It doesn't take long to realize that the structure of deals within the world of energy is changing at lightspeed. Where once, most of the world's oil was developed by private companies headquartered in the U.S. or Europe, there now are all manner of public-private or public-public partnerships taking shape.

For instance, until a couple of years ago, the development work in Venezuela's Orinoco River basin was performed by a half-dozen of the world's big integrated oil companies, including ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and France's Total (NYSE:TOT). But then President Hugo Chavez decided to nationalize everything in sight, stripping the companies of their operating positions in favor of PdVSA, the state-controlled oil company.

Now it appears that Chavez is teaming PdVSA up with other state companies from around the world. For instance, PdVSA and Vietnam's state-run Petrovietnam are conducting talks about jointly developing the basin's heavy oil.

In addition to the likely Vietnam partnership, it appears that Venezuela could also be involved in separate Orinoco deals with the China National Petroleum Corporation -- perhaps through its PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) subsidiary -- and a Russian consortium. The reported objective of all this activity is to increase the country's production capacity by as much as three million barrels a day in the next few years. Good luck, Hugo.

And speaking of Russia, that country apparently is headed in the other direction, according to a Wednesday Wall Street Journal article entitled "Russia Revives Privatization." As I told you just last week, Vladimir Putin recently held a confab with top executives from many of the world's biggest oil companies. The purpose was to discuss partnerships to develop the country's gas-rich Yamal Peninsula, where Gazprom had been expected to go it alone.

Among the companies included in the chilly gathering near the Arctic Ocean were Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) and StatoilHydro (NYSE:STO). Indeed, following the meeting, Statoil's CEO Helge Lund touted his company's experience in places like Yamal. As he said, "One thing is to talk about an Arctic development and another thing is to actually do it. We've done it ..."

Clearly, we haven't seen all the changes that will occur among the forms that energy deals will take. Nevertheless, I continue to favor ExxonMobil, the biggest and strongest of the public companies, but StatoilHydro and its arctic expertise has a full five-star rating in Motley Fool CAPS. I'd suggest that you add your assessment on both companies, if you haven't already.

StatoilHydro and Total SA are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have financial interests in any of the companies named here. He does welcome your comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy capable of braving the Arctic Ocean.