‘Petroleum,’ ‘oil’ and ‘fossil fuels.’ What’s the difference? And what about gas?

Oils of many different kinds can be extracted from minerals, plants and animals. This website uses ‘oil’ as shorthand for what is, properly speaking, ‘petroleum.’ We also track the exploration and production of Uganda’s ‘natural gas.’ Petroleum, natural gas and coal are the world’s main fossil fuels. They are called ‘fossil’ fuels because they were […]

Is the world running out of oil? (And will this mean that Uganda gets a good price for it?)

Oil wells were first sunk—from the mid-19th century, in countries ranging from Poland to the United States—mainly to obtain fuel, in the form of kerosene, for lighting. The invention of the internal combustion engine to drive ‘horseless (motor) carriages’ gave huge impetus to the oil industry. Ever more uses have since been found for the […]

What are the ‘natural resource curse’ and ‘Dutch disease’?

The phrase ‘natural resource curse,’ also sometimes called ‘the paradox of plenty,’ was originally coined by economists who found that countries with a rich endowment of natural resources tended, in the long term, to record slower economic growth than countries with fewer natural resources. It has since come to be used more widely and generally […]

Are there any ‘success stories’ of African oil production?

It is easier to find examples of African countries that seem to be afflicted by the ‘natural resource curse.’  Africa’s largest producers—Angola, Nigeria and Sudan—are regularly cited as countries where oil production has brought harm, and the ‘curse’ label is often also applied to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Chad. However, these countries have different histories […]