When sorting through the rankings of the World’s 25 Biggest Oil Companies and looking at who controls and influences the likes of ExxonMobil, Statoil, Rosneft and Pdvsa—one thing becomes clear: no industry leader has more sway, has twisted more arms or made more deals than Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin’s influence begins with Gazprom (#2 on the list of biggest oil and gas producers) and Rosneft (#15). Russia’s biggest natural gas and oil producers may be publicly traded, but a majority of shares are held by the Russian government, and thus overseen by Putin. Forbes first investigated Putin’s use of Gazprom as a political tool back in 2006 and his hold on the company—which has a near monopoly on selling gas to western Europe—has only strengthened since then. The same goes for Rosneft, to which Putin recently appointed his long-time deputy and energy tsar Igor Sechin as chairman.
Putin is also influential in the interworkings of Lukoil (#18), which does not have any government ownership but was formed by a former Soviet deputy oil minister, Vagit Alekperov, who is now worth $13.5 billion.