S o far as possible, up to here, this book has sketched the behaviour of the oil business in an unreal isolation, as if oil companies lived and worked in a grey, neutral, logical world of economic men without a country. Some oilmen, perhaps, sometimes wish they did; and certainly this is as international an industry as has ever been built up. But for writer and reader the device has been one simply of convenience -- to trace some outlines of an industry that is complex enough in all conscience even before one pins the tracing back where it belongs, across a rich and colourful map of nations. Put back in their proper place, the outlines are harder to follow. They are almost lost within a more turbulent pattern, as the colours of nationalism show through.
The international sweep of this industry does not absolve it from living with governments, as every other industry has to; it only introduces the complication, which can have advantages but has disadvantages as well, of living with more governments than one. The oil industry is incessantly engaged in trade by sea and across frontiers, but its movement of bulk cargo around the world is only one of the simpler among its operations. It explores and produces, usually, on land: even offshore, it has not yet ventured far out beyond territorial limits. It processes and sells its products almost entirely for use inside national frontiers. Its relations with the governments of the lands where it does business vary according to the kind of society concerned and with oil's importance to any given economy. But the fact that an oil company is often not operating in one country alone, and may have a world-wide scatter of interests, tends to complicate the industry's relationship with each individual government.
Primary in every such relationship is the oil industry's role as a taxpayer of each country of which it is a commercial citizen. This is indeed the point where discussion of the industry's economic behaviour in