Dawn of the Dutch Petrostate: Corporate Sovereignty on the Jambian Oil Frontier 1904-1923
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This thesis traces the colonial origins of the Dutch petrostate. During the first two decades of the 20th century, Jambi (a region in East-Sumatra) was known to contain significant oil reserves. In this thesis, I analyse how the Dutch state and the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (precursor of Shell) competed and cooperated regarding the future oil industry in Jambi. Ultimately, both parties became associates in a public-private joint venture that would exploit Jambian oil: Nederlandsch-Indische Aardolie Maatschappij (NIAM). NIAM’s creation, however, was built on evading democratic pressures and a considerable state-corporate power asymmetry. By conceptualising Jambi as a colonial “resource frontier” and theorising about the “corporate sovereignty” of oil companies, I argue that NIAM marks the golden spike of the Dutch petrostate. Finally, I make the point that NIAM’s inception continues to leave a deciding mark on the Dutch petroleum industry today.