FROM ITS EARLIEST DAYS the production of crude oil in the United States has been widely dispersed among numerous producers. Although the concentration of domestic crude production has been rising as the result of mergers and other causes, it still remains well below the levels of oil-producing countries elsewhere. Among the factors that have combined to bring this about is a legal principle not present in most other oil-producing lands: the private ownership of subsoil mineral rights. A philosophic principle that has emerged in the development of Western civilization is the right of the individual to own property, including the ownership not only of the surface land but of what lies below. Where the subsoil mineral rights are the property of the state or the ruler, as in the Middle East, the obtaining of concessions has involved negotiations only with the governing body. But in the United States, the right to withdraw oil must be negotiated with individual private property owners whose number is legion.
KeywordsFederal Trade Commission American Petroleum Institute Stock Ownership Refining Capacity Interstate Commerce Commission
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