The Long Road To First Oil

44 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2020 Last revised: 22 Mar 2021

See all articles by David Mihalyi

David Mihalyi

Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)

Date Written: March 21, 2021


The road from a petroleum discovery to production is long, especially in developing countries. On average they take 7 years with a standard deviation of 9 years and a quarter of the fields are yet to reach production. I analyze the drivers of petroleum project timelines using survival analysis and event study methods. Institutions are a key factor. Democracies and state owned firms operating domestically are significantly quicker. My findings suggest earlier research relying on lagged impacts of giant petroleum discoveries provided biased estimates of the effects of oil production shocks.

Keywords: natural resources, institutions, national oil companies

JEL Classification: P50, Q33, Q35

Suggested Citation

Mihalyi, David, The Long Road To First Oil (March 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

David Mihalyi (Contact Author)

Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) ( email )

80 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
United States

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