Oil and Gas – Decisive Factors for Rise and Fall of Powers

Posted in Energy Security , Other | 03-Apr-08 | Author: Dieter Farwick

"It is more than certain that the last drop of oil will derive from an oil well in the Middle East"

Under the label of energy security, WSN has covered the ever-decreasing availability of oil and gas and the simultaneously drastic increase in demand for them worldwide. Long before both lines will meet in 3-4 decades from now, the competition between the great consumers – China, India, Japan, Europe and the US - will sharpen , while the oil and gas producers will try to get the most out the reserves – as long as they last.

It is amazing that the serious discussion about this inevitable conflict does not spill over from closed circles of experts into the broader public and political arena. Energy security should be number one on any national and international agenda. It is not. For example, the European Union is one of the greatest consumers of oil and gas, making it very dependent on the producers – e.g. Russia - but there is no serious initiative to develop a common strategy. To make things even worse, the oil and gas reserves sit in politically fragile regions and great distances have to be covered by vulnerable “bloodlines.”

There is another factor: In many of the regions with oil and gas reserves, there are religious and ethnic groups in power or which might come to power within the coming 3 – 4 decades, and these groups are not too friendly to Western countries. They might prefer to export their oil and gas to Asia – especially to China, India and Japan.

As the production costs to produce oil and gas between a country’s peak and its point of depletion increase, the competition between the consumers will sharpen and the economies of the consumer countries will suffer more and more. This is true for societies, too, for which individual mobility will become increasingly expensive.

There is no hope that reducing the consumption and enforcing the usage of renewable energies will close the widening gap to affordable prices. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many countries are planning and building numerous nuclear power plants as a substitute for oil and gas against the resistance of people who do want to recognize the consequences of threatened energy security already in their lifetimes.

Our South East Europe Editor, Ioannis Michelatos, has covered the issue of energy security in several articles for WSN. The Balkans will win new significance as a transit region for oil and gas – an incentive to solve existing problems as soon as possible. Ioannis Michelatos offers a sound analysis and recommendations for the way ahead.

This is equally true for a book written by a member of the WSN International Advisory Board, BrigGen (ret) Dr. Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi (Makni), Islamabad, Pakistan. I add a review about his new book "The New Great Game - Oil and Gas Politics in Central Eurasia" (see www.RaiderPublishing.com) which is a must read not just for experts but for all people who think about their own and their following generations’ future.

It might help to ask politicians why the topic of energy security does not get the political attention that it deserves. Oil and gas are not “nice to have” but a “ must have” for all of us before mankind finds an affordable replacement.