Ever since the 1970s, a small number of national oil companies (NOCs) have dominated the world supply of oil and other hydrocarbons. Despite the huge influence that NOCs have on political economy, systematic scholarship remains surprisingly thin. I examine the factors that explain the wide variation in the strategy and performance of NOCs and survey the literature that has suggested the many ways in which NOCs play pivotal political and economic roles in resource-rich countries. As we look to the future, the fate of NOCs hinges on the price of oil, which may be eroded as new supplies (largely outside the control of most NOCs), such as deep water and shale oil, affect global markets.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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