The Economist points out that national oil companies (NOCs) manage over 90% of the world's oil. The largest oil companies, according to Wikipedia, are all government-owned and in places where freedom is suppressed at best and non-existent at worst. The list rated by oil reserves owned follows:
- Saudi Arabian Oil Company
- National Iranian Oil Company
- Qatar Petroleum
- Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (United Arab Emirates)
- Iraq National Oil Company
- Gazprom (Russia)
- Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
- Venezuela Petroleum (owner of Citgo)
- Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
- National Oil Corporation (Libya)
- Sonatrach (Algeria)
- Rosenft (Russia again)
The Petrolstates have already used oil to sway things their way. Russia has used Gazprom to pressure Ukraine not to drift to far West, to press reforms in Transnistria, and keep Germany supporting Russian foreign policy goals. Domestically petrol dollars are used for infrastructure improvements but can also be used for ill. Venezuela's oil money is financing social relief programs (good) but also Chavez's police state and funding FARC's terrorism and drug running. PetroChina's parent, the state-owned CNPC, is in bed with the Sudanese government (such as killing in Darfur and funding terrorism).
History in a way is repeating itself. In the 1980s the high price of oil extended the life span of the Soviet Union and blinded many observers to its imminent collapse. Some world watchers state that if oil were to "collapse" back to pre-2004 prices (~$35) countries like Venezuela and Iran would face economic ruin and civil unrest.