The problem with state-owned oil companies

In most of the world, oil is a bad mens’ business—and certainly not a business as you and I understand it here in Canada.

In most of the world, oil is a business that lines the pockets of some governments that are not our friends. Indeed, that’s the case for most of the world oil market. Per combined oil and gas production figures for 2014, three-quarters of the top twenty energy-producing companies are state-owned enterprises.

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So, who is in that top twenty list? For one, Saudi Aramco: the world’s largest oil company, the personal fiefdom of the tyrannical Saudi government—a global leader in executions, including by public beheading.

For another, try Rosneft—the Russian state-owned oil and gas company, property of the same government which infamously interferes in the free elections of democratic countries … interference which some experts believe could also happen here in Canada.

Number four on the list is the National Iranian Oil Company, a cash cow for a government that is currently crushing rallies and killing protesters calling for a free and democratic Iran.

I could go on and on, but you see my point. These are the kind of people state-owned oil companies around the world profit.

In Canada, we do things differently than many other nations. As Natural Resources Canada describes it, “Canada’s energy industries operate in free markets, where investments by both Canadian and foreign companies ensure an efficient, competitive, and innovative energy system.” That’s an energy system to be proud of—and in a world where oil profits too often fund the world’s worst human rights abusers, it’s an energy system we need more of. The world, as always, needs more Canada.