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NOCs 1 – IOCs 0

State-owned energy companies have oil and gas reserves and, increasingly, their own technology and funds for producing them. What does big oil have? Tom Nicholls writes

Whoever coined the term supermajor should have kept some superlatives in reserve. Certainly, following a highly profitable period, oil companies rank as some of the biggest private-sector corporations. The world's largest oil firm, ExxonMobil, recently leapfrogged General Electric to become the US' biggest company by market value. BP, the second-largest oil company in the world, is the UK's biggest stock by market capitalisation. Together, they are valued at over $0.6 trillion. Yet when it comes to oil reserves – the lifeblood of an oil company – these industrial giants are dwarfed by the heavyweight national oil companies (NOCs). Saudi Aramco towers above all comers (see Figure 1). It is f

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