The bad boys of oil

Most of the world's new production is expected to come from just a few nations. That could spell big trouble for Big Oil and consumers alike.

Shifting fortunes
Shifting fortunes
Antoine Halff, head of energy research at Fimat in New York, said more deals are likely to involve a third party, like a smaller oil company from a developing nation, partnering alongside a major international firm to help it win access.

And of course, falling oil prices could also quickly change this new dynamic. If crude prices fall, then these countries will be forced to pump more oil -- requiring more capital and technical expertise -- to raise money for government budgets that have grown reliant on high oil prices.

"It's a cyclical phenomenon," said Halff, speaking of the growing trend toward nationalization. "But it's a long-term cycle, and it might not last forever."

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