counter create hit Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil

Availability: Ready to download

Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadn’t seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude oil skyrocketing and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the nineteenth-century scramble for colonization th Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadn’t seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude oil skyrocketing and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the nineteenth-century scramble for colonization there. Already the United States imports more of its oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia, and China, too, looks to the continent for its energy security. What does this giddy new oil boom mean—for America, for the world, for Africans themselves? To find out, John Ghazvinian traveled through twelve African countries—from Sudan to Congo to Angola—talking to warlords, industry executives, bandits, activists, priests, missionaries, oil-rig workers, scientists, and ordinary people whose lives have been transformed—not necessarily for the better—by the riches beneath their feet. The result is a high-octane narrative that reveals the challenges, obstacles, reasons for despair, and reasons for hope emerging from the world’s newest energy hot spot.


Compare
Ads Banner

Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadn’t seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude oil skyrocketing and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the nineteenth-century scramble for colonization th Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadn’t seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude oil skyrocketing and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the nineteenth-century scramble for colonization there. Already the United States imports more of its oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia, and China, too, looks to the continent for its energy security. What does this giddy new oil boom mean—for America, for the world, for Africans themselves? To find out, John Ghazvinian traveled through twelve African countries—from Sudan to Congo to Angola—talking to warlords, industry executives, bandits, activists, priests, missionaries, oil-rig workers, scientists, and ordinary people whose lives have been transformed—not necessarily for the better—by the riches beneath their feet. The result is a high-octane narrative that reveals the challenges, obstacles, reasons for despair, and reasons for hope emerging from the world’s newest energy hot spot.

30 review for Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil

  1. 5 out of 5

    AC

    A fascinating read on the politics of oil and Africa -- part travel log, part reportage -- a really great book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Though there is somewhat too much of the breathless and death-defying journalistic adventure, this is a worthwhile critical narrative covering recent conditions surrounding petroleum production in Africa. Ghazvinian traveled widely throughout Africa, and his account is particularly valuable for revealing the character of private mercenaries, authoritarian surveillance, and corporate suppression of petroleum production activities. MPRI and Executive Outcomes among others appear often in this book Though there is somewhat too much of the breathless and death-defying journalistic adventure, this is a worthwhile critical narrative covering recent conditions surrounding petroleum production in Africa. Ghazvinian traveled widely throughout Africa, and his account is particularly valuable for revealing the character of private mercenaries, authoritarian surveillance, and corporate suppression of petroleum production activities. MPRI and Executive Outcomes among others appear often in this book, for example, as private security contractors earning profits by protecting corporations and sustaining authoritarian rule. Coverage of AFRICOM and U.S. national security is a glaring weakness of this book, given the clear value of petroleum to powerful actors from West and East. Ghazvinian (p. 238) dismisses U.S. military involvement in EUCOM, a precursor and founder of AFRICOM, in the following manner: "Those inclined to view U.S. military activity as inherently suspicious have drawn from EUCOM's activities an overarching narrative of American imperialism and big sticks, but this is giving in to a cynical and conspiratorial view of the world." Strong opposing views of AFRICOM exist, including those seen on http://africomwatch.blogspot.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Since I am about to teach African politics in the fall, I have been reviewing the many books on the exploitation of oil resources in Africa. This is a quick-read overview, and I won't assign it as required, but it is a good intro to the issue of how the search for exploitable oil in unprotected states in Africa is driving foreign policies of big states.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim Martin

