Top 3 oil documentaries look at the boom and bust nature of the petrochemical industry

Oil is the lifeblood of our modern society. The search for what is known as black gold has evident and hidden dangers. Once oil is found it can bring rewards and heartache to those connected with it. RTD has a series of oil documentaries that look at the pros and cons of oil extraction, and how it affects society. Here are the top three:

1. Sex and the Oil City 

The agricultural heartland of North Dakota has been changed overnight by the discovery of oil. The population of small sleepy farming towns of the Midwest has exploded. The sudden influx of workers has brought with it the seedy side of life. The documentary Sex and the Oil City highlights the bars and brothels that provide entertainment for the predominantly-male workforce. Along with the riches the oil business brings, it also harbours the seedy side and an increase in crime and violence.

2. Cold Rush

In the frozen Russian Arctic, a different kind of oil exploration is going on. The Prirazlomnaya platform is a self-contained floating town and is the subject of the documentary Cold Rush. The platform is Russia’s first to exploit the untapped oil riches below the Arctic Ocean. Everyday life on board is gruelling and hectic as the 200 people onboard pump thousands of tons of oil a day into huge tankers.


One of the most controversial new techniques used by the oil and gas industry is fracking. The use of pressurized water to force oil and natural gas to the surface has, for some become an environmental nightmare. The documentary Frack Us looks at the ecological impact on water sources, and the people living close to the newly-dug wells.

These and more oil documentaries below: