Social Scientist. v 5, no. 54-55 (Jan-Feb 1977) p. 49.


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BIPLAB DASGUPTA

World Oily Development^ and India

REGENT YEARS have witnessed a radical, unforeseen transformation in the world oil market. Until very recently the world oil industry was dominated by a group of seven oligopolistic major international oil companies, who were collectively known as ^majors'. They researched, explored, and produced oil, then refined, transported and marketed it. They fixed oil prices, and acted as the intermediaries between the countries selling and buying oil. They knew everything there was to know about the oil industry, and tried their best to keep this knowledge to themselves. The majors were the oil industry, and no country or government in the less developed parts of the world, oil producers and consumers alike, could risk antagonizing these vast corporate entities. This is no longer the case. The fixing of oil prices is now the prerogative of the oil producing countries. Most of the oil production in East Asia and elsewhere has been nationalized. A great deal of oil is now sold by way of bilateral deals between oil producing and consuming states. OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is now a major force, not only in the oil trade but in the world economy as a whole, and the success of OPEG in shifting the terms of trade in favour of raw material producers through collective action has enthused other raw material exporting countries—particularly those producing copper, tin



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