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This paper provides a general introduction to the evolution and nature of alliances in the international exploration business. There is a particular focus given to the key principles that are needed to underpin a successful alliance, especially the nature of the behavioural style required from the participants. The assertion is made that these behaviours run counter to our industry’s history and experience. Change is therefore not easy to achieve or to maintain. There are however examples from the project and technology fields that show attitudes are changing and there are also grounds for encouragement in new oil company/service sector relationships; however both in this field and in that between the private sector and the national oil companies, there is further scope to capture the benefits that would flow from the successful application of a collaborative alliance model. This remains a challenge and a potential prize for the future.

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