Small Wars Journal

Oil Security and the Necessity for Global Cooperation

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Oil Security and the Necessity for Global Cooperation

by Dr. David A. Anderson

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At the beginning of the 20th century, oil (petroleum) represented four percent of the world's consumed energy. Today oil supplies 40 percent of the world's energy, 96 percent of which is transportation energy . The global demand for oil continues to grow at an alarming and unsustainable rate. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to make meaningful oil discoveries, and known oil reserves are now primarily located in unstable developing nation states or within remote geographic regions far from consuming nations. While nations have always competed for oil, it seems more and more likely that the race for the remaining last big reserves will be the dominant geopolitical theme of the 21st century.

The U.S. is on the verge of a new kind of war—between those who are seeking oil and are increasingly —to go out and secure it, and those determined to disrupt its flow to promote their agenda. As demand for oil increases, as global oil production continues to lag behind demand, as terrorists increasingly target oil production and infrastructure, and as producers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria grow more unstable, the struggle to maintain access to adequate energy supplies--always a critical mission for any nation--will become even more challenging and uncertain and will require more resources, political attention, and military intervention to secure.

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About the Author(s)


I think Mr. Claymore is asking for Congress to repeal the First law of Thermodynamics.

Plymouth Rock (not verified)

Mon, 04/14/2008 - 6:25pm

Herschel, while there is indeed a lot of oil at ANWR, the quantity is far, far short of what would be needed to alter our strategic situation. Blaming this on environmentalists is passing the buck.

Ken White (not verified)

Wed, 03/12/2008 - 9:18pm

I have four kids, Walrus -- I'm doing my part for population increase.


Better solution? Absolutely. Yes. We should be drilling in ANWR, starting up more clean nuclear reactors, and becoming completely energy-self-sufficient. There isn't any technical reason why we cannot go nuclear-hydrogen rather than fossil fuel, and be using our own oil during the transition. It would be better for us, better for the environment, and better for the rest of the world.

Simpler? Well, probably not. You see, we have these things called "environmentalists" here in the states. They don't really care much about the environment, they are mostly just looking for a religious cause. But attempting to change the political scene in the U.S. would take, well, real leadership. Some probably see the procurement of energy by any means as superior to changing the scene in the states.

You're correct in the theory, just too kind to the political scene in the U.S. to assume that anyone can actually do anything about it. It takes 60% of the Senate to get anything done. Rarely does this happen unless the Senators' constituents are getting money.

Addressing the asymmetry by harming the U.S. economy (i.e., legislating lower energy consumption) would of course be absurd and unnecessary (and for that reason I don't think you're suggesting that). Energy can be consumed cleanly.

walrus (not verified)

Wed, 03/12/2008 - 6:35pm

Quoting from the report:

"The U.S. consumes 45 percent of all gasoline produced in the world, yet represents only five percent of the worlds population"

Might not a simpler solution than pre-emptive war be to address this apparent asymmetry?