Empirical evidence on the operational efficiency of National Oil Companies


On the basis of application of both data envelopment analysis and stochastic frontier estimation applied to a panel of 78 firms, we present empirical evidence on the revenue efficiency of National Oil Companies (NOCs) and private international oil companies (IOCs). We find that with few exceptions, NOCs are less efficient than IOCs. In addition, much of the inefficiency can be explained by differences in the structural and institutional features of the firms, which may arise due to different firms’ objectives.

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National Oil Company


National Oil Companies


International oil company


International oil companies


Energy Information Administration of United States Department of Energy


Data envelopment analysis


Stochastic frontier analysis


Constant returns to scale


Variable returns to scale


Organization of the petroleum exporting countries


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Correspondence to Peter R. Hartley.

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Eller, S.L., Hartley, P.R. & Medlock, K.B. Empirical evidence on the operational efficiency of National Oil Companies. Empir Econ 40, 623–643 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00181-010-0349-8

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  • National Oil Companies
  • Data envelopment
  • Stochastic frontier

JEL classification codes

  • L33
  • L71
  • D24
  • C14
  • C23