Crude Book Reviews

The Oilholic has been reviewing crude books and others on Amazon since 2005. When this blog found a home in cyberspace, reviews of the ‘crude’ books among the titles read by this blogger started appearing here too. Here they are in descending order from date of review. (For all financial book reviews, including those of a 'non-crude' variety, please visit the Oilholic’s Amazon profile)

An Insider's Guide To Trading The Global Oil Market

By Simon Watkins

Reviewed – January 27, 2020

Should understanding the market, making calculated guesstimates on price direction and trading black gold tickle your fancy, be it via a position in the market or a spreadbet, then market commentator Simon Watkins' latest book – An Insider’s Guide To Trading The Global Oil Market – would be well worth your while.

For more click here. 

Jobs for Robots: Between Robocalypse and Robotopia

By Jason Schenker

Reviewed – Nov 26, 2017

The energy industry talks of connected plants, exploration and production firms talk of advanced robotics, refineries and downstream companies send drones out to monitor facilities and traders fret over algorithms replacing them. So is this ‘Robocalypse’ or ‘Robotopia’? Industry colleague and renowned economist Jason Schenker says mankind is somewhere in between, and has attempted to address the information gap via his book Jobs for robots: Between Robocalypse and Robotopia; a most impressive narrative summing up the tremendous opportunities as well as significant threats the future holds for us with a healthy infusion of pragmatism, analysis, wit and humour. For more click here.

Out of the desert: My journey from Nomadic bedouin to the heart of global oil

By Ali Al-Naimi

Reviewed Jan 13, 2017

For over two decades, every word Ali Al-Naimi uttered was lapped up by the oil market. It wouldn’t be otherwise, if you were the oil minister, as he once was, of OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia between August 1995 and May 2016. So when Al-Naimi’s memoir – Out of the Desert: My Journey from Nomadic Bedouin to the Heart of Global Oil – appeared on the horizon barely a few months into his retirement, global headlines were all but guaranteed, especially at a time of extreme volatility and a once in a generation market dynamic shift in the global crude world. For more click here.

Fuel Hedging and Risk Management  

By Simo Mohamed Dafir and Vishnu N. Gajjala

Reviewed Sep 9, 2016

The last decade has seen extreme volatility with unprecedented price swings. Volatility makes hedging crucial for fuel consuming companies. Two experts from financial consulting firm Volguard – Simo Mohamed Dafir and Vishu N. Gajjala – have made a brilliant attempt to tackle subject via their book Fuel Hedging and Risk Management published under the current batch of the Wiley Finance series. For more click here.

Oil and American Identity 

By Sebastian Herbstreuth

Reviewed Sep 3, 2016

The intertwining of US foreign policy with the country’s energy security has been a matter of public discourse for decades. The connection only witnessed a dilution of sorts roughly six years ago when the US shale bonanza started easing the economy’s reliance on oil imports in meaningful volumes. As shale’s contribution to US energy security becomes a hot topic, author Sebastian Herbstreuth refreshingly reframes the country’s ‘energy dependency’ as a cultural discourse via his latest book – ‘Oil and American Identity’. For more click here.  

Recession Proof: How to Survive and Thrive in an Economic Downturn

By Jason Schenker 

Reviewed May 8, 2016

Does the thought of a recession spook you? Are memories of the last economic downturn in the wake of the US subprime mortgage crisis fairly raw? It might well be hard to avoid an economic downturn, but your chances of escaping unscathed and managing the situation depend on your tenacity and desire to rethink life as you know it, according to economist Jason Schenker. For more click here

Upstream Petroleum: Fiscal and Valuation Modeling

By Ken Kasriel & David Wood

Reviewed – Aug 9, 2015

In the complex arena of upstream fiscal design, both budding petroleum economists and established ones could do with all the help they can get. Ken Kasriel and David Wood’s book Upstream Petroleum: Fiscal and Valuation Modeling in Excel goes a long way towards doing just that, and quite comprehensively too. For more click here. 

