It was the business of oil that created the world’s first US dollar billionaire and changed the fortunes of many more. Since John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil became one of the world’s first mega corporations in the late nineteenth century, controlling the bulk of the market share of consumer petroleum fuels in the USA, the oil industry has demonstrated a predilection to amass. To sustain multibillion-dollar profits, industry–state alliances compete to control the global resource base, and its power over peoples. Pursuit of oil reserves has been a significant factor shaping global geopolitical dramas over the twentieth century. But in these dynamics, and the millionaires created as a consequence, millions of people have been placed on the margins of power, as the mega transnational corporations, national oil companies and smaller (but not insignificant) players seem to share the spoils. The extractive sector broadly and the oil and gas industry make up a huge section of the global economy. Business sources observe that the world’s top 20 extractive industries recorded profits of US$211 trillion in 2005, whereas US GDP in the same year totalled US$11 trillion (Cortese et al., 2009, p. 27).
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