The Soviet Energy Problem

What Policy Choices Will it Require?

by Thane Gustafson

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A synopsis and review of two recent books on energy and its development in the Soviet Union: Leslie Dienes and Theodore Shabad, [The Soviet Energy System], and Robert Lewis, [Science and Industrialization in] [the USSR]. Although the Soviet Union appears to be facing a decline in its oil production and known reserves in West Siberia, the authors of the first volume believe that after a tough decade in the 1980s, the Soviets will be the closest to true energy independence of any industrial power. Current problems are maintenance of export levels to their allies and their own overdependence on oil. The authors discuss the alternatives and decisions facing Soviet leaders. Robert Lewis' brief history of science and technology policy in the 1920s and 1930s shows that although the scale and sophistication of Soviet science and technology have changed since those early days, the basic questions of organizing and managing it have not, and comments on two hypotheses why. Issues in Soviet R&D policy and innovation are further discussed.

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