The Energy World is Flat

By Daniel Lacalle & Diego Parrilla 

Reviewed – Apr 16, 2015 

That we're in the midst of a profound change in the energy markets in unquestionable. Fossil fuels, to the annoyance of some, remain the medium of choice. what does it all mean for the wider energy spectrum, where from here and what are the stakes? Authors and industry experts Daniel Lacalle and Diego Parrilla have attempted to tackle the very questions in their latest work. For more click here.

Oil, Democracy and Development in Africa

By John R. Heilbrunn

Reviewed – Dec 20, 2014

Is the discovery of crude oil a blessing or curse for emerging economies? Does it further or hinder democracy and development? Is an oil rich nation’s currency destined to suffer from Dutch Disease? These are profound questions and nowhere do they need to be answered more than in the continent of Africa. In an attempt to address the subject, author John Heilbrunn tackles the socioeconomic and political impact of oil in sub-Saharan Africa head-on via his new book. For more click here.

Ownership and Control of Oil

By Bianca Sarbu 

Reviewed – Dec 9, 2014 

Policymaking choices of oil producers could have a massive bearing on the future direction of their economies and overall management of national oil wealth. Every national market’s direction is ultimately shaped by the level of control its government wishes to have over domestic exploration and production. Factoring in developments and case studies till date, academic Bianca Sarbu delves into the key issue of state influence in her book Ownership and Control of Oil published by Routledge. For more click here.

Marketing Big Oil

By Mark L. Robinson 

Reviewed – Dec 8, 2014

Environmental disasters and subsequent public relations fiascos in wake of incidents such as Exxon Valdez and BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill have only reinforced negative perceptions about ‘Big Oil’ in the minds of many. It all dates way back to Standard Oil, a company often castigated for its practices in the last century, writes Mark Robinson, professor of marketing at Virginia International University, in his recent work Marketing Big Oil published by Palgrave Pivot. For more click here.

Putin and the Oligarch

By Richard Sakwa

Reviewed – Dec 5, 2014

In order to understand Russia's tumultuous present, a past occurrence – the downfall of Yukos and its former chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky – would be a good starting point. In his latest work published by I.B. Tauris, academic Richard Sakwa not only describes the episode in some detail but also contextualises power struggles and insecurities that shaped one of the most controversial episodes in contemporary Russia. For more click here.

Energy Trading and Risk Management

By Iris Marie Mack  

Reviewed – Nov 18, 2014

In the challenging world of energy trading, fortune favours the prepared. Whether one is brave enough (or not) comes second and not having a clear strategy would be borderline foolishness. Given such a backdrop, almost inevitably, there are resources aplenty targeting those who feel the need to be better informed and equipped. Among the latest reference sources, industry veteran and academic Dr Iris Marie Mack’s book Energy Trading and Risk Management published by Wiley is a pretty compelling one. For more click here.

Geopolitics: A very short introduction

By Klaus Dodds

Reviewed – Nov 14, 2014

Make no mistake; while the deployment of geopolitical sentiment in betting on the oil price has always been open to debate, the connection between the oil industry and geopolitics is undeniable. And should you need a crash course, academic Klaus Dodds has the answer. In his contribution about geopolitics for Oxford University Press’ A Very Short Introduction series, Dodds breezes you through the subject via a concise book of just under 160 pages, split into six chapters. For more click here.

Spain: What everyone needs to know

By William Chislett

Reviewed – May 18, 2014

No one can argue that Spain is among the big beasts of the euro zone, a country boasting high profile companies from banking to oil and gas. However, all is not well with this beast. The financial crisis and subsequent property market crash have taken their toll. At present, the country has one of the highest unemployment rates in the euro zone, rising public debt and low consumer confidence. To understand Spain's current economic malaise, one must contextualise the past – from recent politics to socioeconomics issues, from past histories to recent discontent. Veteran journalist William Chislett's brilliantly concise book on the country helps you do just that. For more click here.

