The Oil Road: Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London

A journey along a controversial European pipeline becomes a profound exploration of the oil economy.

In a unique journey from the oil fields of the Caspian Sea to the refineries and financial centres of Northern Europe, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello track the concealed routes along which flows the lifeblood of our economy. The stupendous resource of Azerbaijani crude has long inspired dreams of a world remade. From the revolutionary Futurism of the capital city, Baku, in the 1920s to the unblinking Capitalism of modern London, the drive to control the region’s oil reserves—and hence people and events—has shattered environments and shaped societies.

In The Oil Road, the human scale of village life in the Caucasus Mountains and the plains of Anatolia is suddenly, and sometimes fatally, confronted by the almost ungraspable scale of the oil corporation BP. Pipelines and tanker routes tie the fraying social democracies of Italy, Austria and Germany to the repressive regimes of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. A web of financial and political institutions in London stitches together the lives of metropolis and village.

Building on a decade of study with Platform, Marriott and Minio-Paluello guide us through a previously obscured landscape of energy production and consumption, resistance and profit that has marked Europe for over a century. They blend the empathy of committed travel writing with the precision of investigative journalism in a timely book of compelling urgency.

The human race travels the Oil Road, and this book helps us to realize where we are heading and why it is time to change direction.


  • “An elegantly written travel book about a pipeline … A distinctive blend of travelogue, reportage and history.”
  • “A lovingly crafted narrative, a rich tapestry of first-hand anecdote and historical reconstruction.”
  • “Opens the lid on the often-shady energy economy, weaving absorbing travel reportage into powerful investigative journalism.”


  • "Hunger and poverty are inseparable" - an extract from David Rieff's The Reproach of Hunger

    In The Reproach of Hunger, David Rieff  discusses the beginnings of the global food crisis, dispelling the myth that it's cause can be attributed to population increase. Instead failure to address climate change, a rise in oil prices and poor governance has led to a crisis of hunger where poorest nations are inevitably hit the hardest.

    In the below extract Rieff traces the start of the crisis in 2007 and asks if eight years later we can 'reform the global food system and make sustained global agricultural development an enduring reality?'  

    (Photo:New York Times)

    Continue Reading

  • Against the Anthropocene

    In this article (originally published in Issue 1 of Salvage Quarterly - available here), Daniel Hartley argues that the concept of the Anthropocene, which has become so common in contemporary discussions of climate change, elides the fissures within society. It is not human (Anthropos) but Capital which is at the root of our current crisis.

    Continue Reading

  • Andreas Malm: Our Fight for Survival

    In this article, originally published on the Jacobin website, Andreas Malm (author of Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming) argues that ahead of COP21, and with Hollande's clampdown on protests around Paris in the weeks of the conference, that confronting climate change through militant resistence in the streets is more important than ever.

    The climate negotiations entered their final day, and we geared up for our most audacious action. Several buses brought four hundred activists to different locations near the conference hall. Adrenaline running, we walked fast toward the gates and the guards. After a week of discussing sea level rise, eating vegan food, blocking car traffic, and marching in the streets dressed as polar bears and turtles, we were out to make a real difference.

    Continue Reading