Isabelle Rousseau

Latin America's national oil companies, created at various times during the twentieth century, have each evolved in a different way. The two main companies – Petroleos de Mexico (Pemex) and Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) – provide excellent illustrations of the rich diversity of organizational and industrial development. Many factors – such as the importance of earth quakes – explain the diversity.
Nevertheless, the role of governments during the period of nationalizations is key. It was then that the relationships between the owners of natural resources, public operators, regulators, the finance ministries, and international operators were defined. This process shaped the companies' institutional structures (path dependency) and set the parameters for future entrepreneurial dynamism. The path by which each of these enterprises developed continues to affect their culture as evidenced by the recent reforms which attempted to restructure Pemex and PDVSA.

Thirty years after the nationalisation of hydrocarbons Algeria’s oil wealth seems to have disappeared judging by its absence in the country’s indicators of well being. In Algeria oil led to happiness for a few and sadness for many. The absence of controls over oil revenue led to the industries downfall. Since 2002 Algeria is again seeing oil wealth. The increase in the price per barrel from 30 to 147 dollars between 2002 and 2008 provided the country with unexpected revenue permitting it to accumulate funds estimated, in 2009, at 150 billion dollars. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, returned to a devastated Algeria to restore civil order, unexpectedly benefited from this price increase. Thus, in addition to national reconciliation he was able to offer Algeria renewed economic growth. However, given that the wounds of the 1990s are not entirely healed and the illusions of oil wealth have evaporated this unexpected return of financial abundance raises concerns. To what ends will this manna be put ? Who will control it ? Will it provoke new violence and conflict ?