“[There is] a general economic maxim: public [government] resources are really private, owned and exploited by a political elite, while private resources are really public, owned and managed by a multitude. Government-owned resources do not ‘belong to all of the people’ and allow ‘self determination;’ they belong to none or a very few.”
– R. Bradley, Foreword to G. Yeatts, Subsurface Wealth: The Struggle for Privatization in Argentina (Foundation for Economic Education, 1997), pp. xv–xvi.
The recent reform of Mexico’s Constitution to allow private investment (up to $20 billion in production-sharing agreements) still leaves state-owned PEMEX with a legal monopoly for oil and gas development inside the country. But it is a start at reform that may turn into a deregulatory, privatization dynamic.
More, indeed, awaits to open the energy sector internal and external competition and to foreign investment in any amounts:
1) Competition to PEMEX in all oil and gas areas should be legalized;
2) PEMEX shares be allocated to the country’s private citizens;
3) Subsoil mineral rights should be assigned–with deed of title–to the (private) surface owners of land.…
[This post by Guillermo “Billy” Yeatts (see profile at the end of the post) originally appeared at MasterResource on April 30, 2010. It is reprinted in response to the move of the Middle East toward more open, democratic, and modern societies. Can private ownership of oil and gas assets be far beyond?]
The history of oil and gas production in Latin America has been characterized by a continuing tug of war between the state as owner of the subsurface (Spanish colonial tradition) and private producers in pursuit of profits. Private participation in the industry has been limited to brief periods and restricted to specific phases of oil and gas production.
The typical pattern is that foreign oil and gas companies are allowed into a country to locate and initiate production.…