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Following OilFollowing Oil

Experiences and What They Foretell about U.S. Energy Independence

Thomas A. Petrie

Narrated by Stuart Appleton

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Oklahoma Press

Lessons learned from a remarkable career in oil and gas investment—and recommendations for future energy policy.

In a forty-year career as an oil and gas investment analyst and as an investment banker and strategic adviser on petroleum-sector mergers, acquisitions, and financings, Thomas A. Petrie has witnessed dramatic changes in the business. In Following Oil, he shares useful lessons he has learned about domestic and global trends in population and economic growth, a maturing resource base, variable national energy policies, and dynamic changes in geopolitical forces—and how these variables affect energy markets. More important, he applies those lessons to charting a course of energy development for the nation as the twenty-first century unfolds.

By the 1970s, when Petrie began analyzing publicly traded securities in the energy sector, the petroleum investment market was depressed. The rise of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pushed energy to the center of the national security calculus of the United States and its allies. Price volatility would continue to whipsaw global markets for decades, while for consumers, cheap gasoline prices soon became a fond memory. Eventually, as Petrie puts it, finding oil on Wall Street became cheaper than drilling for it.

Petrie uses this dramatic period in oil business history to relate what he has learned from “following oil” as a securities analyst and investment banker. But the title also refers to energy sources that could become available following eventual shrinkage of conventional-oil supplies. Addressing the current need for greener, more sustainable energy sources, Petrie points to recent large domestic gas discoveries and the use of new technologies such as horizontal drilling to unlock unconventional hydrocarbons. With these new sources, the United States can increase production and ensure itself enough oil and gas to sustain economic growth during the next several decades. Petrie urges the pursuit of cleaner fossil fuel development in order to buy the time to develop the technical advances needed to bridge the nation to a greener energy future, when wind, solar, and other technologies advance sufficiently to play a larger role.

Thomas A. Petrie , CFA, is Chairman of Petrie Partners, LLC, in Denver. He formerly served as a Vice Chairman of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and was Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch until its acquisition by Bank of America in 2009. Petrie co-founded Petrie Parkman & Co., a Denver- and Houston-based energy investment banking firm that merged with Merrill Lynch in 2006.


“A compelling story of lessons learned from experience that lead to the expectation of a strong future for the supply of energy in the United States.”

—George P. Shultz U.S. Secretary of State (1982‚Äì1989) and Chair, Precourt Energy Institute, Stanford University

“Tom Petrie’s insights, wisdom, and vision have guided a generation of key players and decision makers in the energy industry since the 1973 Arab oil embargo. In Following Oil, Petrie creates an important picture of the fascinating and unpredictable forces that have shaped the energy industry over the past forty years. At its core, this book is a superb portrait of how the ingenuity, courage, and risk-taking spirit of America’s wildcatters and the energy industry continue to shape geopolitical power dynamics.”

—Donald L. Evans U.S. Secretary of Commerce (2001‚Äì2006)

“The future of energy security in North America is more promising than at any time in the past forty years. Tom Petrie explains fully why that is so, basing his findings on his experiences during this period. If the United States is serious about a secure energy future, it will be because Tom Petrie’s sensible solutions have been embraced by those who produce energy and make policy.”

—John Hofmeister President, Shell Oil Company (2005‚Äì2008) and author of Why We Hate the Oil Companies

“When it comes to oil and gas, Tom Petrie is a pro. This book offers excellent observations on what happened in the global energy industry in the past forty years and why. In many cases Tom was critical to what happened and thus his insights are invaluable.”

—J. Robinson West Founder, PFC Energy

“For almost a half-century Tom Petrie has participated in the evolution of oil as a critical raw material. This book analyzes oil’s historical trajectory and provides valuable insight into what is likely to happen in the future.”

—Byron R. Wien Vice Chairman, Blackstone Advisory Partners LP

“Tom Petrie is one of the finest energy bankers of the past forty years. His book provides valuable perspective on the game-changing opportunities created by the recent dramatic increase in U.S. oil and gas production attributable to the new technologies developed by the energy industry.”

—Jay A. Precourt, Founder, Precourt Energy Institute, Stanford University, and Founder and Co-sponsor, Vail Global Energy Forum

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