New Producer Contract Terms and Uncertainty: Lessons From the Recent Past

Heller, Patrick R.P.; Toledano, Perrine; Mebratu-Tsegaye, Tehtena; Mihalyi, David

The petroleum industry is volatile, and governments in “new producer” countries have operated at a significant information disadvantage when negotiating with international oil companies. This challenge is growing today; new producer countries face intensifying questions around whether to offer fiscal incentives to maintain investment in the face of 1) the pandemic-induced volatility in oil prices and 2) long-term questions about the future of the industry in the face of the climate crisis and the global energy transition.

This confluence of short-term and long-term uncertainty is prompting a reexamination of the narrative that once took hold in many new producer countries. The traditional story was one of linear progression from being non-producers to small levels of production to ultimately having oil and gas become a major economic contributor over the long term. This notion of progression was associated with a commonly held theory: After a country’s first major discovery, the geological risk that wells will be dry was expected to decrease. Countries could therefore shift from a position of having to grant tax breaks (and other concessions) to international investors, to taking a tougher stance in laws and negotiations for new projects going forward.

In this paper we examine whether this theory has been borne out in practice and make recommendations to support new producers in their navigation of the uncertainty associated with the energy transition.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Published Here
March 23, 2022