Historically, the world’s biggest oil producers closely guarded their role as operator of their own fields — convinced they alone could deliver the engineering necessary to extract their oil on time and on budget. Increasingly, however, over recent decades those producers have been ceding that role — opting in many cases to manage their assets at arm’s length, and allowing the world’s increasingly sophisticated oilfield services companies to deliver cost-efficient production and, crucially, the oil-field innovation that Big Oil has long assumed it alone could deliver. The speed and manner in which this has occurred varies somewhat by geographic market.
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