Meet the oil world's marginal producers.

A cheat sheet for the news.
May 10 2006 11:56 AM

The Little Guys of the Oil Business

Meet the "marginal producers."

(Continued from Page 1)

Some 400,000 bpd will flow through Azerbaijan toward the Mediterranean by the end of this year via the newly opened Baku-Ceyhan pipeline; as many as 1 million bpd are expected by 2009. While another war over the enclave is unlikely, even low-level fighting there could threaten the pipeline, which passes within 10 miles of Nagorno-Karabakh's northern border.

What's more, the market power these states now enjoy may well breed new political turmoil, as increased investment and inflows of cash give competing domestic factions more lucrative spoils to fight over. In the Republic of Congo, a country that produces a little over 240,000 bpd and is already plagued by ethnic unrest and threats of civil war, high energy revenues have fueled rampant corruption. In recent years, an estimated $500 million have changed hands there in black-market oil trading. The state-owned oil company SNPC has sold hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of cut-price oil to private businesses with ties to the government. The country faces threats from southern-based rebel groups who hope to oust President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and win a greater share of the new wealth. Rich offshore reserves have fueled maritime disputes with some of the country's neighbors.


Conflicts in some of these states also increase tensions between the most powerful consumer nations. The United States is currently leading efforts to impose international sanctions on Sudan in response to government-supported violence in the country's Darfur region. Sudan is expected to produce about 500,000 barrels of crude per day by the end of this year. More than half its oil exports flow directly to China, which has blocked sanctions on Khartoum in the past and threatens to do so again.

The tight oil market has given energy companies, particularly smaller independents, new incentives to scramble for contracts in less familiar states. To protect their market shares and to profit from rising prices, these firms have little choice but to accept the risks that marginal producers pose for their investments—and for the industrialized economies that are increasingly dependent on their product.

Oil production data from International Energy Agency annual figures for 2005.



The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.


See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
Sept. 30 2014 11:25 AM Naomi Klein Is Wrong Multinational corporations are doing more than governments to halt climate change.
The Vault
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 AM Thomas Jefferson's 1769 Newspaper Ad Seeking a Fugitive Slave 
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 30 2014 11:42 AM Listen to Our September Music Roundup Hot tracks from a cooler month, exclusively for Slate Plus members.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 11:38 AM Tim & Eric Brought Their Twisted Minds—and Jeff Goldblum—to This Bizarre Light Bulb Ad
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.