Market cycles, power politics and the latest North – South energy trade conflict
Williams, P. A.
Third World Quarterly
45 - 58
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Energy trade periodically aligns Northern importing - consuming countries against predominantly Southern producing - exporting countries. Conflict appears to follow a cyclical pattern, whereby Northern firms invest in developing Third World hydrocarbon resources to meet consumer demand until market conditions enable unilateral efforts by host sovereigns to augment fiscal take and ownership share and to impose output restrictions, thereby elevating prices and revenues. Although markets eventually correct themselves, major consuming-country governments, to the extent that seller's markets attributable to exporter actions harm short-term consumer welfare and alternative options for restoring buyer's markets are lacking, have varying incentives to support military intervention. Shifting market conditions and power balances suggest six ideal-typical energy trade conflict strategies. Finally, to the extent that exporting states succeed in converting higher hydrocarbon revenues into energy-intensive economic growth, co-operative phases within this conflict pattern could yield to increasingly zero-sum inter-consumer rivalry.