The Oil Trap and Developing Countries

Earlier this week the New York Times took on the latest (sky-rocketing) oil prices and their geopolitical impacts in High-Priced Oil Adds Volatility to Power Scramble, but they missed the perspective of a key, equally vulnerable demographic – developing countries that import oil.

The article’s analysis centers on how oil prices are shaking up power dynamics, and the emphasis within the developing world is given to the instability and hostility of some of the most oil-rich locales (such as Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola). Other actors factored into the piece are wealthier countries that import oil or the big guys, like Russia.

This is the line that made me think twice about who was covered:

In many poor nations with oil, the proceeds are being lost to corruption, depriving these countries of their best hope for development.

What about the poor nations without oil – what of the $100 per barrel (which we’re nearing) for their development aspirations?

As I’ve blogged before, the Center for American Progress has done some insightful original research on this front. To a handful of the countries for whom debt has been recently relieved, the value has been negated by the cost of importing oil. A barrel of expensive crude oil translates into a few cents at our pumps, but a few blows to the economy of the most impoverished developing countries.

Together, developing countries are expected to account for two-thirds of the projected growth in emissions by 2030. And the longer their development relies on oil, the dirtier it is, the more vulnerable their economies are, and the steeper their uphill battle will become (to cleanse and develop).

High-oil prices are most certainly adding volatility to progress, but for many, the scramble is quite literally for power (electricity, cooking fuel, transportation), and their circumstances must be taken into account as the post-2012, post-Kyoto negotiations begin in December (in Bali) – and in our own domestic legislation.

One Response to The Oil Trap and Developing Countries

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Senegal is one of the poor countries being hit. They’ve recently appointed an alternative enrgy minister (not sure that is the correct term) who plans to develove Senegal’s biofuels potential.