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Pre-1960 concession agreements gave way to production-sharing contracts that eventually came to dominate international exploration-production agreements, even though strongly resisted by the Western petroleum industry when first introduced in Indonesia. Political-economic conditions prevailing at the time no longer supported concession agreements, whether the international oil community liked it or not, and they practically vanished from the world scene. The production-sharing contracts that replaced them provided the incentive for heavy investments in risky oil ventures while allowing host governments to retain better control over their oil resources, and they offered greater flexibility in designing contractual formulations that gave the governments access to increasing amounts of windfall profits, which is what the tug-of-war between international oil companies and host governments is all about.
This article discusses the forces set in motion through the recent rise in crude-oil prices, focusing on Iraq, to set the stage for a discussion of other oil-producing countries.
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