Crisis amid Plenty

Crisis amid Plenty: The Politics of Soviet Energy under Brezhnev and Gorbachev

THANE GUSTAFSON
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 388
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvjxh
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  • Book Info
    Crisis amid Plenty
    Book Description:

    Although the Soviet Union has the most abundant energy reserves of any country, energy policy has been the single most disruptive factor in its industry since the mid-1970s. This major case study treats the paradox of the energy crisis as an essential part of larger economic problems of the Soviet Union and as a key issue in determining the fate of the Gorbachev reforms.

    Originally published in 1991.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6054-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. MAPS AND FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. TABLES
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  7. ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
    (pp. xxiii-1)
  8. [Map]
    (pp. 2-2)
  9. ONE THE SOVIET ENERGY CRISIS AND THE PROBLEM OF REFORM
    (pp. 3-21)

    The Soviet economy will not be reformed soon. The experience of such command economies as Hungary and China shows how difficult and drawn-out an undertaking reform is, and there are as yet no conclusive successes to point to.¹ It is already clear that the same long road of trial and error awaits Gorbachev and the Soviet reformers.² This has produced two sorts of pessimism among Western observers. For the economist, Gorbachev’s reforms have not yet gone far enough, because they do not yet go to the heart of the command economy. For the political scientist, they have already gone too...

  10. TWO THE EVOLUTION OF SOVIET ENERGY POLICY, 1970–1988
    (pp. 22-62)

    Compared to Western industrial countries, the Soviet Union was slow to shift to oil and gas as the basis of its economy. Following World War II Soviet energy policy lagged in developing hydrocarbons; planners were reluctant to risk resources on exploration because they believed that oil and gas were scarce, high-cost fuels and would remain so.¹ As a result, the Soviet economy continued to run primarily on coal, peat, and wood.² It was not until the 1950s that Soviet leaders realized what a treasure trove of oil and gas they possessed.³ But once official policy changed in the late 1950s,...

  11. THREE ORIGINS OF THE FIRST SOVIET OIL CRISIS, 1970–1982
    (pp. 63-99)

    The Soviet Union is far and away the world’s leading oil producer. Its reserves, between 6.5 and 10.5 billion tons (more precise estimates are a closely held Soviet state secret), exceed those of any other country except Saudi Arabia and possibly Kuwait,¹ and many of the country’s most promising regions remain to be explored. There is no question that the Soviet Union will remain first in oil output well into the next century.

    Yet the Soviet oil industry has been in serious trouble for over a decade. Its afflictions run like a fault line through the landscape of Soviet energy...

  12. FOUR THE SECOND OIL CRISIS, 1982–1988
    (pp. 100-136)

    By the time Brezhnev died in 1982, the Soviet oil industry appeared to have contained the threat of a decline in oil output. Production still rose steadily, if far more slowly than in the late 1970s. But the appearance of stabilization was deceptive. The oil industry owed its growth mainly to the continuing transfer of development drilling capacity to West Siberia. The planners and ministers had failed to use the resulting respite to raise the oil industry’s efficiency, to reinforce its industrial base, to increase exploration and accelerate the development of new Siberian fields, or to improve infrastructure in and...

  13. FIVE THE SOVIET GAS CAMPAIGN, 1970–1988
    (pp. 137-181)

    Soviet gas policy has been one of the few real success stories of the Soviet economy in the last decade, but it has been a big one. In 1984 the USSR surpassed the United States as the world’s largest natural gas producer, and it will keep its lead well into the next century, thanks to explored reserves amounting to as much as 40 percent of the world total. Within the Soviet fuel balance, natural gas has overtaken oil as the USSR’s main energy source, and by 1990 it will supply more than 40 percent of all fossil fuel production (table...

  14. SIX INDUSTRIAL SUPPORT FOR THE OIL AND GAS CAMPAIGNS: THE INTERACTION OF DOMESTIC POLICY AND IMPORT STRATEGY
    (pp. 182-226)

    One of the most important reasons for the Soviet energy crisis has been deficient industrial support. Most of the equipment used by the Soviet oil and gas industries is obsolete in design and fabrication; deliveries are unreliable; and one-third to one-half of what arrives in the field is defective. These three problems together—obsolete technology, uncertain supply, and low quality—explain much of the low productivity of the oil and gas industries and the attendant consequences: excess manpower, unbalanced effort, and high costs.

    Business as usual, the reader may say, and a classic illustration of the command system at its...

  15. SEVEN THE SLOW MOVE TO CONSERVATION
    (pp. 227-262)

    The fundamental issue in Soviet energy policy is the same one facing the economy as a whole: Is it possible for a centrally planned system, originally built to manage forced-draft heavy industrialization, to operate efficientiy? By the middle of the 1980s the traditional supply-oriented approach to energy had reached a dead end. To continue meeting Soviet energy needs solely by boosting production while ignoring inefficient consumption, despite the rapid growth of natural gas production after 1980, meant climbing ever-steeper cost curves, with no end in sight. The task of conservation, surely, could no longer be ducked.

    Under Brezhnev, energy conservation...

  16. EIGHT SOVIET ENERGY EXPORTS: FROM FREE RIDE TO RUDE AWAKENING
    (pp. 263-288)

    As future historians look back on Soviet Russia in the last half of this century and describe the slow settling of the Bolshevik upheaval, they will undoubtedly stress as one of its principal features the country’s gradual return to the world economy. Its most extreme period of isolation ended soon after Stalin’s death in 1953, but it took another two decades for foreign trade to become a significant factor again in the Soviet economy. A symbolic threshold was crossed in the first half of the 1970s, when foreign-trade turnover (that is, imports plus exports) reached one-tenth the size of the...

  17. NINE EXPLAINING THE SOVIET ENERGY CRISIS: SYSTEM VERSUS LEADERSHIP
    (pp. 289-337)

    Two symbolic events, seemingly a world apart: in the spring of 1978 Brezhnev toured West Siberia to launch his emergency oil campaign; in the fall of 1985 Gorbachev toured the same region to announceperestroikain the oil and gas fields. But their main messages were not in fact so very different. More than a decade after Brezhnev’s crash response to the first oil crisis of 1977, after three successions and the start of a new leadership under Gorbachev, Soviet energy policy has remained remarkably constant. Despite the new rhetorical stress on conservation and the beginnings of economic reform, it...

  18. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 338-340)

    Any book about Soviet politics and policy written during the Gorbachev years is out of date before it reaches the printer, and this book is no exception. On 10 June 1989, at the opening session of the new USSR Supreme Soviet, Prime Minister Nikolai I. Ryzhkov announced a drastic reorganization of the government’s executive branch. He cut the number of ministries and state committees by more than half, while weakening the powers of the ones that remained. At the same time, he fired a multitude of high-level officials.

    Ryzhkov’s shake-up hit the energy-producing sector especially hard, sweeping off the stage...

  19. APPENDIX DRILLING STATISTICS
    (pp. 341-346)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 347-362)