Monday, July 19, 2010

A Poignant What If Senario

What if BP were a state-owned oil company? How would that effect our relationship with one of our closest allies? China, Iran, and Russia happen to own their own oil companies. Ben James pointed us towards this article from the Washington Post that takes a look into a topic that can quickly become an international crisis.

"Humor me and picture what would happen if BP were owned by the British government. We would be facing a situation in which a foreign government would be directly responsible for the ever-worsening spill on our domestic shores. The United States and Britain have had arguments before, and the nationalistic vitriol coming from both sides would be 10 times worse as issues of blame, recovery costs, national pride, domestic security, and economic competition are endlessly debated between leaders, economists, and cable pundits.

That's still the rosy scenario, because at least Britain is an ally. There are plenty of countries that are not, and they happen to own their oil companies -- Venezuela, China, Iran, and Russia being among the biggest. These petroleum-rich countries are placing more importance on their nationalized oil companies as a way to ensure a steady supply to guard against growing domestic demand and changing market conditions.

We're already seeing potential hotspots, and the United States isn't the only country that should be worried. Chevron and Rosneft (owned by the Russian government) will begin drilling in the Shatsky Ridge of the Black Sea at the end of 2011. The Black Sea is bordered by Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine -- countries that, to put it lightly, don't always get along. Any substantial accident would be seen as a Russian oil company contaminating its oft-slighted neighbors. Cue the international crisis.

Continue reading over at the Washington Post.


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