Publications: Notes at the Margin

Saudi Arabia: Destroying the Market for Oil (June 12, 2023)


Shareholder motions calling for increased attention to climate change, offered at the annual meetings of the world’s largest publicly owned multinational oil companies, all suffered defeat in 2023. Not surprisingly, environmental advocates were disappointed and angry. Some may fear for our survival.


Those concerned for our planet should take heart, though. Saudi Arabia is singlehandedly destroying the oil market. The policies adopted after Prince Abdulaziz became oil minister have made it impossible for most companies to invest safely in oil exploration. Only the dominant public companies—principally the five remaining multinationals and one or two Chinese firms—have the financial resources to continue, barring the others being able to hedge against the financial risks linked to the Saudis’ erratic market behavior.


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