Politics and World Oil Economics: An Account of the International Oil Industry in Its Political Environment

By J. E. Hartshorn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
By Way of Introduction

A t the beginning of July 1962, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries published resolutions calling for negotiations with the international oil industry to raise crude oil prices in the Middle East and to increase the revenues that governments there draw from the proceeds of the oil exported from their countries. This organization includes almost all the significant oil exporting countries in the world except Russia. No action was proposed about the price of oil from Venezuela, the other great exporter of the non-Communist world. But sales from Venezuela had for some time been languishing, partly because the cheaper and more profitable Middle East oil had ousted it from many markets. So an increase in the price and a reduction in the profitability, to the international oil industry, of Middle East oil would benefit Venezuela too, and help it to regain some of its lost markets.

Ten days later, in mid-July, a draft 'common energy policy' for the European Common Market was put before the Council of Ministers of the European communities. This was primarily, as its authors made clear, a policy for oil -- of which Western Europe is at present the world's greatest importing region, and on which it is steadily becoming yet more dependent. The provisions in this policy concerning coal and other fuels produced in Europe were secondary to its main purpose -- which was to set the terms on which Europe should seek, through oil, 'cheapness of energy and security of supplies'. It proposed a permanent inter-governmental committee to keep surveillance over prices and tonnages of oil imported into Europe; it suggested quite radical changes in the way that the oil industry is accustomed to sell most of its products; and it provided for the possibility of preference, for political reasons of security, to some sources of the oil it imports over other sources, over- riding commercial considerations. This was not a protective policy; it was simply one aimed to give the importing countries bargaining power

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