Aims of this lesson – to have learnt: Question 3 - What might the world’s energy future be? Energy Security and the Future Where are the geopolitical energy hotspots? What are the factors which will increase tensions and conflicts?
There are a number of sources of tension, both present and future, related to energy security and the threat of insecurity:
Scenario Explanation Consequences Oil hits $100
Sustained oil price of over $100 per barrel, for several years.
Prolonged economic recession and rising fuel poverty in OECD countries
Middle East meltdown
Tensions in the Gulf escalate into war between Muslim factions; possibly involving Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Turkey and others.
Interruption of oil and gas flows; rising prices; tension between China and USA to secure oil supply
The nuclear option
Wholesale shifting towards nuclear to replace fossil fuels, leads to global spread of nuclear power and technology
Power stations become ‘soft targets’ for terrorism; enriched uranium and depleted plutonium get into the wrong hands….
The Gulf States hold 60%+ of oil reserves and Russia/Qatar/ Iran 60%+ of gas; the world has not shifted to renewables.
Energy superpowers begin to ‘name their price’ and take care of their friends; major geopolitical shifts
Canada, Russia, USA and EU begin to exploit the Arctic for oil and gas, but without clear delineation of territorial areas.
A war or words over who has the right to exploit what, quickly becomes a new cold war – possibly a hot one……
From the Spec: 3.3: Energy insecurity may lead to increased geopolitical tension and the potential conflict, e.g. in the Middle East, or between gas consumers in Europe and producers in Russia, as consumers attempt to secure supplies
It is every country’s interest to become as energy-secure as possible. The key to ENERGY SECURITY lies in:
Making the greatest possible use of domestic sources of energy
Diversifying energy resources to minimise the use of fossil fuels and maximise the use of renewable resources
Ensuring guarantees of imported energy, namely reliable supplies and stable prices
Conflicts and Oil The majority of conflicts around energy are around oil and gas (areas of production and pathways). There has always been much speculation over the real reasons behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Would the US have been so interested in the plight of the Iraqis if Iraq grew carrots?
Civil war broke out in Angola in 1961 as part of the battle for independence from Portugal. The war continued after independence in 1974 with the ruling party backed by the Communists (Cuba and Russia) and the rebels by South Africa (and the USA). Why were the superpowers interested in this particular country? Many countries in Africa descended into Civil War after independence but not all had this kind of intervention. Also, why would a ruling communist party allow and promote such symbols of capitalism as Shell and BP to operate off their shores and in their country…? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/01/99/angola/264228.stm
Describe the pattern of stress points and US military aid/activity. Suggest reasons for this pattern (5)
Threat of terror attacks on oil refineries especially in Iraq. Control of ¾ of oil is with Middle East The straits of Hormuz between Iran and the UAE have 30% of world oil supply passing through them- risk of hijacking of vessels Piracy is widespread in the straits of Malacca The Bab el Mandab is at risk for Yemeni and Somali pirates- it’s the main supply route from Middle East to the EU nations of oil The oil refinery at Abaqaiq has been a terror target before- luckily it went wrong Russia controls the gas supplies of most of eastern Europe and a large % of Western Europe’s gas supply Germany is phasing out nuclear power as energy source since the Fuckushima disaster in Japan, it will now rely more on Russian gas to meet its energy demands. In 2011 the Fukushima nuclear reactor leaked radiation after the Earthquake affected it- questions over safety remain In 2010 BP oil rig in the Mexican gulf leaked gallons of oil into the sea- killing sea birds, mammals and fish and damaging fishing trawler businesses along the US southern states and Caribbean Islands for 4 month- some fishermen lost their livelihoods The Iraqi invasion of 2003- today- put oil production on back foot Saudi Arabia has the majority of the world’s oil supplies- tensions with the USA and the ‘west’ put this supply at risk As the Arctic Ice retreats further each year, new oil deposits are being uncovered in the region all the time- debate over who owns and controls could lead to trouble Debate over whether exploiting non conventional oil sources like the tar sands and the green river shale deposits is on going- environmentalists fight against it, some say US needs to maintain energy security China is competing with the USA and EU for oil it can pay more so pushes price up and demands supply increase- leaving less for the USA and the EU who are heavily reliant on foreign oil imports Iran and the USA do not get along- Iran has vast oil reserves many of the worlld biggest reserves of oil are in Iran friendly countries The need to find new oil sources has led to drilling deeper down into sea beds to extract it leading to increased oil leak risk- as in the Mexican gulf in 2010 The failure of nuclear reactor at Fukushima in Japan has reignited the nuclear debate- calling its safety into question The Arab spring- the unrest in nations like Syria over corrupt dictator governments- west supports the uprisings- repercussions threat it will spread to Iran- bigger population, more oil bigger world issue Libya an the unrest caused by Gaddafi- ‘west’’ want him out- he won’t leave- civil unrest- oil refineries target risk
Iran’s nuclear threat US and west are worried they are developing nuclear weapons and will use them to attack west On-going Israel- Palestine tensions- USA seen to support Israel most of rest of Middle East supports Palestine- terror threat – suicide bombings etc Changes in Al- Qaeda and threat of reprisal for death of Bin Laden On going tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region If unrest resurfaces in Egypt- they control suez oil transport key hotspot- risk of disruption to supply