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 XV
Seeking Their Own Petroleum

N ations that are self-sufficient in oil, as we have just seen, generate and may export their own embarras de richesse. But self-sufficiency in oil, to nations that do not possess it, appears a most enviable condition -- both to the less developed economies that visualize a new dynamo of cheap energy and even perhaps a commodity for export to bring them riches overnight, and to the developed economies whose dependence upon petroleum is inevitably increasing, and which may well yearn to secure command of adequate supplies. The countries that one picks out to illustrate such circumstances must be chosen arbitrarily. There are one or two such as Mexico and Austria, which have produced as much oil as they consume, but have been unable to take full advantage of their virtually complete self-sufficiency: others such as Canada and Brazil, which in practice fall well short of doing so, whatever their potentialities; and Argentina, which has recently succeeded in its autarchic quest.

Exploration for oil or gas is going on, today, in most countries in the world; and most countries can boast at least a trickle or a puff of their own. The continuing demand for new concessions or even for areas that other explorers choose to relinquish demonstrates to governments everywhere how worthwhile a gamble exploration seems to experts, even when oil isn't scarce. There are few other economic sectors where international capital can be attracted so easily. Most countries afford to any production that they can develop some degree of protection against competition from imported fuels -- and equally insert into concessions or exploration licences specific obligations to develop without delay any oil that is found. Most of the industrialized countries other than the United States and Russia have had to resign themselves to overwhelming reliance on imports. Some countries where oil has been found in impressive quantities, for lack of local markets, have quickly graduated into the ranks of the exporting countries. But in between there remains a

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