The article explores the key trends in R&D and innovation activities of the world’s largest oil & gas companies through the lens of dynamic shifts taking place in the competitive landscape of the global energy sector. The first area, where the author sees significant changes, relates to the appearance of the new powerful players in the technological domain of the world oil and gas industry. He draws attention to the growing roles of national oil companies and multinational oilfield service firms as increasingly important investors in R&D and innovations. These developments are analyzed in the context of the overall competitive positioning of Western-based supermajors whose technological dominance in the industry has never seriously been challenged before. Another significant change, noticed by the author, relates to the new technological priorities set by the world’s largest oil & gas companies for the foreseeable future. Two major sets of technologies are becoming increasingly important as strategic areas for investment by the industry giants. One of them, low-carbon technologies, reflects the dramatic evolution of the ‘Big Oil’ attitude to the so-called Energy transition. In contrast to a largely negativist (or at best ‘window-dressing’) approach to climate agenda, visible just a decade ago, most oil & gas giants have recently adopted individual low-carbon strategies driven to a large extent by the significantly increased pressure from the powerful institutional investors and the growing influence of the negative public opinion. The second top technological priority relates to the changing digital agenda in the oil and gas industry. It reflects the transition of the industry leaders to the next generation digital technologies (including internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics) but most importantly to a systemic approach in digital transformation contrasting with traditional ‘piecemeal’ IT projects with limited operations coverage. The changing innovation management mechanisms are also considered by the author as one of the key trends in technological domain of the world oil and gas industry. Specific focus is devoted to the formation of the corporate innovation ecosystems, including various R&D and innovation collaborations with different innovation actors (business partners, professional research centers, universities and governments organizations) and the connected vast spread of open innovation-based instruments working within these alliances.
The paper examines the structure, governance, and balance sheets of state-controlled banks in Russia, which accounted for over 55 percent of the total assets in the country's banking system in early 2012. The author offers a credible estimate of the size of the country's state banking sector by including banks that are indirectly owned by public organizations. Contrary to some predictions based on the theoretical literature on economic transition, he explains the relatively high profitability and efficiency of Russian state-controlled banks by pointing to their competitive position in such functions as acquisition and disposal of assets on behalf of the government. Also suggested in the paper is a different way of looking at market concentration in Russia (by consolidating the market shares of core state-controlled banks), which produces a picture of a more concentrated market than officially reported. Lastly, one of the author's interesting conclusions is that China provides a better benchmark than the formerly centrally planned economies of Central and Eastern Europe by which to assess the viability of state ownership of banks in Russia and to evaluate the country's banking sector.
The paper examines the principles for the supervision of financial conglomerates proposed by BCBS in the consultative document published in December 2011. Moreover, the article proposes a number of suggestions worked out by the authors within the HSE research team.