Baroque Tomorrow

By Jack Michalowski

Reviewed – Dec 16, 2013

The US sub-prime crisis became a global financial malaise that nearly took the entire system down. In the years hence, several books have been written about the when, where, why and how; even what lead to the crisis and the inequity of it all has been dealt with. However, via his book Baroque Tomorrow, Jack Michalowski has conducted a rather novel examination – not just of the crisis alone, but also of our economic health either side of it, the proliferation of international finance and consumer driven innovations. For more click here. 

Hell's Half Acre

By David Finch

Reviewed – Oct 20, 2013

A quaint town called Turner Valley in Alberta, Canada may not mean much to the current crop of oil and gas industry observers. However, it has a special place in British history as well as that of the industry itself. Back in 1914, the town acquired the status of Western Canada's oil hub and had the country's first commercial oilfield which, for a while, was the largest oil and gas production base in the entire British Empire as it stood then. Hell’s Half Acre by David Finch is a meticulously researched and entertaining tale of the townsfolk of Turner Valley, and those who came from further afield to make it all happen back in the day. For more click here.

Reconstructing Project Management

By Peter W.G. Morris

Reviewed – Oct 1, 2013

Projects in all sectors of the economy, large or small, need careful planning and consideration. Over the years, project management has evolved considerably to become a crucial standalone genre of management studies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, literature on the subject has mushroomed. Industry veteran and UCL academic Peter Morris has lent his thoughts via Reconstructing Project Management, which though intentioned as an academic text - is not bland and dry like some other titles vying with it for attention. For more click here.

Campbell's Atlas of Oil and Gas Depletion

By Colin J. Campbell

Reviewed – May 24, 2013

Any analysis of oil and gas depletion is always tricky and often coloured by opposing arguments, disinformation, politics, tangential debates about the resource curse hypothesis and extractive techniques. Given this backdrop, veteran industry analyst Colin Campbell’s attempt to tackle the subject via his Atlas of Oil and Gas Depletion, currently in its second edition, is nothing short of historic. For more click here.

Oil and World Power

By Peter R. Odell

Reviewed – Apr 30, 2013

Throughout his illustrious career, academic Peter Randon Odell enriched the available oil and gas market commentary and analysis of his time, writing close to 20 books and numerous research papers. In 1970, Odell wrote arguably one of his most authoritative works on the subject – Oil and World Power. He went on to update and revise it no less than eight times with the last imprint reaching bookshelves in 1986. After over two decades, the old master’s insight is available once again via a Routledge reprint. For more click here.

Wheel of Fortune: The Batte for Oil and Power in Russia

By Thane Gustafson

Reviewed – Apr 24, 2013

Amidst a cacophony of mediocre analysis on Russia, academic Thane Gustafson’s splendid work – Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia – not only breaks the mould but smashes it to pieces. This weighty, arduously researched book does justice to the art of scrutiny when it comes to examining this complex oil and gas exporting jurisdiction; a rival of Saudi Arabia for the position of the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil. For more click here.

Winner Take All

By Dambisa Moyo

Reviewed – Jan 18, 2013
We constantly debate the world’s finite and fast depleting natural resources; that everything from fossil fuel to farmable acreage is in short supply. Some often take the line that in a quest for mineral wealth, it would be a fight to the death. Others, like academic Dambisa Moyo take a more pragmatic line on resource scarcity and rationally analyse what is at stake as she has done in her latest book. For more click here.

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

By Steve Coll

Reviewed – Dec 20, 2012

In 1999, the merger of Exxon and Mobil created what could be described as an oil & gas industry behemoth and, using some financial metrics, perhaps also one of the most profitable among the international “supermajors”. Despite being a global entity, for many people ExxonMobil remains an enigma. For Pulitzer Prize winning author Steve Coll, there is more to it than meets the eye when it comes to ExxonMobil and its financial performance which is more durable than others in the Fortune 500 list. For more click here.

