Soviet Oil and the Third World
Whenever we talk about oil we usually think of the Middle East. This is only natural; the Middle East accounts for a third of the world’s crude oil production, and for three-fifths of world oil exports, in addition to owning more than half of the world’s proved oil resources.1 But the Middle East is not a country, it is a region containing a group of countries. If we take individual countries into account, the United States and the Soviet Union emerge as the two largest oil-producing nations of the world.2 Ever since the birth of the modern petroleum industry in the 1850s these two countries have almost always been at the top of the league of the oil-producing countries.3 What differentiates them is their high rate of self-consumption (unlike the Middle East which despite its enormous oil wealth consumes only 3 per cent of world oil production), which leaves no exportable surplus — in fact, a growing deficit in the case of the United States, and a comparatively small surplus in the case of the USSR. Hence, their impact on trade in oil is much less than proportionate to their production.
KeywordsMiddle East Socialist Country Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Economist Soviet Export
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