    _Untapped_ by John Ghazvinian is a riveting in-depth look at the rising importance of African oil. In recent years formerly poor countries, of little importance in the global economy, were suddenly awash in oil money (one, Equatorial Guinea used to be of so little importance to the U.S. that the American embassy had been closed; now it was about to reopen). The U.S. was soon expected to get as much as 25% of its imported oil from sub-Saharan Africa and China was becoming increasingly reliant on _Untapped_ by John Ghazvinian is a riveting in-depth look at the rising importance of African oil. In recent years formerly poor countries, of little importance in the global economy, were suddenly awash in oil money (one, Equatorial Guinea used to be of so little importance to the U.S. that the American embassy had been closed; now it was about to reopen). The U.S. was soon expected to get as much as 25% of its imported oil from sub-Saharan Africa and China was becoming increasingly reliant on African crude. Ghazvinian traveled through twelve African countries to discover the reasons behind the boom and what this means for Africa and the world. So why is African oil booming? Some experts believe that at best Africa only has 10% of the world's proven oil resources, so why the many billions of dollars spent on investment there? Much African oil (particularly offshore oil in the Gulf of Guinea, the 90-degree bend in the west coast of Africa) is of high quality, crude that is "light" (viscous) and "sweet" (low in sulfur), making it cheaper to refine than Middle Eastern crude. Not only is it cheaper to refine, it is less environmental costly to refine. African crude is also easier and cheaper to transport. Most of Africa is surrounded by water, which cuts transport-related risks and costs; indeed offshore oil from the Gulf of Guinea is already well-positioned for quick and safe transport to major markets. Little need for any expensive, politically-difficult to negotiate, and vulnerable pipelines such as what are needed to bring Caspian crude to market. In the few cases were pipelines are needed they often only have to run through only one or maybe two countries. Another reason for the attractiveness of Africa is that African nations generally present a more favorable contractual environment for oil companies to operate in. Unlike in Middle Eastern nations where state-owned oil companies often have a monopoly on oil exploration, production, and distribution, most sub-Saharan African nations operate on production-sharing agreements (or PSAs), an arrangement in which foreign oil companies are awarded licenses, assume all up-front costs for exploration and production, and share the revenues with the nation in question only after initial costs have been recouped. Yet another reason is that with the exception of Nigeria (though others may soon join), sub-Saharan African nations were not members of OPEC (and thus not subject to their strict limits on oil output). The "most attractive of all the attributes of Africa's oil boom" has been that most new oil discoveries have been made in deepwater reserves, many miles from populated land (or indeed land at all), meaning that they are pretty much isolated from the dangers of civil war, insurrection, sabotage, or banditry (an increasing problem for oil production from the Niger Delta in Nigeria, which the author covers in depth, revealing such innovative crimes as "illegal bunkering," "local bunkering," and "trucking"). A dominant theme of the book is just what this oil will mean for Africa. Many scholars and humanitarian activists view the oil boom not as blessing but rather a curse. Dubbed the "paradox of plenty" or the "resource curse," time and again throughout the world where oil has been discovered in a developing country that country has seen its standard of living decline and its people suffer in comparison to its non-oil endowed neighbors (their economies generally growing four times faster than oil-generating countries). Though at first an "oil curse" seems counterintuitive, the author presented a well-argued case for its existence. Though the discovery of oil can bring about political and military conflict (such as exacerbating ethnic tensions in the Niger Delta), by and large the problem of oil is one of economic degradation. Ghazvinian cited an example from economics labeled the "Dutch disease," a term coined by the _Economist_ in 1977 to describe the collapse of the Dutch manufacturing sector after the discovery of Dutch natural gas in the 1960s. Basically, when a country starts to export a valuable natural commodity to the international market, it finds itself flooded in foreign currency. This glut artificially inflates the value of that nation's own currency, making imported products suddenly cheaper (which are also often perceived to be of better quality). Local producers (in Africa often this means local farmers) find that fewer people buy their products, so they abandon rural areas to flock to cities, creating a mass urban migration that devastates a country's traditional farms and small cottage industries. Of course, with this collapse, those in the city becoming increasingly reliant on imported foreign goods, something that is unfortunately out of reach to the new urban arrivals; a country that was once a net exporter of food often becomes a net importer of food. If and when the oil runs out, a nation's currency quickly depreciates, meaning its people are no longer able to buy now-expensive foreign imports and there is now no longer any local industry to speak of to fall back on. An additional danger for oil producers is the development of a "rentier state." Rentier states are countries in which most if not all of the state's income comes from some form of economic rent (in this case a percentage of oil revenues). Such nations develop governments that in essence act like wealthy landlords, content to sit back and collect income from foreign corporations, divorcing the government and its management of the economy from the daily needs and activities of the people. Politicians no longer have any reasons to encourage industry and the government is no longer reliant on the economic productivity of its citizens but rather itself becomes instead a source of wealth. The state becomes an "allocation state," in which the government is seen as a big "sugar daddy," a source of free money. Where citizens pay taxes, they care about corruption and cronyism, while in a rentier state they view public funds as something open to all (often the elites, who make billions disappear).