The Oil Road

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

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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.


  • The Oil Road is an inspiring act of political cartography. It makes chastisingly visible the means by which we blithely consume ‘the geology of elsewhere.’

    Robert Macfarlane, author of The Wild Places and The Old Ways
  • As global powers scramble for the last of the world’s diminishing resources, comes this book—well researched and written with empathy, integrity and imagination. It is timely and much needed.

    Ahdaf Soueif, author of The Map of Love
  • This book is so masterful, so authoritatively researched and so elegantly written, that it succeeds in distilling a complex and changing ‘carbon web’ of engineering companies, legal firms, and financiers, into an intimate and engaging personal story.

    Suzi Gablik, author of Has Modernism Failed?