Recommended Reading


Money in the Ground

by John Orban III ISBN 0961577665

Who Should Read this Book The primary audience for Money in the Ground are those considering investing in oil and gas drilling programs. Additionally, those with a general interest in how the industry “finds” oil and brings it to market will enjoy this book. Royalty owners (ie mineral interest owners) who derive any significant income from oil (or gas) royalty payments will enjoy knowing what goes into creating the revenue from which their checks originate.

Summary Mr. Orban begins by reviewing the origin or petroleum and taking us through the finding and producing process, from an operational perspective. Along the way, he mentions some of the financial considerations, especially from a tax perspective. Discussion of geology, reservoirs, acquiring the rights to drill, drilling, completion of wells, and finally production are treated such that the layman can gain an understanding.

Then he moves on to the marketing of oil and gas, from the wellhead to the end user. This of course is of importance to all interest owners, since this is where the revenue dollars begin to be accounted for. Following this, the author discusses various business elements of being a part of a drilling program, especially focusing on tax issues, deal structure, and limited partnerships, augmented by a chapter on knowing which financial metrics matter. Finally, there’s a chapter on new technology that is emerging in the oil patch, which gives some insight into the direction of the entire industry. There’s a healthy Appendix with various tables, statistics, industry associations, and a glossary.

The Upshot – It’s a little pricey but it’s good. If you want a good overview of how the upstream oil and gas business works to discover and produce the oil and gas behind your revenue checks, or you want to participate in oil and gas drilling programs, this is a book for you.

Twilight in the Desert

by Matthew R. Simmons ISBN 9780471738763

Who Should Read this Book Investors, royalty owners, and oil industry personell will all enjoy this look at the gorilla sized influence of Saudia Arabia’s super giant oil fields.

Summary Saudi Arabia’s oil field’s – that’s the topic. Did you know that 90 percent of all oil that Saudi has ever produced has come from seven giant oilfields? Natural, and some say unstoppable, depletion is taking it’s toll on Saudi production. Matthew Simmons, a longtime analyst of world energy supplies, makes the case through factual engineering studies that there is a twilight coming to this vast source of the world’s crude supply, and that it will have devastating impact. Simmons seeks to sound the alarm in the face of extreme secrecy by the Saudi government on the capacity of their oil fields to continue producing at such prolific rates.

The Upshot This is a technically compelling book filled with little known facts about the world’s most prolific supplier of crude oil. Stories of OPEC and gasoline prices on the evening news will never be the same for you after reading this book.

Leisure Category

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

by Daniel Yergin ISBN 9781439110126

Who Should Read this Book Those who truly enjoy reading - and have the time to do so. If you enjoy world history and want to read the definitive work on the worldwide oil industry, soup to nuts, this is for you.

Summary The “Prize” of course is crude oil, ie Black Gold. This 1992 Pulitzer prize winner starts with the search for “rock oil” and ends with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. At 781 pages, Yergin’s breadth and depth of the people, places, events of the worldwide oil industry is unmatched.

The Upshot You’re appreciation for the impact of crude oil has had on society (and your life) will skyrocket as a result of reading this book. You’ll get a world history lesson to boot.

The Big Rich

by Bryan Burrough ISBN 9781594201998

Who Should Read this Book Those interested in super-sized Texas oil history will find this very hard to put down. If you have any fascination at all with oil and the characters that made it big, The Big Rich is for you.

Summary This very enjoyable read chronicles the growth of the American oil business through the lives of four men (and their families) who truly made it big - Roy Cullen, H.L. Hunt, Clint Murchison and Sid Richardson. One was a lifelong bigamist, one an elementary school dropout, and one remained single all his life. Throughout, these larger than life characters discover oil and gas fields as if they were almost sure bets, apparantly having a “nose” that others didn’t. The influence gained through their enormous wealth remains with us today through their political influence and the multitude of grants made to the public good. No doubt, everthing is bigger in Texas, as this tome shows.

The Upshot The tantalizing story of larger than life oil barrons and their influence on America from the 1920’s through the 1980’s - history, intrigue, politics, all wrapped in Texas sized drama.

History Category

Early Texas Oil, A photographic History, 1866 – 1936

by Walter Rundell, Jr. ISBN 08909602901

Who Should Read this Book Better said, “who should view” – this is one of the best photo histories of the Texas oil business in existence, to be enjoyed by anyone with a coffee table or business lobby.

Summary Early Texas Oil graphically presents the discovery and establishment of the Texas oil industry in over 300 photographs taken from 1866 – 1936. From the first well near Nacogdoches in 1866 , to finds in Corsicana, then on to Spindletop’s roaring 1901 discovery, Mr. Rundell captures in pictures the state’s significant field discoveries. Among them, Saratoga, Goose Creek, Burkburnett, Ranger, Big Lake, Borger, and of course the giant East Texas Field. This is an easy read, with ample context and vivid descriptions of the wildcatters, roustabouts, drillers, and ruffians who made black gold synonymous with Texas.

The Upshot If you want a conversation piece that you’ll routinely enjoy showing off (and consuming yourself), this history in pictures is for you.

Oil in the Deep South

by Dudley J. Hughes ISBN 0878056157

Who Should Read this Book Anyone who wants an appreciation for the rich history and substantial economic impact that the oil business has had on Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Geologists, landmen and royalty owners will enjoy Mr. Hughes’ first hand details.

Summary Oil in the Deep South chronicles the development of the oil and gas industry in the South through the pen of a first hand player. As a geologist and wildcatter, Dudley Hughes was active for much of this time period, thus giving first hand accounts of the people and places that sprang crude from the pine studded landscape. Discoveries of Tinsley, Amory, Heidelberg, Bay Springs, Gwinville, Brookhaven, Eucutta, and Gilbertown among many others are detailed here. Especially notable is the importance of the Tinsley field in fueling America’s effort in WWII.

The Upshot If you’re interested in oil in the South, this is the first and only book to date dedicated to it’s details. Very readable and full of details of names and places that you’ll likely recognize.

Land, Oil, and Education

by Berte R. Haigh

Who Should Read this Book Texas history buffs, educators, and those with ties to Texas colleges will all find this a pleasant read.

Summary From the days of the Texas Republic, men of foresight planned for educating its young with the one thing it had plenty of - land. This story tells of setting aside vast tracts of then desolate land, with the notion that it could be used to fund a higher education system. Mr. Haigh takes us from the sparkle of the idea in 1839, through the discovery of the Santa Rita #1 oil well, all the way into the modern petroleum era. Land, Oil and Education presents one of the most unique accounts of financing higher education in the entire United States.

The Upshot This is a fascinating read detailing the undercarriage of how a rural band of believers developed and financed one of the great University systems of the United States.