On an Azerbaijan hillside, gas seeps from oil deposits and spontaneously ignites. Close by a sacred flame, symbol of divine power, has burned in a Zoroastrian temple for a thousand years.

In the 20th century, the mysterious black fluid on which the flame feeds has been the maker of a very different world. In 1991, after being defeated in the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein set fire to the oil fields of Kuwait.

Oil has brought many benefits to society and it has been at the center of economic conflict, political struggle and war. Environment consciousness is challenging its rise.

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Alexandra Bruce

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