Oil multinationals of old admit powerless to influence prices

ROME, April 20, 2008 (AFP) – Oil-consuming countries and international oil producers acknowledged Sunday they can no longer influence oil prices, as a global gathering of the energy elite got underway in Rome. “In the 1970s, international oil companies (IOCs) controlled nearly 75 percent of global oil reserves and 80 percent of oil production,” said Paolo Scaroni, head of Italian petroleum group Eni.

“Now, IOCs control only six percent of oil and 20 percent of gas reserves, and 24 percent of oil and 35 percent of gas production. The rest is in the hands of national oil companies.”

With crude futures crossing 117 dollars per barrel in New York on Friday, producer countries such as Venezuela or Russia have less and less need of the old “majors” to help them develop their untapped reserves.

“This doesn’t mean IOCs have completely lost their role and are set to disappear,” added Scaroni, whose apology for pulling out of Qatar in 2002 offered the perfect symbol of a profound shift in the balance of oil power.

“But it does mean that they need to profoundly rethink their business model in order to survive and prosper in the new oil and gas landscape.”

In his opinion, firmly shared by Royal Du