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Don't underestimate the third-world appetite for energy - or ignore the implications.

The value of world trade dropped 1 percent in 1981 to under $2 trillion - the first year-to-year decline since 1958. Despite this overall slide, developing countries increased their exports and imports.

The meaning: Rapid third-world growth is putting new demands on world energy resources and may swing the world back from oil surplus to oil shortage.

Texas oil expert Henry F. Keplinger says that the point being overlooked is that ''as developing nations demand more energy, they will need it disproportionately because they are very inefficient energy users, with most needing two to three times as much energy for the same output as the West.''

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