Over the past decade, the energy needs of China and India have shown accelerated growth and, according to most estimates, they will be the world’s largest petroleum importers over coming decades. This situation has led to their greater exposure in regions such as Africa and Latin America, in terms of loans and investment made by Asian oil and gas companies. At the same time other major importing regions, such as the USA, have significantly reduced their dependence on foreign oil due to the increase in the exploitation of shale oil. These two phenomena have caused changes to the patterns of the oil trade,

leading African countries to lose a significant part of their market share in the USA and to the development of unconventional hydrocarbon sources such as extra-heavy oil in Venezuela to meet the additional demand arising in Asia. These factors create conditions for commercial relations between Africa and Latin America that had not been developed previously, and which the literature on the oil market seems not to have extensively addressed. First, we will make some theoretical remarks on energy security, its effects on

cooperation and competition in consumer countries, and the historical organization of the oil producers in order to present the factors that condition cooperation on the producers’ side. Second, we will emphasize the opportunities arising for Asian consumers, the energy security strategies of Asian countries seeking to diversify their partners in Africa and Latin America, and the increase in US oil production as fundamental changes in the competition for resources at the beginning of the century. In light of these events, we propose that the possible means of cooperation between Africa and Latin America go beyond the typical patterns of cartelization and explain the opportunities for projects and relations between the two regions, given their resource complementarity.

At the start of the 21st century the discussions on energy security were framed by the growth of demand and the restrictions imposed on the oil

supply side following the notable fall in investment in the 1990s. Among these approaches the one made by Jaffe stands out. She suggests that consumer countries can use energy policy instruments as a mechanism for integration and cooperation, rather than greater competition for natural resources.2 In the case of Asia, she points out that, among others, these instruments relate to the diversification of sources of oil importation via investments in oilexporting countries, increased energy efficiency measures and diversification of energy sources. Nevertheless, the possibility would also open up (as later proved to be the case) that the oil market could face oversupply depending on the energy policies of the consumer countries. This was made manifest with the growth and development of shale exploitation in the USA. In contrast to Jaffe’s analysis, we propose that at present not only do possibilities for agreement between consumer countries exist, but in specific cases there is potential for cooperation between producer countries not only to implement production quotas but also on commercial, financial and technological exchange. Also on the issue of energy security, Metcalf analyses the case of the USA.3

He indicates that eliminating energy imports is not optimal as a policy for guaranteeing supply. He suggests the idea of complementarity of different energy sources and even of different varieties of crude. In this chapter, by examining the case of Asia, we can observe the different instruments of energy policy, and how they generate possibilities for cooperation on the producers’ side. Stevens observed that on the producers’ side, at the end of the 1970s and

the start of the 1980s, high oil prices led to massive investment in exploration and production and a consequent excess capacity, similar to the current situation.4 In this case, he suggests that OPEC’s role as market controller has been to estimate the demand not met by non-OPEC countries and place this amount on the market to prevent downward pressures on the price. This strategy has two fundamental risks: 1) the capacity to estimate this residual demand; and 2) OPEC’s potential to enforce the production agreements in the face of the typical ‘prisoner’s dilemma’. It may be said that since 2014 OPEC has seen this market stabilization role reduced as it has lost market share to non-OPEC production. Other authors such as Cremer and Salehi-Isfahani have analysed how the

oil market tends to behave in a competitive manner with multiple balances, due to the particular characteristics of the supply curve.5 This supply responds to the capacity to absorb rents in the producing countries. Following these findings, it is suggested that limited capacity exists for cooperative behaviour between the oil-exporting countries. But most of the literature implies that the forms of cooperation are restricted to variables such as extraction volume. In reality, the different types of crude extracted can provide complementarities in the productive process, as this article argues.