A study of the oil industry in its modern development from the 1850s to 1973. During this period the industry underwent significant changes in terms of its productive expansion, the diversity of its products, its role in general production, its corporate organisation and in terms of its significance to the very reproduction of advanced societies.
The examination of the oil industry focuses on a political economy of its historical expansion. The thesis uses a Marxist theoretical framework to examine issues related to oil production as well as synthesising the elemental features of oil production into a structured conceptual model of the oil industry.
The thesis divides the analysis of oil between chapters dealing with economic and political concerns in the context of historic epochs. The economic components of the thesis deal with the capitalist development of oil, its relationship with other sectors of production and consumption and an assessment of its role in economic growth as a whole. This provides the basis for the subsequent politically focused analyses.
The political chapters deal with two primary issues, including the state response to the monopolisation of the oil industry and the effect of the expanding importance of oil on political relations.
The analysis of the monopolisation of the oil industry provides an opportunity to study the relationship between the state in a regulatory function and the subsequent constraint on oil industry autonomy. The study of interstate relations focuses in turn on the effect of expanding oil production on the economic interests of states, in their support for the reproduction of capital in their domains.