In This Review

Russian Oil Supply: Performance and Prospects
Russian Oil Supply: Performance and Prospects
By John D. Grace
Oxford University Press, 2005, 304 pp

Russia, as Grace notes, is an "ally and opponent" of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and the same for oil consumers -- in other words, it is a "fulcrum." Grace, a professional geologist and industry specialist, probes in depth how large and effective a fulcrum it is likely to be over the next 15 years. Because he believes that past practices directly impinge on present prospects, he takes the story back to the opening of the Russian oil industry in the late nineteenth century and then up through the development of the Volga-Ural basin, western Siberia, and, now, new regions. This is not bedtime reading, but it is entirely accessible to the nonspecialist. And it provides the most measured and comprehensive assessment available of Russia's near- to medium-term potential as an oil supplier. Grace builds his case first from a best-practice appraisal of the oil in the ground and then considers the industry's capacity to recover it, all in the context of how the state under Putin is bent on exploiting the golden goose. If Russia's status as an international actor increasingly involves oil, here is a very good place to begin understanding it.