The Secret of the Seven Sisters: The History of the Oil Wars
April 6, 2013 Inside Story / Al Jazeera & Fault Lines / Al Jazeera
Since the discovery of oil, the powerful oil companies known as the "Seven Sisters" have sought to control the global balance of power. They have supported dictatorial monarchies, opposed the creation of OPEC, profited from the Iran-Iraq war and the US invasion of Iraq. Since their founding at a secret meeting at a Scottish castle in 1928, the Seven Sisters have always present -- and almost always came out on top. They have never ceased to plot, plan and scheme.
"We waged the Iran-Iraq war and I say we waged it, because one country had to be used to destroy the other. As they already benefit from the oil bonanza, and they’re building up financal reserves, from time to time they have to be bled."
-- Xavier Houzel, an oil trader
DOHA, Qatar (April 5, 2013) -- On August 28, 1928, in the Scottish highlands, began the secret story of oil. Three men had an appointment at Achnacarry Castle -- a Dutchman, an American and an Englishman.
The Dutchman was Henry Deterding, a man nicknamed the Napoleon of Oil, having exploited a find in Sumatra. He joined forces with a rich ship owner and painted Shell salesman and together the two men founded Royal Dutch Shell.
The American was Walter C. Teagle and he represents the Standard Oil Company, founded by John D. Rockefeller at the age of 31 - the future Exxon. Oil wells, transport, refining and distribution of oil - everything is controlled by Standard oil.
The Englishman, Sir John Cadman, was the director of the Anglo-Persian oil Company, soon to become BP. On the initiative of a young Winston Churchill, the British government had taken a stake in BP and the Royal Navy switched its fuel from coal to oil. With fuel-hungry ships, planes and tanks, oil became "the blood of every battle".
The new automobile industry was developing fast, and the Ford T was selling by the million. The world was thirsty for oil, and companies were waging a merciless contest but the competition was making the market unstable.
That August night, the three men decided to stop fighting and to start sharing out the world's oil. Their vision was that production zones, transport costs, sales prices - everything would be agreed and shared. And so began a great cartel, whose purpose was to dominate the world, by controlling its oil.
Four others soon joined them, and they came to be known as the Seven Sisters - Exxon, Shell, BP, Mobil, Texaco, Gulf and Chevron - the biggest oil companies in the world.
Episode 1: Desert Storms
In the first episode, we travel across the Middle East, through both time and space. Throughout the region's modern history, since the discovery of oil, the Seven Sisters have sought to control the balance of power.
They have supported monarchies in Iran and Saudi Arabia, opposed the creation of OPEC, profiting from the Iran-Iraq war, leading to the ultimate destruction of Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
The Seven Sisters were always present, and almost always came out on top. Since that notorious meeting at Achnacarry Castle on August 28, 1928, they have never ceased to plot, to plan and to scheme.
Episode 2: Blood, Dollars and Oil
The first part of this special series can be seen from Thursday, April 4, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2000; Friday: 1200; Saturday: 0100; Sunday: 0600; Monday: 2000; Tuesday: 1200; Wednesday: 0100; Thursday: 0600.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.