With Russia having passed Saudi Arabia to top the world's energy-producing nations, when the head of its private energy giant LUKOIL (OTC: BB: LUKOY) speaks, it may be a good idea for the world to listen. On Thursday, the company's President Vagit Alekperov candidly expressed his concern about the increasing power of state-controlled energy companies.
Alekperov's comments may be the result of increasingly pervasive rumors that the powers that be in Russia are getting ready to build a new state oil behemoth from the current assets of Rosneft. That company has ridden assets acquired from YUKOS, a bankrupt oil firm, to move past LUKOIL as Russia's biggest oil producer. The acquired assets came through a series of auctions organized by the state.
Now, if speculation is correct, the Russian government is preparing to launch another state oil company that would be larger than such publicly held energy giants as ExxonMobil
For its part, LUKOIL conducts operations across much of the world. In addition to Russia, it is busy in the Caspian area, Iran, Columbia, and Venezuela. It is 20% owned by Houston-based ConocoPhillips
But Alekperov's concern, along with a series of contentious moves by his country's government against Western companies of late, probably serves as ample indication that the energy scene in Russia will be a thrill a minute for years to come. And because the Energy Information Administration arm of the U.S. Department of Energy believes that the nation's production is running at about 9.4 million barrels per day (up nearly 60% in a decade) -- versus about 8.6 million daily barrels for Saudi Arabia -- Russian importance to the worldwide energy scene has become massive.
So, I urge Fools to stay plugged in on this one. While I won't contend that Russia's growing energy importance could be destabilizing geopolitically, I do believe that those with an interest in oil and gas investments should monitor the state's energy-related moves carefully.
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