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Clearly I read this a few years too late. Though it's no doubt outdated, I still feel like "the more things change, the more they stay the same." This certainly gave me an immense amount of insight into oil drilling, on land and off shore, as well as international relations with Europe, the United States, Asia, and African nations.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    logically details country by country and the influence of oil, lots of detail. The book was published in 2007. I would really like to have the author go to the same countries now and update his research.It has been 12 years.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This is a very interesting, thorough book about the recent oil boom in West Africa. Obviously not for everyone, but I learned a lot about the region, including the colonial origins (I was woefully ignorant of these) of the various countries, extent of both onshore and offshore development, the basics of several civil wars, ethnic struggles, along with the various issues (Dutch disease, theft, allocation of royalties, etc.) that arise when undeveloped countries strike it rich. The author is, in m This is a very interesting, thorough book about the recent oil boom in West Africa. Obviously not for everyone, but I learned a lot about the region, including the colonial origins (I was woefully ignorant of these) of the various countries, extent of both onshore and offshore development, the basics of several civil wars, ethnic struggles, along with the various issues (Dutch disease, theft, allocation of royalties, etc.) that arise when undeveloped countries strike it rich. The author is, in my view, a bit too critical of the major oil companies, as their ability to support indigenous development is constrained by the host governments, and doesn't completely understand economics, such as putting "commercially viable" in quotation marks and talking the source of a given country's imports (not especially relevant for a fungible, global commodity), but he gives good explanations of Dutch disease, the concept of resource curse, etc., so I wasn't too frustrated. I have to say, I didn't walk away terribly optimistic about the prospects for oil-driven development of Africa. Things to remember: most Angolan oil is produced offshore Cambinda, which is actually not adjacent to the rest of the country but between the two Congos. Most Nigerian oil is produced onshore, with development just starting offshore (as of this writing, at least) in 2007.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Wow! "Curse of oil" is right. I had no idea some of the countries visited by the author even had oil because they are such poor nations. Now I understand why many of these countries are so poor. The only thing missing was the authors ideas about alternative ways to meet our energy needs but then again, that wasn't the point of this book. I still can't find a good argument to applaud the business big oil companies do in these oil rich poor countries. I liked the point the author made about how ma Wow! "Curse of oil" is right. I had no idea some of the countries visited by the author even had oil because they are such poor nations. Now I understand why many of these countries are so poor. The only thing missing was the authors ideas about alternative ways to meet our energy needs but then again, that wasn't the point of this book. I still can't find a good argument to applaud the business big oil companies do in these oil rich poor countries. I liked the point the author made about how many NGOs and activists argue that oil companies have the power to influence government policy (like community development, better schools, etc.) but the oil industry feels the governments will force them out of their countries (and then China can just move right in and take their place) if they meddle too much in the local development problems. It just sounds like an easy out for the oil industry, allowing them to say, "hey, our hands are tied so we will just continue to shit on these local communities." One last thing...who would have guest that Luanda is the most expensive city in the world? Crazy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    This book is a great introduction to what is happening with oil in Africa. Chapters are divided up into countries which is a great way to structure the book. The author has travelled to each country himself and talks about what life is like there in addition to the interviews he has with people in the oil Industry. As someone who was massively interested in learning about how the oil industry differed from country to country this was a sensational book. The in depth accounts Ghazvinian gives abou This book is a great introduction to what is happening with oil in Africa. Chapters are divided up into countries which is a great way to structure the book. The author has travelled to each country himself and talks about what life is like there in addition to the interviews he has with people in the oil Industry. As someone who was massively interested in learning about how the oil industry differed from country to country this was a sensational book. The in depth accounts Ghazvinian gives about being in Angola, Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and more were sensational. The only downside that I was able to see was that the history of the conflicts in the countries really tended to drag on at times. In what could have been done in 2-4 pages, for example, for a country like Nigeria the author takes up around 20 pages on the topic.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zaynäb Book Minimalist

