A Six Part Series (6 x 50:00 NTSC DVD) Directed by Jean Pierre Beaurenaut and Yves Billon, Produced by Les Films du Village in association with Planet Group Entertainment Ltd.
1. The Golden Age of the Majors
2. Oil Nationalism
3. Oil as a Weapon
4. Oil Gone, A Time of Hope or Despair
5. Oil, The Beginning of the End
6. The After-Oil Era
*Please note that each part is available for separate purchase. There is a great discount for purchase of the entire Series. See all details below. All Episodes are licensed for classroom screening and on-campus streaming.
About the Series:
With the advent of the Trump Administration and the Secretary of State appointment of Rex Tillerson, Chairman of Exxon, and the warming of relations with Vladimir Putin, the world of oil, it's pricing and control is about to shift "bigley" as Donald Trump would say. To understand how the world got to this point, this Series clears a lot of the fog and misunderstanding surrounding the suject.
The Epic of Black Gold is a landmark six-hour series designed to enlighten and provide some answers to one of the most important paradoxes of our time…Oil. It is key to everyday life on this planet, yet beyond a few experts, very few people really understand its story and the mechanisms of its economy.
The Industrial Revolution, powered by oil and other fossil fuels, is spiraling into a sporadic endgame. Once again, cheap oil floods the marketplace...but for how long?
The Epic of Black Gold starts with the topical facts concerning oil today so as to root the film in the present and show how important oil is in all fields of human activity. The introduction highlights the main themes to be developed in the series. The themes are closely linked with one another and encompass a wide range of different issues…from science and technology to geopolitics and political strategies. The series then continually moves from the past to the present, from the pioneers at the end of the 19th Century to today so as to recall the stages of a great adventure with tremendously high stakes.
Black Gold ends on a question about the future of Oil and what's next. There remain unexplored and unexploited reserves of oil all over the planet, yet it is not a renewable resource and will approach extinction sometime in the not too distant future. For the time being, Oil will remain an essential element of the world economy for many years to come.
Black Gold introduces us to many of the world’s most important independent oil experts. Our cast includes: C.J Campbell, world renowned geologist and depletion analyist, Matthew Simmons, American investment banker and US Administration oil advisor, James Akins, Former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Yves Cochet, former French Minister for the Environment and Michael Meacher, former British Minister for the Environment.
Each expert brings his own expertise to the table and the result is not so pretty…we are running out of oil. Our world economy is in for a serious shock…A Crude Shock that is expected to take place within the first thirty years of our new century.
Experts include: Colin Campbell (Ireland) founder of ASPO, an association studying the state of oil resources. Nate Hagens (USA) studying economy and environment at Vermont University. Bruce Robinson (Autralie) economist. Edward Schreyer (Canada) expert in hydroelectric technology. Pierre Radanne (France) former head of ADAME. Hervé Hempf (France) author of several books dealing with political ecology. All these people from different circles tell us about what tomorrow’s world will be made of.
Our mandate for the production of “The Epic of Black Gold” the History of Oil Supply and Demand has taken us on a world whirlwind of exploration, researching the diverse territories, individuals, corporations, political events, film archives and influential sources for content related to the subject. In making the Series, we have amassed volumes of footage and materials related to all of the oil consuming and producing nations of the world. Telling the story has been difficult and sometimes death defying; but having accomplished the goal, we have now turned to the very unique and serious business of trying to understand the key points and features of why we’re running out, and where we go from here.
It continues to be front page news, but in many new and surprising ways. We are confident that the cost of crude can only escalate in the coming months and years, and our experts tell us why and what can be expected. Not a pretty picture, but a picture just the same. We have managed to engage our experts because their story needs to be told…and they want to tell it, honestly and straightforwardly.
Elements in the Series include:
Observations of everyday life from countries around the world.
Chinese traffic jams as well as consumption in California.
Heat waves and their greenhouse effect.
Baku , a collapsing oil-based economy.
Black tides and oil-polluted beaches.
Chavez’s devastation of the Venezuelan economy.
Saudi and Middle East unrest.
Stock exchanges in turmoil.
The Iraq quagmire.
Siberian transcontinental pipelines and their inefficiencies.
Black Gold reveals a lesson in natural history concerning non-renewable forms of energy, our total dependence on them, and the potential probability of world economic decline, based on the facts concerning oil depletion.
