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.