When, fresh out of graduate school, I caught on with a major over-water drilling contractor, we seldom strayed from the Gulf of Mexico. And beyond that, the operators teamed up far less frequently than they do today, preferring to conduct their business by their lonesomes.
Now, however, the operating companies match up around the globe. And whereas state-owned companies seldom teamed up with their publicly owned counterparts in my time, all that has changed. Today, consortiums are frequently mixes and matches of companies of different sorts of ownership and from different parts of the world.
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal carried an article about a progressively cozier relationship between France's Total
Now, President Hugo Chavez is looking for help in boosting his country's waning heavy oil production. Beyond Total and CNPC, companies such as Chevron
And then there are discussions being held for Total to help CNPC develop a portion of Iran's huge South Pars gas field. In addition, in partnership with Malaysia's state-owned company, the companies won the rights for work on the Halfaya oil field during Iraq's round of bidding this month.
Finally, the two companies have been looking into developing China's largest gas field for a while now. The field, called the South Sulige, is technically challenging, although Total CEO Christophe de Margerie believes that the companies will proceed with the difficult and expensive project.
What does this mean for investors? I have long thought that Total is one of the more solid companies operating around the world. With CNPC its almost constant companion, I believe that the French company is well-positioned to benefit from China's deep pockets and unquenchable thirst for oil and gas.