National Oil Companies: The Nationals are Coming

The ultimately unsuccessful attempt by the Chinese National Oil Company to buy Unocal of California was remarkable not only because the bidder was Chinese, but also because it was a national oil company not an international giant. The national oil companies are really exploring for deals, access to resources and markets too.

The World Today Published 1 October 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 4 minute READ

National oil companies are suddenly all over the news. The Chinese outbid their American competitors Chevron for Unocal, but the deal was quashed by political opposition in Washington. Just a few weeks later, another Chinese company, China National Petroleum, bought PetroKazakhstan, a Canadian company with fields in Kazakhstan, for roughly $4.2 billion.

Companies like Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell have historically held great sway in many of the world’s most unstable states. These giants were able to use their connection to western power centres such as Washington and London to win access to and help develop national oil resources.

National oil companies, however, are starting to explore this niche as well. Such companies have succeeded in getting deals to develop oil and natural-gas reserves in states where private companies have had less access.

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