Bolivian Oil and Natural Gas under State and Private Control, 1910-2010


  • Herbert S. Klein Stanford University; Columbia University
  • José Alejandro Peres-Cajías University of Barcelona



Bolivian oil, nationalization, oil and gas


Since the 1920 discovery of oil in Bolivia, the country has experimented with varying systems of private control, monopoly state ownership and even mixed state and private ownership/rental of petroleum and gas fields. The aim of our analysis is to explain why these varying patterns of ownership occurred over time and to describe how they affected production in this industry. The analysis suggests that nationalizations have been successful insofar as they took advantage of previous private investment which, meanwhile, underscores the success of the legislation for opening up access to attract private investment. This relative success of the different legal frameworks permits us to understand why the state has been changing from one scheme to another over time. Some partial explanations are offered in order to understand why these schemes could succeed with such regularity.