Voice of the Marketplace

A History of the National Petroleum Council

978-1-58544-185-3 Cloth
6.12 x 9.25 x 0 in
312 pp. 21 line drawings.
Pub Date: 06/12/2002


  • Cloth $39.95
The National Petroleum Council (NPC) emerged out of the close cooperation between the petroleum industry and the federal government during World War II. An industry-financed advisory committee designed to work closely with the Department of the Interior, it enjoyed a remarkable independence from political or financial pressures. Including representatives of all phases of the petroleum business, the NPC could reach deep within the industry for information on vital issues. In the last fifty-plus years, the Council has evolved into a voice of the marketplace, analyzing conditions in the petroleum industry at the request of the government and publishing its findings in reports widely considered authoritative and useful.

Three uniquely qualified historians here chronicle the development and contributions of the NPC to both the energy industry and the American market. While technological advances, skyrocketing world demand, the rise of OPEC, and far-reaching regulatory initiatives have fundamentally transformed the petroleum industry's structure and operating environment, the National Petroleum Council has remained a reliable source of authoritative information. Joseph A. Pratt, William H. Becker, and William McClenahan, Jr., analyze the choices and strategies that have given the Council the adaptability and resilience to survive and remain important.

The authors look also at the actual reports generated by the Council—more than two hundred studies to date—and the impact they have had on both government and business. They examine the NPC's ability to tap information and personnel from all sectors of the industry and to fund from industry resources studies that would have exceeded the pockets of the federal government. They consider the way the Council has managed to encompass the varied viewpoints within a diverse, highly competitive industry, and particularly to bridge the sharp historical division between the "majors" and the "independents." Finally, the authors analyze the one political concern that has remained constant for the industry: antitrust.

This engagingly written book not only sheds light on the petroleum industry and its regulatory context, but also addresses the larger questions of the U.S. government's relations with the industries it regulates.

Kenneth E. Montague Series in Oil and Business History

Published by Texas A&M University Press