The Oil Traders' Word(s): Oil Trading Jargon

By Stefan Van Woenzel

Reviewed – Nov 12, 2012

Perhaps you are familiar with terms such as contango, backwardation or crack spreads – as some readers would be. But can you confidently define what a PIONA test is? Or for that matter what is a No. 6 Fueloil? Or maybe what ‘demulsibility’ implies to in a crude context or what are ‘charter parties’? If you are stumped or curious or unsure or perhaps all three, then – The Oil Traders’ Word(s) – a brilliant compendium of ‘crude’ knowledge containing oil traders’ expressions, trading floor jargon, measurements, metrics and terms put together by Statoil executive Stefan Van Woenzel is just the tonic! For more click here.

Minerals and Mining: A Practical Global Guide

Consulting Editor: Per Vestergaard Pedersen

Reviewed – Sep 4, 2012

Minerals and Mining: A Practical Global Guide – not only seeks to address an information gap in sector but also hopes to mitigate the information overload in this day and age. This succinct handy guide of just under 300 pages dwells on key legal and commercial concerns of the minerals and mining world. Various aspects of the subject at hand are examined by industry professionals via 19 detailed chapters. For more click here.

Why we hate the oil companies?

By John Hofmeister

Reviewed – Jul 9, 2012

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? For more click here.

Liquefied Natural Gas: The Law & Business of LNG

Consulting Editor: Paul Griffin

Reviewed – Mar 2, 2012

The LNG business has evolved more over the last ten years than it ever did over the preceding five decades. From a point in time in history when energy majors considered finding gas a disappointment during exploration and production drives to the present multijurisdictional nature of the LNG business; the transformation has been truly unique. Inevitably, disputes arise and many end up in court. Currently, in its second edition, the book Liquefied Natural Gas: The Law and Business of LNG, a compendium of thoughts from authors with a legal background, attempts to address the information appetite for legal, regulatory, political and practical elements of the LNG chain. For more click here.

The Quest

By Daniel Yergin

Reviewed – Nov 28, 2011

The current disruption of the geostrategic balance that had underpinned the Middle East for decades is bound to cause ripples in energy markets. But don't these recent developments only add to scares of the past. In his latest work 'The Quest', a follow-up to his earlier work 'The Prize', author Daniel Yergin notes that in a world where fossil fuels still account for more than 80% of the world's energy, crises underscore a fundamental reality - how important energy is to the world. For more click here.

Oil's Endless Bid

By Dan Dicker

Reviewed – Nov 5, 2011

Crude oil price should reflect a simple supply-demand equation, but it rarely does in the world of oil index funds, ETFs and loose foresight. Add to the mix an uncertain geopolitical climate and what you get is extreme market volatility. Especially since 2005, there have been record highs, followed by record lows and then yet another spike. Even at times of ample surpluses, sometimes the WTI ticker is still seen trading at a premium defying conventional trading wisdom. The cause, according to Dan Dicker, author of the book Oil’s Endless Bid, is the rampant "assetization" of oil. For more click here.

Oil is not a Curse

By Pauline Jones Luong and Erika Weinthal

Reviewed – Oct 16, 2011

The resource curse hypothesis has its detractors and supporters in equal measure. The vanguard of many a commodities bubble – crude oil – often leads the discussion on the subject as the ‘resource’ in question. The title of a book, the first edition of which was published last year, by two academics Pauline Jones Luong and Erika Weinthal – Oil is Not a Curse – simply gives away which side of the argument they are on. For more click here.

Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond

By Christopher M. Davidson

Reviewed – Sep 30, 2011

While Dubai often hogs the limelight, the principal emirate in the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi which holds over 8 per cent of the world’s oil reserves. It is a key regional player and an economic power in its own right, yet few written works have examined its culture, politics, influence and economic prowess on a standalone basis. Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond is author Christopher Davidson's commendable attempt at addressing the perceived information gap. For more click here.