1. The Golden Age of the Majors
Episode 1 tells the story of the epic black gold rush and its oil kings. Rockefeller and his empire, The Standard Oil Company was, among others, the models for today’s Major Companies. For the Better…Oil broke through to the industrial world with the commercialization of the internal combustion engine and the genius of Henry Ford with his popular Model T. For the Worse…Oil became the blood of war as it increased one-hundred-fold the destructive power of WWI, replacing cavalry with motorized troops. Oil made it so much easier to dominate.
America , in the Roaring 20’s, became the great leader of the world’s industrialized countries. They were not only the first producers but also the first consumers of the world’s black gold. To stay in control, the American Majors started to diversify their supply. England, which still had its powerful Empire, did the same.
Purchase Oil:1 The Golden Age of the Majors $150.00
2. Oil Nationalism
By the 1930’s most of the consuming nations were in the Northern Hemisphere, yet the vast reserves of black gold were mostly to be found in the Southern regions of the Planet.
The Majors, in their quest for black gold, resorted to methods worthy of the ruthless diggers of the California Gold Rush and likewise, they competed fiercely with each other. The seven biggest formed a cartel called The Seven Sisters, putting an end to their fratricidal struggles, steadying the markets and last but not least, fairly sharing the oil cake among themselves.
Innovations in geological exploration led first to Mexico and then Venezuela, who, like the others in their region, were still colonies or unstable, with easily corruptible, unsteady governments.
Venezuela became the first exporting country in the world. Its leaders became puppets of the Anglo-American Majors. Venezuela got 10% of the revenue, mostly channeled into the hands of the corrupted ruling class. Little if any of these revenues made their way down the food chain of the impoverished nation. Strikes erupted in 1925 and 1938, the very first to take place in the world of Black Gold.
Rebellion and outburst also took place in Mexico, ending with a real blow when President Cardenas nationalized Mexican Black Gold, heralding the struggles to come as the third-world producing nations attempted to wrangle control of their national wealth from the Majors.
In these early years, production of Black Gold in Iran and Iraq remained in the hands of the English Companies under similar conditions.
The importance of Black Gold during WWII was five times greater than in WWI. These reserves were to become an essential advantage for the Allies during WWII as Germany’s eventual defeat was in certain part brought on by their significant lack of supply.
Purchase Oil:2 Oil Nationalism $150.00
3. Oil as a Weapon
After the World Wars, the industrial countries of the world experienced unprecedented growth. Cheap oil, and more specifically, Middle Eastern oil was flowing to meet the demand. Saudi Arabia became America’s reserved domain through a holding of American companies called ARAMCO.
At the same time the third-world producing countries experienced a nationalist awakening. Oil became a weapon in their struggle for economic independence and political freedom. Venezuela paved the way by imposing the 50-50 sharing of revenues rule on the Majors.
Iran tried to follow their action, but The Anglo-American Oil Company refused to cave in which led to revolution and the flight of the Shah. In 1951, the new Prime Minister, Mossadegh, nationalized the oil fields; and the Majors boycotted their production. After two years of economic depression and chaos, Mossadegh was deposed and the Shah re-instated…a setback for third-world control over their reserves.
The next warning shot at the Majors was dealt by Nasser, the Egyptian President and Hero of the Arab World who decided to nationalize the Suez Canal and control the flow of Black Gold on its way to Europe. There was panic in Paris, London, Frankfort, etc. The first oil crisis. A Franco-Anglo-Israeli Military operation failed to stop him.
At the same time the Europeans tried to free themselves of the cartel of the Majors. Mattei, head of the first Italian National Oil Company, tried to bypass the Majors and deal directly with the producing nations. His plans were cut short. He died under unknown mysterious circumstances.
The real rebellion took place in the early 60’s with the creation of OPEC, the brainchild of Juan Pablo Perez of Venezuela and Tariki of Saudi Arabia. Characterized as “an aggressive conglomeration of camel drivers’ emirates and banana republics” by the Washington Post in 1960, OPEC was expected to last only a few short years, but last it has.
Their dream was to make Black Gold a means of development for the Third World. OPEC reached its peak of influence in the early 70’s with the admission of Libya and Algeria at the time of the Yom Kippur War when Black Gold shot up five times its existing price in a matter of months, throwing the world into financial turmoil…putting an end to 30 years of prosperity in Europe. There was an outburst of joy in the Third World, but that was to be short-lived.
