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The Wall Street Journal: The New Seven Sisters

Posted by WSJ.com Staff

The Financial Times writes that the world’s oil industry is dominated by a new group of “Seven Sisters,” a reference to the old lineup of oil giants that dominated the world before OPEC rose to prominence: Esso (now Exxon Mobil), BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Mobil (now part of Exxon Mobil), Gulf Oil (now split between BP and Chevron) and Texaco (now also part of Chevron).

The new Seven, per the FT, are Saudi Aramco, Russia’s Gazprom, CNPC of China (parent of PetroChina), NIOC of Iran, Venezuela’s PDVSA, Brazil’s Petrobras and Petronas of Malaysia.

All are state-controlled. A few are owned by governments that are less-than-friendly, if not downright hostile, toward the U.S. Many are flexing their “resource nationalism,” wresting control of lucrative oil and gas projects from foreign companies, including the old Sisters.

Together, the FT points out, the new Sisters control more than 10 times the oil reserves of the old Sisters. They produce more than twice as much oil as the old Sisters.

The new Sisters only lag the old Sisters in net income. But the new group will likely control the world’s production for decades to come, so they should make up that ground soon. And investors have already bid up their shares on the world’s stock markets, lifting the market capitalizations of the biggest New Sisters past those of most of their developed-world rivals. The Old Sisters may never make up that lost ground.

– Mark Gongloff

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