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Empires of Oil: Corporate Oil in Barbarian Worlds by Duncan Clarke

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1Machiavelli’s prism

Having spent three decades in research and advisory practice on the global upstream industry – watching vast shifts in the oil game, the rise and fall of states, the comings and goings of oil companies, and paradigm changes in geopolitics – I have learnt to appreciate the virtues of ruthless objectivity. This, in turn, has led me to understand the importance of strategy in the global oil game.

This study suggests that the ways of “seeing” developed by Niccolò Machiavelli may be the best with which to observe the oil world. Our culture has, of course, given Machiavelli a bad press. The adjective “Machiavellian” carries negative connotations, having come to mean something akin to “devious, manipulative and untrustworthy”. ...

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