The secret of the seven sisters: Are we ready?

There are things that do not make sense about the world. How does the world operate, really? (Those in the know will tell you that the UN is the most complex organisation when it comes to decision making). 
Sam Kebongo
Sam Kebongo

There are things that do not make sense about the world. How does the world operate, really? (Those in the know will tell you that the UN is the most complex organisation when it comes to decision making). 

The UN aside, it is ironic that the same group of countries that have always professed and even ‘exported’ democracy and human rights are the same ones guiltier than others in breaking the same (if colonisation, slavery and shameless meddling are anything to go by).

Clearly the principles that govern the world on paper are just that… on paper. The need for resources is the main driver in the world. In conformity with modernity, the persuasions and perspectives may look different, but modernised as we are, the bottom line is the same, it never changed really; the strong rule and use the weak.

Al Jazeera TV recently aired a documentary; ‘The secret of the seven sisters’. It was so intriguing and gave insightful, if curious, perspective into the relationships between the global economies, from both political and historical perspectives, with oil as the driver. It also clearly indicates that Africa is in the cross hairs of some very powerful predatory forces.

Three men had an appointment at Achnacarry Castle, Scotland on August 28, 1928, to plot, plan and scheme on how to control the world’s oil. They represented the world’s major oil firms that were fighting for the oil resources and market.

A little background: This was the period when demand for oil had peaked. It was known as ‘the black gold’ and succeeding events made oil even more golden. Britain (the world’s major power then) had just, on the initiative of Winston Churchill, switched its navy’s 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.  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 they 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 – the biggest oil companies in the world.

The Middle East, where oil was first discovered, became the theatre where this played out. Throughout the region’s modern history, since the discovery of oil, the Seven Sisters have sought to control the balance of power by supporting regimes favourable to them and cutting down those who do not and their countries in recent times. Since that notorious meeting at Achnacarry Castle on August 28, 1928, they have never ceased to plot, to plan and to scheme

At the end of the 1960s, the Seven Sisters, the major oil companies, controlled 85% of the world’s oil reserves. Today, they control just 10%. New hunting grounds are therefore required, and the Sisters have turned their gaze towards Africa. With peak oil, wars in the Middle East, and the rise in crude prices, Africa is the oil companies’ new battleground.

In some African countries that are major oil producers, petrol shortages are chronic. In fact, they are forced to import refined petrol, their refineries are obsolete – a paradox that reaps fortunes for a handful of oil companies.

The companies encourage corruption to become a system of government. This scenario is not unique to oil, we also produce coffee but import it back refined, at a higher price, of course.

But new players like China have now joined the great oil game. The game has changed.

The Scotland meeting was held when Africa was totally in the clutches of colonialism which was effected through a similar partition at Berlin in 1887. Oil and gas has been found in African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Exploration is ongoing in other countries ( including Rwanda).

As all this is happening, are we getting ready? The infamous ‘oil curse’ phrase comes to mind. It need not be so.

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