Dinosaurs at the Tar Pit: Big Oil as Road Kill on The Hydrocarbon Highway?

From The Times (UK), more news on the decline of Big Oil in favour of government-controlled national oil companies in big producer countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Venezuela. The share of the world’s oil reserves controlled by the big Western oil companies, such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil, has fallen to less than 10 per cent, compared with 70 per cent in 1978. As the article notes:

“…In 1978, these companies together held roughly 70 per cent of world reserves,” Wajid Rasheed, the author of The Hydrocarbon Highway, says. “Today, there are ‘five sisters’: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ChevronTexaco and Total and their reserves amount to approximately 10 per cent of world reserves.”

Reserves in countries such as the United States and Britain have been sharply depleted while “resource nationalism” has led national governments in other producer regions to nationalise their oil assets, to adopt new sharing agreements or to eject Western companies altogether.

ExxonMobil, the largest of the “five sisters”, has estimated reserves of 11.8billion barrels of oil. BP, which is to report annual results tomorrow, holds 9.8billion. Such figures pale in comparison with some of the big national oil companies: Saudi Aramco, the state-controlled producer in Saudi Arabia, claims to have 264billion barrels, about a quarter of global reserves.

Furthermore, much of the world’s oil controlled by these national companies is the easiest and cheapest to produce, Mr Rasheed argues. Saudi oil, on average, costs only about $2 per barrel to produce onshore, compared with $26-plus per barrel for oil produced from Canada’s bitumen-rich oil sands.”



This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008 at 2:01 pm and is filed under Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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About This Blog
Wildcats & Black Sheep is a personal interest blog dedicated to the identification and evaluation of maverick investment opportunities arising in frontier - and, what some may consider to be, “rogue” or “black sheep” - markets around the world.

Focusing primarily on The New Seven Sisters - the largely state owned petroleum companies from the emerging world that have become key players in the oil & gas industry as identified by Carola Hoyos, Chief Energy Correspondent for The Financial Times - but spanning other nascent opportunities around the globe that may hold potential in the years ahead, Wildcats & Black Sheep is a place for the adventurous to contemplate & evaluate the emerging markets of tomorrow.