Monday, July 09, 2012

Charting the love-hate relationship with big oil

If the oil companies had answers to the energy crisis, and in some cases maybe they do, would you believe them? Given that most of us grow up loathing big oil for a multitude of reasons ranging from environmental to monetary ones while filling up the gas tank, all thoughts put forward by energy companies become suspect.

Or as the author of the book – Why we hate the oil companies? Straight talk from an energy insider – asks, would you accept the fox’s plan for the hen coop? Written by none other than John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell, it examines what’s behind the energy companies' swagger or perceived swagger.

Having made the transition from being a mere consumer of gasoline to the president of a major oil company, Hofmeister attempts to feel the pulse of public sentiment which ranges from indifference to pure hatred of those who produce the crude stuff. Spread over 270 pages split by 14 chapters, this book does its best to offer a reasonably convincing insider’s account of the industry.

Along the way it dwells on how politicians and special interest groups use energy misinformation and disinformation to meet their own odds and ends in a high stakes game. Hofmeister founded the US Citizens for Affordable Energy; an American grassroots campaign aimed changing the way the US looks at energy and energy security.

So this book benefits from his thoughts on solving energy issues, offering targeted solutions on affordable and clean energy, environmental protection and sustained economic competitiveness. The tone is a surprisingly frank one and research is solid. It is also no corporate waffle from an oilman lest sceptics dismiss it as such without reading it.

The Oilholic believes it even throws up some pragmatic solutions which appear sound at least on paper. So while there is little not to like about the book, there is one glaring caveat. It is just way too American in its scope. Yours truly is happy to recommend this book to our friends across the pond in North America; but readers elsewhere while appreciating the narrative, may come to the same conclusion.

© Gaurav Sharma 2012. Photo: Front Cover – Why we hate the oil companies? Straight talk from an energy insider © Palgrave Macmillan

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