International Conference/Colloque international
organized by/organisée par IRICE (CNRS, France),
Supported by /avec le soutien de TOTAL
Paris-La Défense, 18-19, September/Septembre, 2006
The relations between oil producing countries and oil companies
in the XXth century.
Les relations entre pays producteurs et compagnies pétrolières
au XXè siècle
Call for papers/Appel à communications
Following the 2003 conference on “National Oil Companies” (publication by the end of 2006), a second international symposium, held in September 2006, will be devoted to the history of the relations between oil companies (in the widest sense of the term) and oil producing countries (irrespective of geographic area). This theme still resonates into the current period and a longitudinal approach may help to understand the evolution, the (dis)continuity, the specific character of the complex relationship between buyer and provider.
It is of course possible and desirable to include the pre-war period in the period under consideration. The price-setting system is one of many elements to be taken into account, starting with a mechanism focused on the USA (New York Plus and Gulf Plus), which gradually evolves in order to adjust to the growing importance in terms of output of Middle East Oil fields. More particularly, it is advisable to re-examine the case of Mexico and the first significant nationalization resulting in the creation of the Pemex (1938). Similarly, Venezuela is the leading actor in the 1948 decision to share profits (fifty-fifty). Conversely, over a period of thirty years, the system agreed upon by the cartel of the so-called 7 sisters will ensure a fair degree of price stability. The post-war era will progressively alter those initial parameters. First, the USA will become a net importer. Attention is thus redirected outside the USA, an attitude which the Major oil companies had already adopted and which Independent companies soon adopted in their turn. The 50/50 agreement with Venezuela thus becomes a reference for those oil producing countries wishing for a more equitable redistribution of the revenues from oil extraction. The first significant oil crisis breaks out in Iran with the nationalization implemented by Dr Mossadegh (1951/53). But the winding up of the crisis in 1954 again brings about a 50/50 sharing of profits, heralding a major geopolitical change in a world grown more complex (one could also give due consideration to the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956 and the first rationing in Europe). More and more, American Independent companies show their might by joining the Iranian consortium. They will go even further by discovering and investing in oil fields in the Middle-East, in the Sahara, in Lybia… During that period, another major evolution occurs in the setting of posted prices (prix postés), which now have to take account of the clout wielded by the Middle-East with its cheap crude. From that moment on, quotation is determined before shipment from each oil producing area, with the final price including freighting costs. Three factors will subsequently profoundly affect the oil market and therefore the relationships between oil producing countries and oil companies: the generalization of the practice of sharing profit 50/50, the growing assertiveness of national companies and the creation of OPEC. Following the creation of the latter Organization, the practice of sharing profits 50/50 is gradually abandoned and the field tilts toward oil producing countries. Independence gives Algeria full control over a flourishing oil industry. The end of the 1960s coincides with a novel practice in the Middle-East: contracts with companies whereby a company offers its services and some funding without actually holding a lease. The first Oil Crisis emphasizes the extent to which oil has become a strategic weapon for oil producing countries (the 1967 war had already demonstrated this, but on a lesser scale). The 1970s are no doubt the years when the balance of power is radically altered in the favour of oil producing countries, with the ever greater clout of determined countries such as Libya. The second Oil Crisis confirms that change. The period on which the XXth century ends remains a complex one: from excess production, the world passes on to strong tensions resulting from the growing demand from emerging countries that do not produce oil themselves, such as China or India. OPEC, weakened by non-OPEC production, is not ignorant of the fact that the major oil reserves are still in the Middle-East. The Russian giant has awoken and may influence quotations. The rhetoric of some oil producing countries is reminiscent of that of pre-war Mexico. More than ever, the complex and necessary relationship between oil producing countries and oil companies is the core concern.
The September 2006 conference will combine economic, geopolitical and technical approaches. Our main concern is to give priority to the case of European countries and to that of oil companies within that geographic area. Depending on submissions, it will be more or less possible to open up the area of study so as to include other continents.
The organizers will provide room and board on location. A limited number of travel expenses can be subsidized.
-> Submissions (from half a page to a page) should be sent in French or in English before May 15th, 2006 to:
Directeur de recherches au CNRS
Postal Address : Château de Vincennes, 1 avenue de Paris, 94300 Vincennes, France
Château de Vincennes
1 avenue de Paris
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