Purchase Oil:3 Oil as a Weapon $150.00
4. Oil Gone, a Time of Hope or Despair?
Late into the 70’s the Crisis seemed to have been reversed, but there was another problem in development…The Islamic Revolution caused the downfall of the Shah of Iran. National Oil production collapsed and many of the OPEC countries took advantage of the situation to jack-up prices.
The Iran-Iraq war worsened the situation and oil started to become a precious commodity with the intervention of the spot market, a day-to-day free market that sent the price of crude skyrocketing. It was no longer a formal business and speculation ruled. The industrial countries reacted favorably by reducing consumption and creating energy saving technologies. The dollar fell.
With the fall of the dollar, the OPEC countries found themselves in a conundrum, falling revenues, and the economic collapse of massive development plans aimed at creating third-world economies less dependent on the profits flowing from Black Gold.
The Third World Dream of the oil producing countries to preserve, protect and enhance their economies had turned into a very private club of feudal, dictatorial regimes and pseudo-democracies. At its origin, there were five countries: Venezuela, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia followed later by Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador and Gabon.
Ironically most of the OPEC members, with completely different interests, are being ravaged by violent, internal social unrest. An unrest that continues to haunt the Western Powers, spawning waves of terrorism that continue to threaten the long march of industrialization and the vision of globalization.
The Industrial Nations had technologically and economically ‘turned the corner’ and found themselves once again on the positive side of the oil issue.
Purchase Oil:4 Oil Gone, a Time of Hope or Despair $150.00
5. Oil, The Beginning of the End
What will the role of oil be tomorrow? What will it be replaced with? Some experts believe that there is enough to keep the world chugging along for another three hundred years! Others claim that volume of world reserves will start falling in the next generation and that demand will continue to far outpace supply.
The irony of history is, of course, that it has been the world’s auto industry, the major cause of oil consumption that has finally started to press for new technologies that operate on new, renewable resources. The Industrial Nations have paid dearly for Black Gold and in many cases squandered its consumption and ignored the need to develop renewable resources at a faster pace.
Sadly it has been the Oil producing States of South America and the Middle East who could be the final losers in The Epic of Black Gold. Their failure to democratize as nations and effectively manage the great wealth that oil has created for them has left them with economies that function to a lesser degree today than ever. They have squandered their resource and left their peoples behind, unable to function and compete in an ever-changing world.
The Epic of Back Gold: "God gave them the oil, we paid them for it. They squandered the revenue, we over-consumed the resource". –James Akins, Former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Purchase Oil:5 Oil. The Beginning of the End $150.00
6. The After-Oil Era
The oil-based world is dying but the new one is not yet born. Oil is a non-renewable source of energy, and really, someday it will all be gone. Yes, we are all aware of it, but we hardly believe it, and we seemingly refuse to act to face this obvious truth. We wouldn’t be the first civilization to witness its self-destruction, knowing that collapse is inevitable, but not capable of doing anything about it. This is denial of sorts with serious consequences. The Mayas and other past cultures did the same thing. Many think human beings are smart enough to invent new technologies to save themselves. Problem is that the new technologies may not be the real reason that we advance. One thing is certain, and the experts will tell us, we won’t live the same way. Attitudes, lifestyles and values will need to shift along with the incorporation of the new technologies. This philosophical finish to the series takes us on a parallel hypothesis, recognizing the value of the new technologies, but searching deeper into the psychological changes society must undergo to make it beyond Black Gold.
Purchase Oil:6 The After-Oil Era $150.00
The Epic of Black Gold Series Parts 1-6
The Series introduces us to the actors, the witnesses, and the narrators. Members of OPEC, politicians from the industrialized and producing countries and oil company executives. Each player on this stage presents his own version of the story and contradictory points of view are presented in a balanced fashion.
This Film is licensed for Academic Library, Classroom Screenings, and Closed Digital Streaming
Series Purchase Oil: The Epic of Black Gold 1-6 $450
The Black Gold Series is a 21st Century chronicle...uncovering the complex mechanisms of supply and demand...revealing the devious ploys of OPEC’s members...showing how the original “dream” of its founders has been transformed into an appalling display of waste, misfortune and terrorism.
How and why has Black Gold influenced our lives? What were its origins? How can its exploitation be linked to history? Who played an important role? These are just some of the questions ‘The Epic of Black Gold’ attempts to bring to light.
Written and directed by an award-winning international team of dedicated documentary filmmakers, Black Gold presents a tale of conflict AND co-operation between Western and Third World powers that influences the daily lives of every person on the Planet.