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Among the great books about the oil industry, a neglected classic is The Offshore Imperative: Shell Oil’s Search for Petroleum in Postwar America by Tyler Priest (2007). In 1998, Priest was hired by Shell Oil to write a comprehensive history of the company. However, budget cuts caused the book project to be scrapped. Priest decided to use the research and interviews that he had collected to write his own book about the story of Shell’s offshore exploration, and a fascinating story it is. Because the international majority shareholders of Royal Dutch Shell did not want the American entity to compete with its other companies, Shell Oil had to confine its operations to U.S. territory. Most of the easy oil had already been discovered, and the best hopes seemed offshore.

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