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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading for both the general consumer and investors
First, a disclaimer. I no longer have financial investments in the stock or bond markets so I do not keep up to date on the details of their activities, although I do check the ups and downs of the Dow, NASDAQ, and the S & P on a daily basis. While George Orwel's "Black Gold" should appeal to active investors, particularly to those involved in or considering the oil and...
Published on June 19, 2006 by Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No real new ideas for investors, disappointing
I had high hopes for this book, given the subject matter and my interest in energy stocks. "Black Gold" by reporter George Orwel (no, he's not the author of "Animal Farm") discusses the energy industry in very broad macroeconomic terms, and offers a repetitive explanation of the concept of "peak oil," that is, that point at which oil production reaches its peak before the...
Published on March 8, 2007 by Seth Maier


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No real new ideas for investors, disappointing, March 8, 2007
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This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
I had high hopes for this book, given the subject matter and my interest in energy stocks. "Black Gold" by reporter George Orwel (no, he's not the author of "Animal Farm") discusses the energy industry in very broad macroeconomic terms, and offers a repetitive explanation of the concept of "peak oil," that is, that point at which oil production reaches its peak before the known supply of reserves begins a steady decline. The pessimists (mostly geologists) think peak oil will occur in the next five to 10 years, while the optimists (mostly economists) think peak oil will occur in 30 years at the very earliest. This dwindling supply will create opportunities for investors who want to capitalize on increased investment in oil exploration infrastructure and technology. This book was published when oil was at $80 a barrel in summer 2006, which at the time was a peak price, and the prediction that oil would reach $100 a barrel within two years proved to be remarkably conservative. China and India show no signs of slaking their thirst for oil, environmentalists oppose tapping into potentially vast U.S. resources, and capacity constraints among refiners limit supply of gasoline. As this book is not the first to point out, China may have as many cars in the next 10 years as the United States does now.
The book also has no specific ideas on which energy-related companies are best positioned to grow in the next five to 10 years. For that kind of info, I recommend investors do some homework on the oil service companies, such as Weatherford International, Schlumberger, Cameron International, National Oilwell Varco, and Halliburton. Perhaps only two of these companies are even mentioned in this book, which tends to discuss ideas about investing in energy-related ETFs and commodities. Perhaps these investment ideas are good, but they are also much more volatile for the average investor. Also, the book doesn't discuss specific companies in the field of alternative and renewable energy, which is also drawing increased investment.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading for both the general consumer and investors, June 19, 2006
By 
Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty (Port Orford, OR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
First, a disclaimer. I no longer have financial investments in the stock or bond markets so I do not keep up to date on the details of their activities, although I do check the ups and downs of the Dow, NASDAQ, and the S & P on a daily basis. While George Orwel's "Black Gold" should appeal to active investors, particularly to those involved in or considering the oil and natural gas markets, it's primary appeal to me was the background the author supplies in Parts One and Part Two of his book regarding the oil industry in general, especially its past development, its current status, and its probable future.

All of us are impacted by the oil industry in one way or the other and the future of oil (most recently its price at the gas pump!) is of vital concern to virtually everyone. Furthermore, the problem of oil conservation, the controversies surrounding air pollution and global-warming, the possibility of running out of oil sometime in the future, and the urgency of developing alternative fuels are all "hot topics" right now, both in the national and international press as well as among ordinary consumers.

Part One of Orwel's book is entitled "The End of Oil" and asks the question: is this "The End of an Era?" Then the book discusses the consequences of an oil peak and probes the matter of alternative fuels, from solar and nuclear energy to wind and even wood. Orwel discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative fuel source and includes information regarding the potential investment value of each alternative.

Part Two is entitled "The Middle East Problem" and asks the question "Is the Saudi Oil Supply Adequate?" and discusses the "Iraqi Oil Supply and the Battle of Baghdad." Orwel offers an insider's view of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, including a discussion how much trust can be placed in what these oil-producing countries say they can produce versus the reality of what they actually can produce. Orwel here provides essential information for the regular oil consumer, but especially important information for the potential investor.

