Rex Tillerson

Back in September I approvingly quoted Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil.

High oil prices and perceptions of soaring industry profits have prompted many producing countries to give national oil companies more power to extract richer fiscal terms and greater control over resources, pushing out international players, Rex Tillerson, chief executive of US supermajor ExxonMobil, said.

Such policies will lead to tighter oil supplies as ExxonMobil and other majors stop deploying their technology, know-how and capital in some of those countries, he said.

“If there’s no room to share it then there is no role for us – it’s a simple as that,” he told business and political leaders at a meeting in Calgary, Reuters reported.

And I will do so again:

ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson, speaking in the wake of last week’s dire warnings from the International Energy Agency about unsustainable growth in energy use, sought to warn of the dangers of resource nationalism.

Talking about oil supply tightness, Tillerson told reporters during this week’s World Energy Congress in Rome that: “It’s not a resource problem. The world has plenty of oil.”

Instead, “it is an issue of whether or not the investment dollars, technology and the know-how to develop those resources in an efficient and reliable way…is going to be brought to bear on those resources”, he argued.

Tillerson talked about such nationalism as being counter-productive for the resource-rich countries where the people miss out on revenues and opportunities.

Amongst all the talk about peak oil, increased energy demand, dwindling hydrocarbon reserves, and dependence on unstable regimes which appear daily on the TV, radio, and in the international press, the opinions of Rex Tillerson do not enjoy any special prominence over those of journalists, minor politicians, environmental activists, and layman commentators.  Yet insofar as he is able to describe in a few brief sentences the exact problem faced by the world’s energy consumers, there are few who deserve to be listened to more keenly on the subject.

I have a feeling that Rex Tillerson’s speeches will be treated kindly by historians as they dig through the archaeology of the Oil Age.  By contrast, the most vociferous of contemporary commentators, which includes most politicians and the international media, will likely be noted for having held opinions and voiced expectations that were not flattered by events.