    Part travelogue, part frontline political reporting (my two fav subjects), UNTAPPED is an important book on a pressing subject. Now more than ever the world is coming to rely on Africa's oil to quench its insatiable thirst for energy but only few of us have actually taken the trouble to consider the disturbing implications of this for Africa itself. I loved how Mr John Ghazvinian (who turned out to be from Iran when I reasearched bout him), used his gift to transform statistics into informative Part travelogue, part frontline political reporting (my two fav subjects), UNTAPPED is an important book on a pressing subject. Now more than ever the world is coming to rely on Africa's oil to quench its insatiable thirst for energy but only few of us have actually taken the trouble to consider the disturbing implications of this for Africa itself. I loved how Mr John Ghazvinian (who turned out to be from Iran when I reasearched bout him), used his gift to transform statistics into informative and entertaining sketches and I totally relate to his visit to Bayelsa especially and other African countries. Now the question is, should we begin to take the phenomenon "curse of oil" seriously as an hydra headed monster or should we just blame the greedy leaders for Nigeria's misfortune?

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    I confess I approached this book with only a cursory familiarity with the sub-Sahara Africa. What I found was a picture of greed, corruption and societies that seem to encourage the worst in human behavior. The book is written as a travelogue; each chapter is devoted to the author's exploration of a country in the Gulf of Guinea region. The style is conversational, which makes the prose easy to read. This is not to say that this is by any means a "light" book. In short, this book serves as a great I confess I approached this book with only a cursory familiarity with the sub-Sahara Africa. What I found was a picture of greed, corruption and societies that seem to encourage the worst in human behavior. The book is written as a travelogue; each chapter is devoted to the author's exploration of a country in the Gulf of Guinea region. The style is conversational, which makes the prose easy to read. This is not to say that this is by any means a "light" book. In short, this book serves as a great introduction to what may be one of the most important issues of the 21st century. It is just unfortunate that it is also one of the saddest.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    A fascinating and engaging look at the history of the oil industry in Africa as well as its social and political effects. The author is particularly concerned with the vast disparities of wealth that oil has generated in those nations possessing oil as well as the increasing attention being paid to Africa by the Great Powers and the oil industry. The author avoids the easy way out - blaming all of Africa's problems on evil foreigners/imperialists/capitalists/oligarchs, instead painting a much ric A fascinating and engaging look at the history of the oil industry in Africa as well as its social and political effects. The author is particularly concerned with the vast disparities of wealth that oil has generated in those nations possessing oil as well as the increasing attention being paid to Africa by the Great Powers and the oil industry. The author avoids the easy way out - blaming all of Africa's problems on evil foreigners/imperialists/capitalists/oligarchs, instead painting a much richer and more muddled picture. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jay Garcia

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in African current events or international oil politics. The author ties each chapter together with his personal experiences within each county. The book benefits from this, but the author is also gifted with the ability to describe African politics and history lucidly. I would also recommend Robert Klitgaard's "Tropical Gangsters" or Howard French's "A Continent For The Taking" to anyone who liked this book or is interested in the subject I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in African current events or international oil politics. The author ties each chapter together with his personal experiences within each county. The book benefits from this, but the author is also gifted with the ability to describe African politics and history lucidly. I would also recommend Robert Klitgaard's "Tropical Gangsters" or Howard French's "A Continent For The Taking" to anyone who liked this book or is interested in the subject matter.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Walter