As I have already mentioned, these were the two parts which most interested me and I think will be of interest to most general readers. Part Three, on the other hand, tends to be rather technical but will appeal to anyone involved currently in the financial markets or considering investments in the oil industry. Orwel provides much detailed data about the ins and outs and ups and downs of the oil market, more than I could internalize during just a general reading of the material. There are detailed charts and graphs which are used to argue that now may be the best time to invest in the oil industry and how to discover the most profitable opportunities. Investors will probably love all the figures and analyses he provides, while the casual reader may ignore them without any loss of content important to the ordinary consumer.

However, what I have said about Part Three of the book (that its main appeal will be with actual or potential investors) does have one exception. The first chapter of Part Three -- "Why and How Oil Prices Soared" -- may be of interest to the general reader but, again, it is a very detailed discussion and may require one (as it did me) to slow down a bit and even go over the material again. For those with the time and interest, however, Orwel's discussion of the topic is definitely worth the effort. He certainly provides an important explanation for the recent surge in oil prices which goes far beyond that provided to the ordinary consumer by the national news and the political pundits.

Generally, then, "Black Gold" can be read on two levels. First, Orwel offers the general reader an interesting and understandable discussion of the historical development of the oil industry, an analysis of past oil crises and the current issues which are impacting us now, and a look into the possible future surrounding oil exploration and production. Second, Orwel offers the investment community an in-depth analysis regarding the issues of supply and demand, provides a guide to the opportunities available to those currently holding oil investments and to those seeking to profit from investments in the oil industry, and discusses various types of investments from mutual funds to exchange-traded funds (ETFs), from SPACs, STARTs and hedge funds to superfunds and private equity.

The author certainly has impressive credentials. He is an oil analyst and writer for both the "Oil Daily" and "Petroleum Intelligence Weekly," with six years spent as a reporter on the oil market for "Dow Jones Newswires." He has also appeared many times on major news outlets such as CNN and National Public Radio. Orwell's book concludes with a section on "Fuel Facts" and a feature entitled "Some Questions to Test Your Energy Knowledge." It also includes a bibliography with notes and a comprehensive index. In conclusion, "Black Gold" is both practical and informative and an excellent read for both the general consumer and the interested investor.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understand the Future of Energy, June 20, 2006
By 
This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
The subtitle of this book, "The New Frontier in Oil for Investors," would indicate this book is a guide to investing in oil. It is not. If you're looking for a manual that will tell you how to make gazillions of dollars from investments in the oil marketplace, keep looking. Black Gold does provide some good tips for investors, but few of those would be new to seasoned investors.

The real value of this book lies elsewhere: understanding the energy issues facing industrialized nations. This particular topic is one where the "ignorati" weigh in with various unfounded opinions and absurd suggestions--everything from suggesting Americans should boycott certain gas stations to assuming technology will provide new energy sources that make oil obsolete.

Orwel, unlike the "analytically-challenged" talking heads, very clearly presents the picture on the looming energy crisis. Is there really an energy crisis? Many "experts" assure us there is not. They point to alternative energy sources and say we have nothing to worry about because these sources are here now. All we have to do is switch over--no problem. Orwel dispels these notions by examining a few of these. For example, he points out that "We could line the Atlantic coast with windmills and still not make much of a dent in electricity demand."

Many experts who agree there is an energy crisis also say the easy solution is to simply extract more oil. They recommend such thing as drilling in ANWAR or expanding production in existing fields. The first recommendation ignores the realities of enormous lead times. The second one violates the principle of getting blood from a turnip. Even if we could do these things right now, they wouldn't fill the gap produced by projected demand in the near term.

Other experts say we need to conserve. They are correct, but we can't conserve enough to prevent ourselves from running out of oil in the relatively near future.

Orwel discusses how much oil we actually have, the problems in tapping into proven reserves, refining issues, and public policy problems that hamper any efforts to increase the oil supply. He also provides a detailed explanation regarding how most of the available oil is in politically unstable countries. A supply disruption is more likely than not, in the near future.

