Pushing One’s Luck: Petroleum ownership and discoveries

May 2019 | 219

Authors: Christa N. Brunnschweiler, Steven Poelhekke


Does institutional change in the petroleum sector lead to more oil and gas ex-ploration and discoveries? Foreign ownership and investment in the sector has tra-ditionally been unrestricted. We document that this is no longer the case; foreign-domestic partnerships are the norm today. Tracking changes in legislation between 1867 and 2008 for a panel of countries, we show that switching to foreign ownership results in more drilling and more discoveries of petroleum than domestic ownership. Switching to partnership yields even more drilling, but yields fewer discoveries. Dis¬coveries, and the intensity and quality of exploration drilling, are endogenous to industry-specific institutional change.

JEL Codes: E02, O43, Q30

Keywords: discoveries, oil and gas, natural resources, institutions


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