Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique 2017 est une publication de l’Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes (Opalc) du CERI-Sciences Po. Il prolonge la démarche du site www.sciencespo.fr/opalc en offrant des clés de compréhension d’un continent en proie à des transformations profondes.

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.

Luisa Palacios

This paper studies the institutional transformation of Latin America’s oil sector. It discusses specific policy choices and the timing of reforms in this industry. Latin American countries present different models of openness and energy-sector dynamics, and allow for an analysis of the liberalization process from a range of points of view: that of an importer (Brazil), of a historically self-sufficient country (Argentina) and of oil exporters (Mexico and Venezuela). The degree of dependence on oil revenues has proven in general to be negatively correlated with the level of openness of the oil sector. That is, countries more dependent on their oil sector for foreign and fiscal revenues tend to be less liberalized and open to private investment. This principle also holds true in Latin America: oil importers and self-sufficient countries like Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil indeed have oil industries that are relatively more open to private sector participation than those of the oil exporters in the region (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico). However, different levels of openness exist within these general categories of importers and exporters. This paper will further argue that differences among countries in the same category are a function of the strategic and financial position prior to reform of their respective National Oil Companies (NOC), which is in turn related to the institutional evolution of the oil industries in these countries.