What an excellent book. Imagine somebody — in this case Thane Gustafson — taking all those snippets of gas history you used to read about and turning them into a coherent, well-written narrative. The Dutch disease, Norwegian gas, the origins of Gazprom and Western Siberian reserves, the French decision to go nuclear, and much more. It’s all here. Every topic should have a book like this about it. Excerpt:
Kortunov’s importance as the founder of the Soviet gas industry and the originator of the gas bridge with Europe cannot be overstated. Without his vision and drive, organizational talent, and political skill, the development of West Siberian oil and gas might have been delayed by as much as a generation. Gas exports to Europe would have remained modest, for lack of sufficient ready reserves and a pipeline system through which to ship them. Above all, the rapid displacement of coal and oil by gas in the Soviet primary fuel balance — one of the last successes of the Soviet planned economy — would have taken much longer. By the beginning of the 1990s, when the Soviet Union fell apart and the Soviet oil industry with it, it was the gas industry, by then Russia’s most important source of primary fuel, that kept the Soviet cities heated and lighted, while oil was exported for desperately needed dollars. That was Kortunov’s legacy to the country he so ardently believed in.
Due out in January, you can pre-order your copy here.