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International oil companies (IOCs) have an odd and uncertain relationship with the countries in which they are headquartered and do business. At least in the West, they are often viewed with suspicion, requiring a strenuous and sometimes futile public relations effort to counteract.
Nothing could be less true of the national oil companies (NOCs) of the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Generally speaking, these oil goliaths enjoy a prestige in their home countries that is unmatched by any other entity. Quite often they are the countries’ most generous and most reliable employers. Moreover, they benefit from national pride, of which they are symbols. This is largely true throughout the world, even though the great era of nationalization was long ago. It holds true even if the companies are inefficient, poorly run or stifled by corruption. Because of the money they produce for the state, unbusiness-like attributes can be overlooked and forgiven.
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