EGEE 120
Oil: International Evolution

Lesson 1 Readings

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Reading Assignments for Lesson 1

Students are to read three chapters of the text - The Prize. Sections not listed are optional.

Chapter 1 - Oil on the Brain: The Beginning

Sections to Read

  • Introduction
  • To "Assuage our Woes"
  • Price and Innovation
  • The "Colonel"
  • "The Light of the Age"
  • Boom and Bust

Major Themes to Ponder as You Read

  • Idea of switch-point, transition from whale oil to petroleum.
  • Technological innovation is key.
  • Boom phenomenon – role of profits.
  • Backside of a boom is a bust.
  • Pennsylvania, 1860-1890, the dominant oil producing region in the world.

Chapter 2 - "Our Plan": John D. Rockefeller and the Combination of American Oil

Sections to Read

  • Introduction
  • "Methodical to an Extreme"
  • The Great Game
  • "Now Try Our Plan"
  • "War or Peace"
  • New Threats
  • The Trust
  • "Buy All We Can Get"
  • The Upbuilder

Major Themes to Ponder as You Read

  • Early oil industry, highly competitive – many players.
  • Standard Oil (SO) emerged as dominant firm – gained by cost reduction and aggressive but legal tactics.
  • SO first modern corporation – legal entity with limited liability and bureaucratic structure.

Chapter 3 - Competitive Commerce

Sections to Read

  • Introduction
  • "The Walnut Money"
  • The Rise of Russian Oil
  • The Son of the Shell Merchant
  • The Coup of 1892
  • Royal Dutch

Major Themes to Ponder as You Read

  • Standard Oil’s dominance eroded with several emerging competitors - Russian oil & later Dutch East Indies, British traders played a key role.
  • Transportation is critical.
  • Case study in entrepreneurship - Visionary thinking, Putting the pieces together, Improvising - Changing Priorities.
  • Recurring attempts to form cartels.

Optional Chapter Section Readings

Chapter 1 optional reading sections

  • The Disappearing Professor
  • The First Boom

Chapter 2 optional reading sections

  • "The Wise Old Owl"
  • A Marvel to the Eye

Chapter 3 optional reading sections

  • The Challenge to Standard Oil
  • The Alderman
  • "This Struggle to the Death"
  • "Dutch Obstacles"