1 Edwin Drake drilled a well in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, which is often
credited as the world’s first. The Drake well, however, produced very little oil.
2 With a less masculinist and more nationalist cast, Machel Montano sang the
lyric with David Rudder in “Oil and Music” in Montano’s Flame On album
(2008). I am grateful to Marc White for his assistance in tracing the phrase.
3 “Este libro versa sobre una novela que no existe. Y no hay en ello ninguna
híperbole. No se da en Venezuela una novelística del petróleo, como, por
ejemplo, está presente en el ámbito hispanoamericano una novelística de la
revolución mexicana” (Carrera [1972] 2005, 27).
4 The photographer titles this section “Oil Wells, Kuwait.” Oddly, the section
titled “Oil, Baku, Azerbaijan” shows pipes, valves, rigs, and no oil at all.
5 “Cracha noir. . . . C’est du charbon. . . . J’en ai dans la carcasse de quoi me
chauffer jusqu’à la fin de mes jours” (Zola [1885] 1968, 37).
6 “Greffes” (Zola [1885] 1968, 133).
7 “Bête mauvaise . . . la guele toujours ouverte, qui avait englouti tant de chair
humaine!” (Zola [1885] 1968, 442).
8 Appel, Mason, and Watts (2015a, 10) refer to representations that reduce oil to a
“mere metonym” for modernity, money, geopolitics, violence, and commodities.
9 “Oro se engendra en tierras estériles y adonde el sol tenga fuerza.” Carta-
Relacion del Cuarto Viaje de Cristobal Colon, Jamaica, July 7, 1503 (Pérez de
Tudela et al. 1994, vol. 3 1527; cf. Gómez 2008, 400).
10 For a more materialist reason, Sharife (2011) refers to a contemporary “coloniz-
ing” of the atmosphere through carbon pollution.
11 Crutzen and Stoermer (2000) first coined the term in a less widely circulated
12 I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for suggesting this comparison.
Chapter 1: Plantation Slaves, the First Fuel
1 From Joseph Gumilla to Governador y Capitán General, Guayana. Archivo
General de Indias (agi), Signatura Santo Domingo 632 (quoted in Gumilla
1970, xvii n3).
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