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Managing the Exploitation of Natural Assets: Lessons for low income countries


  • Paul Collier
  • Anthony J Venables


This paper provides an analytic review of the upstream aspects of the exploitation of natural resources: the assignment of ownership rights, taxation, the discovery process, extraction, renewability, and clean-up. It sets these issues within the principal-agent framework. It proposes that the present common system whereby governments sellextraction rights prior to discovery through signature bonuses is likely to be socially costly, since the sale of rights occurs at a stage where irreducible risks generate a severe discount. It also proposes that the present common system whereby governments sell extraction rights by means of negotiated deals might disadvantage governments relative to more transparent and competitive systems such as auctions. While the paper is primarily analytic, it also briefly reviews African experience, suggesting that both high commodity prices and the low value of discovered assets per hectare imply major opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Collier & Anthony J Venables, 2008. "Managing the Exploitation of Natural Assets: Lessons for low income countries," OxCarre Working Papers 011, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:011

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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph, Mawejje & Lawrence, Bategeka, 2013. "Accelerating Growth and Maintaining Intergenerational Equity Using Oil Resources in Uganda," Research Series 167526, Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).

    More about this item


    Exploitation; natural assets; natural resources; principal-agent framework; ownership rights; taxation; discovery process; extraction; renewability; signature bonuses; negotiated deals; auctions.;

    JEL classification:

    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development


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