Ownership and Control of Oil: Explaining Policy Choices across Producing Countries.

Author:Filis, George

Ownership and Control of Oil: Explaining Policy Choices across Producing Countries, by BIANCA SARBU. (Routledge, Taylor Francis, 2014) 204 pages, hardcover, $165.00. ISBN-10: 0415725992, ISBN-13: 978-0415725996.

This book examines the different policies that have been employed by oil producing countries in their oil upstream sector. It identifies the factors that influence government decisions about how much control to exercise over the oil industry, paying particular attention to the role of the NOC (National Oil Companies).

The book starts with a chronology of the ownership and control of the oil upstream industry. The first chapter provides important information and the historical context of the development of the oil upstream sector. It discusses the development of the IOC (International Oil Companies) and NOC and it sets the themes that will be repeated throughout the book. The author nicely identifies the research gap and the research question and clearly positions the book in the literature. The road map at the end of the chapter is also very useful and well structured.

The second chapter focuses on upstream sector policy in the oil industry. The author starts by discussing the different policy-making processes, depending on the political systems under which the oil sector operates. The book provides a very interesting distinction between the policy-making process in parliamentary and congressional systems versus the centralised political systems. Furthermore, the author exposes the complexity of the sector's political economy with operational decision-making on top of policy-making in the context of three different models, namely the corporatized, the pure budget and the hybrid. In addition, there is a discussion of the Norwegian model, which separates further the decision-making into policy-making, strategy-making, operational decision-making and monitoring and regulation. In the second part of this chapter, the author expands on upstream sector policy, focusing on the distinction between ownership and control. In this section, the author discusses how the economic performance of the sector may change depending on who exercises the control (i.e. state versus private). This particular section provides a one-sided view, though, as it expands on the disadvantages of the NOCs, while the potential disadvantages of the IOCs are not explored. Furthermore, there is no discussion on the economic upsides when control and ownership belongs to...

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