Spills and Spin: The Inside Story of BP

By Tom Bergin

Reviewed – Sep 2, 2011

A corporate scandal, disaster or an implosion always creates an appetite for literature on the subject. Amid a cacophony of books – some hurried, some scrambled and some downright rubbish – you often have to wait for a book that is the real deal. I am delighted to say that if BP, its culture, the mother of all oil spills and its underlying causes are of interest to you then Reuters correspondent Tom Bergin’s book – Spills and Spin: The Inside Story of BP – is the real deal and was well worth the wait. For more click here.

Oil on Water: Tankers, Pirates and the Rise of China

By Paul French & Sam Chambers

Reviewed – Aug 23, 2011

Oil will continue to power global economies in the main for decades in the absence of a viable alternative taking off meaningfully, but have you given thought to how the crude stuff is moved globally. Odds-on bet would be that an oil tanker springs to mind - that bulky out of sight and out of mind metal behemoth crucial to the movement of oil around the globe. In a fascinating book - Oil on Water by Paul French and Sam Chambers, the reader gets an insight into the tanker transport aspect of the crude supply chain. For more click here.

Oil Policies, Oil Myths: Observations of an OPEC Insider

By Fadhil J. Chalabi

Reviewed – June 13, 2011

Whether you are an observer, derider or admirer of OPEC and wish to know more, I feel there is no better place to start than Dr. Fadhil Chalabi's latest book on the cartel and his experiences there. If there is any such thing as a ringside view of the wheeling and dealing at OPEC HQ, then Dr. Chalabi more than anyone else had that view. For more click here.


A Swamp Full of Dollars

By Michael Peel

Reviewed – Oct 19, 2010

Some say the history of crude oil extraction has a dark and seedy side; most say nowhere is it more glaringly visible than in Nigeria - a confused ex-colonial outpost with a complex ethnic and tribal mix turned into a unified nation and given its independence by the British some five decades ago. In this candid book, Michael Peel, a former FT journalist who spent many-a-year in Nigeria, presents a warts n' all account of this most chaotic and often fascinating of African countries shaped by oil, driven by oil and in more ways than one - held to ransom by oil. For more click here.

Oil Panic and the Global Crisis: Predictions and Myths

By Steven M. Gorelick

Reviewed – Sept 23, 2010

Central question on everyone's mind, given the importance of crude oil in our lives is - are we running out of the crude stuff? No one discounts the fact that oil is a non-renewable and finite hydrocarbon, but the positions people take on either side of the peak oil hypothesis evoke fierce emotions. The author of this book - Steven M. Gorelick - examines both sides of the argument and allied topics on the subject at length. For more click here.

Seizing Power: The Grab for Global Oil Wealth

By Robert Slater

Reviewed – Aug 25, 2010

I recently stumbled upon a brilliantly coined term – “petroaggressors” – courtesy of author and journalist Robert Slater. After all, little else can be said of Iran, Venezuela, Russia and others who are seeking to alter the energy security hegemony from the developed world in favour of the Third world. In his latest book – Seizing Power: the global grab for oil wealth – Slater notes that the ranks of petroaggressors are flanked by countries such as India and China who are desperate to secure the supply of crude oil with very few scruples to fuel their respective economic growth. For more click here.

Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil

By Peter Maass

Reviewed – Jan 5, 2010

Arguments that oil damages countries it comes from have been with us for some time now. Many market commentators believe that discovery and extraction of crude oil, especially in the case of developing economies exporting the stuff, has failed to provide the even spread of prosperity that it should for these nations. On the contrary, oil has stirred up troubles and conflicts. In this book, the author Peter Maass opines interestingly that the commodity is itself the real villain here. For more click here.

The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes

By Bryan Burrough

Reviewed – Apr 19, 2009

Before Oil became near synonymous with massive Middle Eastern reserves in general and Saudi Arabia in particular, the American state of Texas was the centre of the world's oil industry. At heart of the Texan oil drive were Wildcatters, or freelance oil producers, who often lived tough poverty stricken lives and never struck black gold in meaningful volumes. But many did, through instinct, ingenuity, perseverance or pure good luck. Among them nearly half a dozen became the world's richest men. This brilliant book by Bryan Burrough is their tale - of their family, wealth, resourcefulness, canniness, excesses, egos and idiosyncrasies. For more click here.