What about demand? Where has it all come from? Orwel tells us that, as well. But he is careful not to simply discuss the present drivers of supply and project a linear curve from there. He looks deeper, drawing on both historical data and emerging trends. By the time you get 50 pages into the book, it is fairly obvious that you don't need to read his biography to know he's an analyst, and a good one at that.

To me, this book is "required reading" for all people who have been surprised over the rise in gas pump prices in the last couple of years. For the rest of us, it helps us understand what's coming and how to prepare for it. From the book's subtitle we know the book will reveal some things about investment opportunities. But, it reveals so much more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars New Frontier, July 14, 2008
By 
keith renick (Peachtree City, Ga. USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
I enjoyed Mr. Orwel's book "Black Gold." It was easy to read and it had several things in the book that I didn't know. Like President Clinton's Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which stated that, "It shall be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." This book is light reading. Don't expect to find a lot of deep thought. It's almost like a long newspaper article. I don't regret I bought the book. Regards, Keith Renick, Saudi Aramco Oil Co. Retired
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book to read, July 5, 2008
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This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
A really good read if you want to understand why gas costs so much these days. This book provides a very thorough analysis of the coming oil peak. What George Orwel has foreseen few years back is what we are experiencing today. A must read for everybody.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preparation for a Pending Wake-up Call, July 3, 2006
By 
Craig L. Howe (Darien, CT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
The signs the world is headed for an impending catastrophe are everywhere. For decades we have enjoyed cheap energy. Many believe we are headed for an oil peak - the point where the earth's oil production will begin declining at a rate of approximately two per cent per year.

Improved technologies may squeeze more oil from old wells; tar sands and heavy oil conversions may add to the supply. Yet one need only look at the rising price at the pump to realize there is no longer supply and demand equilibrium.

In Black Gold, George Orwel explores the implications of this imbalance for both investors and consumers. He argues oil prices are prepared for what he terms an "uberspike" which will challenge the world's economic, political and philosophical order.

The author, an oil analyst and senior writer for the Oil Daily and Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, provides:

* An insightful analysis of alternative fuel sources - their plusses and minuses and investment potential.

* An insider's view of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East production capabilities.

* An analysis of alternative investments, including ETFs, energy futures and hedge funds.

This well-written book is a thoughtful and action-oriented look at what may prove to be the greatest investment and industrial challenge facing the world's people today.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rehash of peak oil, July 6, 2006
This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
This is a good intro to the coming peak oil crisis. It summarizes the current state of the energy situation in a measured, non-politicized way. The author was an industry insider and sceptic until a couple of years ago, but is now firmly in the peak oil camp. I get the impression that the book is a record of his conversion. It is well researched and full of detail, but the sources are the same old same old: Colin Campbell, Kenneth Deffeyes, Matt Simmons. So there isn't much ground broken here.

Although the book purports to be aimed at investors, there are few, if any, securities mentioned or recommended. I suppose that since the author is a journalist, he dares not. Perhaps he knows, like the Clint Eastwood character in the old spaghetti western, "A man has got to know his limitations." So he leaves this to the reader with some general statements about companies with reserves in politically stable regions, etc.

My main gripe with Black Gold is the run-on sentences, abrupt segues from idea to idea, and somewhat disorganized chapter structure. It appears to have been either hastily written or casually edited. Orwel is clearly a good enough writer, but he just wasn't careful enough here. So I disagree somewhat with the other reviewer who said it was well written.
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1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Random Collection of Articles, July 22, 2006
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This review is from: Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors (Hardcover)
The book is a random collection of magazine articles previously published by the author.

The grammar is loose, the material is repetitious, there is no sense of progression or overall theme, and I doubt the reviewers mentioned on the back flap actually read the book.

But most damning is the typical journalist's proclivity for mindlessly shilling for the global warming lobby as if it actually existed as a matter of settled science which of course it is not.

After slogging through a few chapters I gave it up as a hopeless waste of time.
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Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors
Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors by George Orwel (Hardcover - June 5, 2006)
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