In This Review

The Russian Oil Economy
The Russian Oil Economy
By Jennifer I. Considine and William A. Kerr
Edward Elgar, 2002, 360 pp

Russia matches Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer of oil, and it may soon rival Saudi Arabia as the world's largest exporter. But then again, it may not. This book by two Canadian economists tells the story of Russian oil production from its beginnings in the 1890s, through its forced development under Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev, its serious tribulations under Leonid Brezhnev, its sharp decline under Boris Yeltsin, and finally its recent revival under Vladimir Putin. The oil industry provides an excellent window on the transformation of Russia from a command to a quasi-market economy, especially since oil and gas are Russia's most important exports and Moscow's biggest source of revenue. The authors are agnostic about the future of Russian oil, despite huge proven and potential reserves. The industry remains a playground for Russian politics, and infirm property rights and extensive licensing requirements leave doubts about whether sufficient capital and technology, necessarily in part foreign, will be invested to realize Russia's great potential.