The Bin Ladens: Oil, Money, Terrorism and the Secret Saudi World

By Steve Coll

Reviewed – Apr 16, 2009

The Bin Laden clan, who gave the world its most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden, live their lives under a shroud of secrecy in Saudi Arabia - one of the most closeted societies on the planet which is open to little scrutiny from beyond its borders. Yet the Bin Ladens, most notably their Saudi Bin Laden Group, props up with regularity investing around the World from this closeted hub. This book by the Pulitzer winning journalist Steve Coll, goes a considerable distance in addressing the information gap about this secretive family. For more click here.

The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower

By Robert Baer

Reviewed – Sept 28, 2008

After having read this book I feel Robert Baer is fast acquiring the status of a pre-eminent geopolitical commentator of our times. This is his third non-fiction book and I feel it's as relevant and as brilliant as his previous two. Baer, a former CIA operative who speaks fluent Arabic and Persian and has worked in some of the most inhospitable places on earth, is indeed the real deal and here his subject is a resurgent Iran. For more click here.

The Smartest Guys in the Room

By Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind

Reviewed – Sept 22, 2008

As someone from the media industry, when the Enron scandal was among us, I noted with unhinged irony how books, literature and exposés on the failed giant were simply mushrooming as the subject itself was in ruins. I wondered if there would ever be a book we could describe as the complete package. I am positively delighted to observe that this book is it. For more click here

What went wrong at Enron

By Peter C. Fusaro

Reviewed – Sept 22, 2008

Not every good book needs to bank on being a sensational masterpiece. Details can indeed be provided by making the narrative a little bit more engaging. That is where the authors of this book have failed in their effort to chalk out what happened at Enron for our benefit. For more click here.

Enron: The Anatomy of Greed

By Brian Cruver

Reviewed – Sept 22, 2008

By the time the Enron bankruptcy first exploded on the world stage, I had already been keenly following its wheeling, dealing and failed adventures (for e.g. the Dhabol Power project in India) while working in the media industry. On reading this book, alongside others that hit the bookshops following the company's collapse, I am inclined to say this one doesn't cut it for me at all. For more click here.

The Next Big Investment Boom

By Mark Shipman

Reviewed – Sept 22, 2008

I have had the pleasure of meeting the author Mark Shipman in a journalistic capacity and I must say he does not come across as the sort of chap who sits it out on the fence when it comes to trading strategies or speaking his mind on investing. This is mirrored in his engaging commentary in the financial press as well as this very readable book about investing in commodities. For more click here.

Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude

By Robert Baer

Reviewed – Sept 22, 2008

Akin to Robert Baer's other bestselling work See No Evil, this book is equally insightful and gripping. The subject matter for this work of his, is the complicated, often worrying relationship between successive U.S. administrations, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and its ruling family the house of Al Sa'ud. For more click here.

See No Evil

By Robert Baer

Reviewed – May 27, 2007

This is a highly readable account by Robert Baer, a former CIA agent who was on the frontline of the US agency, instituted to protect its citizens. As a journalist myself, very rarely have I come across a non-fiction title which has generated such an interest in academia, press, citizenry of the world (not just US readers) and has even inspired a movie since it was first published in 2002. The reason, in my opinion is that Baer has tried to tell (and sell) it like it is. For more click here.

Addicted to Oil: America's Relentless Drive for Energy Security

By Ian Rutledge

Reviewed  - July 25, 2005

In the run-up to the second Gulf war and presently in the wake of post war hostilities in Iraq, millions of people remain by and large convinced that it was a war fought for oil despite denials from Bush and Blair governments - two main architects of the event. In his book Addicted to Oil: America's relentless drive for energy security, energy economist Ian Rutledge argues that the invasion of Iraq was indeed for the oil, although not for the reasons usually attributed to this 'oil theory' by its opponents. For more click here.