Open Oil Book Sprint Started

Yesterday we began the Open Oil Book Sprint “How to Read and Understand Oil Contracts”. The event is brought together by NGO Open Oil ( and is intended to produce a book that can be used by anyone wanting to get an understanding of how oil contracts between Governments and oil companies are negotiated, what the pitfalls are, how they can be improved etc.

The Sprint Table

We are starting with a full crew of 10 contributors including contract negotiators, lawyers, and oil related NGO representatives from all over the world. Yesterday we spent the day planning the book and focused a lot on the first 3 sections. We were also visited by Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International and World Bank manager of programmes in Africa and Latin America.

Lucy Wallwork swapping into her temporary role as (extraordinary) chef for the event.

After a good days planning we enjoyed a great meal prepared by chef (and Open Oil projects manager Lucy Wallwork). We also have 3 other Open Oil staff to assist with logistics and founder Johnny West is here to contribute to the content.

This morning we were up bright and early to get into the actual writing. I think everyone is over the jet lag since we didn’t push it too hard last night and the environment here is very relaxing.

The book is going to be a challenge because it needs to be readable by anyone and the group here are experts in this field. For this reason we will employ some of the Open Oil staff that are not experts in this area to read and revise the content to make sure it fits the target audience. We also have a designer/illustrator onboard – Lynne Stuart – up from Capetown, South Africa to design illustrations, icons, the cover and the internal contents of the book.

Update: Almost at the end of the first day of writing and we have 25,000 words and good mock ups of the design. A lot of time is going to have to be spent making the content easy to understand and so we have already started this process of editing on the content in the first section. 

Dinner together…probably the most important part of any Book Sprint.

Update 2: We are part way through the 3rd day and all sections are more or less complete with 41,000 words. We have focused clean up on the first section and tomorrow we form more groups and start cleaning up the rest of the book. We have one full day with everyone tomorrow and then half the crew leave on Friday but this should be fine.

Susan Maples reworking a section. Sooner or later you have to get analog.

Update 3: Day five and almost done. Last bits of clean up and one rewrite of a section that was not complete until this afternoon. We have had many group break outs to discuss sections and chapters and no new sets of eyes left. One helpful process has been printing out sections and cutting up with paper, marking, and re-ordering.

The guesthouse to the Schloss where we are staying (2 hours outside of Berlin).

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