    As someone who was born in Equatorial Guinea, I was overjoyed to read a contemporary account of the issues that country (and other neighboring ones) faced after the discovery of oil. At the same time, I was struck with dismay. Ghazvinian clearly shows the extent to which this sudden acquisition of wealth, almost all of which went to corrupt national leaders and transnational corporations, contributed to the disintegration of these their economies and the horrifying impoverishment of millions of As someone who was born in Equatorial Guinea, I was overjoyed to read a contemporary account of the issues that country (and other neighboring ones) faced after the discovery of oil. At the same time, I was struck with dismay. Ghazvinian clearly shows the extent to which this sudden acquisition of wealth, almost all of which went to corrupt national leaders and transnational corporations, contributed to the disintegration of these their economies and the horrifying impoverishment of millions of people.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tom Oman

    This is really the wild west. A glimpse into an absolutely manic world of corruption and chaos in an industry so lucrative that it's able to overcome or maybe overlook all the madness surrounding it. Africa is just a crazy place, where it seems any kind of industry is going to be subject to the ways of the land. As much as it may seem that the large companies are to blame, they would never choose to engage in the kind of tribalism and cronyism that takes place in these countries.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Untapped paints a disturbing picture of modern Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea. Part travelogue, part modern history, and part economic and political analysis, this well-researched and compelling book documents the litany of woes that have accompanied Africa’s rise as an oil-producing region. Ghazvinian deserves enormous credit for writing an accessible and intelligent account.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Part travel diary and part international analysis of the oil industry in Africa, the author, a crafty journalist/academic, spends a couple years traveling around some of the roughest parts of Africa while asking the kinds of questions that could get one killed. This book is not only very informative, but it is also a compelling read. I highly recommend it to environmentalists and humanitarians.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Good for the information, I suppose, but written in a particularly engaging fashion. The preface does nothing other than give the reader that the author is self-involved or is angling for a good opening scene when it's adapted to film, which will be never. I think the content would have been better-presented as a series of long articles in a worthwhile monthly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aram

    John Ghazvinian hit the ground in Africa to research the oil rush there, and while that sounds like common sense, he is one of the few. It means a remarkable insight into the continent, but mainly into the industry that is changing Africa. He visits the boom towns, with their devastating "gold rush" atmosphere, instead of sticking with any oil company junket.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Very readable introduction to not only oil politics, but also the general politics of several major West African oil producers. Didn't focus as much on Sudan as I thought it would, but helped me learn a lot about West African geography and recent history (since independence for most of these countries).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Inger Hanson

    Engaging non-fiction that looks at the continent's role in world energy... I didn't know very much about oil and so learned a lot on that front, but mostly I loved it because it gave a careful, modern look at the continent without getting either sensational or ultra-conservative.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert Hill

    Interesting first-hand view of Africa's western coast nations with the misfortune of sitting on top of oil and how the 'Dutch disease' gets started in nations with rich natural resources and how economic conditions for the people never seem to improve...........

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Hurst

    I could not put this book down. John Ghazvinian does a fantastic job of explaining the situation around oil in Africa in an entertaining way. I thought this book read like a novel. It was both interesting and informative. Nice job!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    Very good historical overview of oil in west Africa. I really enjoyed it and now want to go read what has happened with each of these industries between 2007 when the book was published and now in 2015.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    Untapped is a tidy piece of popularized political economics. For obvious reasons, it's an important subject to understand, and the author makes the story quite compelling and entertaining.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erin and Jim

    I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in the future development of African nations. -EL

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The tragedies involved when a country gains "wealth" from oil discovery.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Curtis

    Loved this book. It should be the first book you read on the oil industry in Africa. I think I'll use this in an African Politics class in the future.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    A frightening look at oil.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judd

    Especially interested in author's theories about the curse of oil, which can be expanded into the curse of "fill in the mineral."

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.