Deftly piecing together the mammoth economy of oil, Margonelli finds a series of stark warning signs for American drivers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Looks at the economics of the petroleum industry and traces how crude oil from fields around the world eventually becomes the gasoline for automobiles.

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