Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review of Oil Notes by Rick Bass

I was expecting Oil Notes by former petroleum geologist Rick Bass to be a great little read, but the new introduction in the second, 2012 edition revealed that it was going to be a disappointment.

What kind of petroleum geologist refers to our fossil fuel bounty as "dirty carbon"? Or moans about oil spills like Deepwater Horizon (a rare accident) becoming frequent occurrences that will "disturb our blithe innocence" if we "continue drilling at such absurd depths"? He quotes Obama's admonishment that "as a nation we have to grow up now".

This reminds me of another terrible petroleum history book, Petrolia, where I had to remind the author that fossil fuels liberated humanity from darkness and manual labor.

The original edition was published in 1989, and some of it was worthwhile:

"This is a thing oilmen (masc. and gem.) do: they put oil in sample jars, little solid glass cups with screw-on caps. You can unscrew the cap and smell it. [...] When no one else is in the office, put the cap back on and hold the bottle up to your ear. Picture an ancient seashore. A world so different from the one we are in now it is frightening."
I guess it says a lot that he was politically correct in 1989.

He was a development geologist, who worked to define the boundaries of a discovered field, as opposed to an exploration geologist looking for previously unknown oil.

Says he doesn't know or care much about leases, that the land aspect is boring to a geologist. Yeah right. I'm curious how oil companies know about or prevent their employees' cousins from leasing land in a hot new play.

I would guess that as Bass became a novelist, he thought he was leaving "dirty carbon" behind.


No comments: