Item description for Over a Barrel: Breaking the Middle East Oil Cartel by Raymond Learsy...
Overview Longtime commodities trader Raymond J. Learsy lifts the veil of the Mideast oil cartel, showing how OPEC manipulates the oil markets and destabilizes the world's economy. With refreshing candor and an insider's perspective, Learsy explains how OPEC: twists bogus perceptions of oil scarcity to hike prices and gain political power; is compromised by Islamist terrorist connections that fuel anti-American hatreds with dollars from our own wallets; keeps Third-World nations in abject poverty despite their rich oil deposits; became the de facto master of Iraq's newly liberated oil fields. A sharp, sweeping survey of OPEC's methods of economic dominance, this book explains how to bust the Mideast oil cartel and chart our own course toward energy independence.
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Studio: Thomas Nelson
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.7" Height: 1.1" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Aug 31, 2005
Publisher Thomas Nelson
ISBN 1595550364 ISBN13 9781595550361 UPC 020049140215
Reviews - What do customers think about Over a Barrel: Breaking the Middle East Oil Cartel?
Politics and Wall Street Trump Math and Science Aug 6, 2008
I already stated my opinion as a reply to Dr Heinberg's criticism of the book. However I summarize my reply into a comment. "Over a Barrel": Breaking The Middle East Oil Cartel knows that Politicians and Financiers rule the world. The poor naive Scientists and Mathematicians believe that Theories and Algorithms will always be trumped By The President and his family's friends in Saudi Arabia. The book is a must read for every naive American voter before November, 2008. Otherwise; They will place another man in The White House who is owned by The Oil Special Interest countries and corporations.
The truth about the oil cartel, with a plan to break them Oct 9, 2006
I read for two reasons: entertainment and education. If a book fails at achieving one of the two, then I consider it a waste of time. However, Raymond Learsy's commentary on the current oil market was hardly that. Learsy built a successful career in commodities trading and spent some of that career in the Middle East. His is the opinion of a capitalist and not a politician, which is a breath of fresh air for someone with limited knowledge on the current subject.In this book, Learsy tackles the problem of America's dependence on foreign oil like a veteran problem-solver. He first identifies the problem clearly while also doing away with much of the myth about America's oil dependence that seems to have flooded the mainstream press as of late. He then gives an historical account of how this problem came to be including the rise to power of OPEC. Then, he gives a detailed plan for how we can get ourselves out from under the boot of OPEC and free ourselves of the shackles of foreign oil dependence. Before I read this book, I had little insight into the problem we face as a nation when it comes to energy and foreign oil dependence. Now, I realize not only the complexity of problem, but I am also aware of a way to remedy it. I have Raymond Learsy to thank for that. I think this is a book all policy makers and political leaders should read. For that matter, it's a book all voters should read. It comes highly recommended from this reviewer.
Reviewed on behalf of readandreview.com
Poorly Thought Out Dec 24, 2005
Learsy starts with the assumption that OPEC is responsible for high gas prices. That would be true, except for two facts: 1)OPEC currently only produces about 42% of the world's oil, and 2)commodity market prices are set by the HIGHEST-COST profitable producers (certainly not OPEC) - and they are probably within the U.S.
Yes, it is true that MidEast pumping costs may be as low as $1.00/barrel. However, if someone else is able to sell the same product for eg. $70/barrel (pumping cost of $60) - do you expect the Emirs to sell for only $1.00 (and ignore their Harvard economic educations)? To drive down the cost of oil, one has to reduce demand.
Fortunately, Learsy does come to the correct conclusion, and lists some good ideas for reducing demand. However, since the U.S. has proven that millions are not interested in conservation (would rather buy SUVs), this has to mandated via significant CAFE increases.
Another Learsy suggestion is to sue OPEC for price manipulation. However, I have trouble understanding why OPEC is bound by U.S. law for transactions outside the U.S. Further, petroleum engineers caution that pumping too fast can result in significantly reducing the TOTAL oil that can be removed over time.
Learsy also believes that OPEC can be "tamed" by utilizing the U.S. and other nations' oil reserves. The "bad news" is that the U.S. and European reserves would cover about two weeks usage. How is that going to impress OPEC, or anybody else?
Learsy also claims that the supply of oil is much higher than experts estimate. The bulk of his "logic" is based on prior warnings that proved false. Unfortunately, such rationale has no value - its like the hypocondriac that claimed each day would be his last - eventually he was right! Learsy then brings up the vast Canadian oil shale and sand deposits - ignoring the fact that there have already been a number of failures to profitably mine Canadian oil shale and oil sands.
Overall, the book is probably not worth the paper it is printed on. If one condensed "Over a Barrel" to its correct points, only about one page would be required.
OPEC and Natural Gas Dec 19, 2005
Learsy was touting his book on C-Span last night. He did not present any scientific evidence for his opinions. He made no attempt to correct audience statements such as 'most of the Alaskan oil is shipped to Japan'. He did not address the imminent natural gas crisis. The cost of natural gas has gone up more than gasoline. Does Learsy belive that OPEC controls production of natural gas in the US?
Ignores the Facts Oct 12, 2005
The reason that many of the negative reviews of this book have been of the 'snide' variety reflects (I hope) not so much the fact that the Bush administration is implicated in Learsy's conspiracy theory but that the book ignores the facts surrounding the story. If there is a political slant, I would argue that it is the inevitable American xenophobia that often creeps into political discourse in times of trouble.
As other reviewers have noted, the facts of the global supply/demand environment do not match with what Learsy is selling. He uses no facts to prop up his arguments that OPEC is gouging the US because the facts point to the opposite:
Consensus estimates show that OPEC is producing at as close to full capacity as possible (98%-99%). There is likely a small amount of production that is shut-in in Saudi Arabia but it is high-sulphur, low gravity (heavy) oil that wouldn't suit US refineries even if it was shipped. These numbers are readily available from any major investment firm or publicly from the International Energy Agency.
Secondly, Learsy conveniently ignores the fact that oil producers are price takers. Because oil is a global commodity, it is the international market that sets prices and as anyone who has been following commodity markets over the past five years has seen, the growing economies of Asia have been hungry for as much product as they can get their hands on. It is these competing buyers going after a finite supply that have sent the prices to current levels. OPEC has not been able to set prices since 2001 when there was still a surplus of global supplies and OPEC had spare capacity.
Finally, OPEC members may be corrupt but they are not stupid. Extremely high oil prices are a potential liability for these countries. Investments in the high-cost Canadian tar sands; deep-water offshore and politically unstable countries are a product of high prices. This increases non-OPEC supply and diminishes any last control OPEC may have over markets or influence it might buy with the US government.
If you want to read a proper book analyzing the current oil situation, read Simmons book, which has a cogent theory backed-up with facts and numbers. This book is simply a materialization of classic American xenophobia looking for a convenient scapegoat to bash in a time of economic uncertainty.
The world is not running out of oil, the world is running out of cheap oil.