The following is from the Aug. 18, 2008, edition of The New York Times. Bruce Bullock, executive director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, provided expertise for this story.

As Oil Giants Lose Influence, Supply Drops


Oil production has begun falling at all of the major Western oil companies, and they are finding it harder than ever to find new prospects even though they are awash in profits and eager to expand.

Part of the reason is political. From the Caspian Sea to South America, Western oil companies are being squeezed out of resource-rich provinces. They are being forced to renegotiate contracts on less-favorable terms and are fighting losing battles with assertive state-owned oil companies.

And much of their production is in mature regions that are declining, like the North Sea.

The reality, experts say, is that the oil giants that once dominated the global market have lost much of their influence — and with it, their ability to increase supplies. . .

As the power and clout of Western companies erode, the world may become increasingly dependent on government-controlled entities for oil.

While some may be up to the task, like Saudi Aramco, others, like Petróleos de Venezuela, suffer from bureaucratic inefficiencies and political interference.

"We are going to depend on the Venezuelan, the Nigerian or the Iranian oil companies for the future of our oil supplies," said Bruce Bullock, the director of the energy institute at Southern Methodist University. "This is a troubling trend."


Read the full story.

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