Oil on Water

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 August, 2010, 12:00am

Oil on Water
by Paul French and Sam Chambers
Zed Books, HK$206

In a world without oil, the following could happen in East Asia: in China the rapid slowdown in manufacturing could lead to mass unemployment, which may result in social discontent and a crackdown by rulers. In Japan, which imports 95 per cent of its oil, military manoeuvres to secure oil-supply routes could be the result, and that may spark conflict with China and a regional arms race. Those possible scenarios are arrived at by Paul French and Sam Chambers in Oil on Water, about the delivery of the commodity from one part of the world to another. Increasingly, that destination has been East Asia, now a big investor in the petro economies worldwide, especially the newly emerging ones in Russia, Africa and Latin America. In addition to tracking (literally) the movement of black gold, the book looks at threats to the smooth transport of oil, including the problems posed by piracy. To ease readers into the chapters, and to explain the process of transporting oil, the pair provide first-hand accounts of accompanying 180,000 tonnes of crude oil from the UAE to Taiwan, a 19-day trip that costs the ship they're on US$110,000 a day.