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  • BBC Four
  • 55 mins
  • Documentary

Three-part series that goes on a revealing journey through the world's oil-producing regions, beyond the familiar territory of the Middle East.

Now that the oil price appears to be rising inexorably at the pumps, newspapers are full of gloomy predictions related to our increasing addiction to perishable reserves of oil. Bill Cran's series takes a somewhat different approach.

We are in fact still amply supplied with oil on planet earth. The problem is that most of it lies in what we cosseted addicts regard as the wrong places. Getting enough oil to fill George Bush's SUV requires dealing with nasty governments or destroying the wilderness. But the relationship between oil companies, consumers and those who live where the oil is extracted is changing very rapidly. It is becoming possible for native populations to obstruct oil companies.

Cran's series leaves one with the feeling that there are no easy answers - but that, given the hysteria surrounding the subject, is no bad thing. It's also ravishingly shot.

3 episodes

1x01 The Pipeline

  • Series Premiere

    no air date — 55 mins

The Caspian Sea contains some of the largest untapped energy reserves on the planet and everybody wants a share. A 1,100-mile pipeline is being built to transport the Caspian's oil to the markets of Europe and North America.

1x02 The Wilderness

  • no air date — 55 mins

As the demand for oil increases, fragile wilderness areas across the world are being opened up to oil exploration and furious debate.

1x03 Rich and Poor

  • no air date — 55 mins

The discovery of oil is usually celebrated as a one-way ticket to wealth and economic growth. Yet evidence indicates that the presence of oil in a developing country makes life worse, not better, for most of the people who live there - particularly the poorest people.

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