The World's 25 Biggest Oil Companies: Putin's Playthings

Meg

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The World's 25 Biggest Oil Companies: Putin's Playthings - Forbes

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.
But what of the great Middle Eastern oil and gas powers? Putin has had a rocky relationship with OPEC over the years. Russia is a not a member of the cartel despite the fact that until just recently it was exporting more oil than Saudi Arabia. In fact Russia has competed directly with Saudi Aramco (#1) for customers in the Far East. Last year, however, Putin said that Russia would start cooperating with OPEC “OPEC is sometimes irritated by us as we, not being a member of the organization, produce more oil, which influences international crude oil prices,” said Putin. “But we will coordinate our work with OPEC.”

Putin tried, and failed, five years ago, to get natural gas giants Qatar Petroleum (#17) and the National Iranian Oil Company (#3) interested in forming a gas version of OPEC. That was before the U.S. shale gas boom changed the face of global gas supply.
 
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