The CSS Blog Network

Today’s Energy Security Risks: Complacency, Uncertainty, and Ideology

Burning Oil Well. Image: LCpl. Dick Kotecki/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Atlantic Council on 3 December, 2015.

At the 2015 Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit in Istanbul, twenty-one Ministers and senior officials from Europe, Asia, North America, and the Middle East met to assess the changing geopolitics of energy security. The assembly was a reminder that energy security — the ability of a nation to secure affordable, reliable, and sustainable supplies to maintain national power — is very different for each nation.

It was clear that advances in technology — in oil and gas, and renewables — have changed the geopolitics of energy dramatically, and mostly for the better, from the world of 2008 or even 2011. We have moved from an era of resource scarcity to abundance, from a concentration of resources to ubiquity of access, and from monopoly power in oil and gas to gas on gas competition in Europe. There is now a clear de-linkage of oil and gas pricing, more hub pricing and a growing spot market in LNG. Floating LNG and containerized shipping are enabling lower cost and quicker access of nations to gas, helping them move away from coal.  US shale, with huge resources, low extraction costs, and rapid drilling times may help put a ceiling on the price of oil.  Changes in wind, solar, and energy efficiency technology have driven down the cost of renewables in many countries, making them cost competitive with coal or gas in many cases. » More

A Non-Violent Conflict: The Venezuela-Guyana Dispute

The Venezuela/Guyana border area. Image: Unukalhai/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 21 July, 2015.

An old territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana has flared up once again as the Guyanese government contracted ExxonMobil to look for offshore oil in an area that Caracas claims as its own. While it is unlikely that this particular instance will escalate into an armed conflict, these tensions highlight how non-violent incidents over coveted resources will continue to occur. Moreover, should clashes over this disputed territory continue, Venezuela will, in this author’s opinion, come out as the loser as it will be inexorably regarded as the aggressor against a militarily weaker neighbor.

Moreover, while this dispute has thankfully been non-violent, it could affect U.S.-Venezuela relations as the two governments have been at odds for over a decade and a half. Washington could capitalize on Venezuela’s aggressive stance in order to strengthen relations with Guyana to better monitor developments in Caracas. » More

The Politics of Oil in Today’s Middle East

Old Gas Station. Image: Rob Brewer/Flickr

On 26 March 2015, the ISN hosted an Evening Talk on “The Politics of Oil in Today’s Middle East.” The featured speaker was Dr. Gawdat Bahgat, who is currently a Professor of National Security Affairs at the US National Defense University’s Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. The following video excerpts highlight the observations Dr. Bahgat made in his prepared remarks and in a follow-on question and answer (Q&A) session which was moderated by the ISN’s Peter Faber. » More

Arctic Oil On Life Support

Mars Ice island, Beaufort Sea Alaska. A 60 day exploratory well built offshore, 8 km off Cape Halkut near NPR-A. Image: SonicR/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Oilprice.com on 1 February, 2015.

Oil companies have eyed the Arctic for years. With an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil lying north of the Arctic Circle, the circumpolar north is arguably the last corner of the globe that is still almost entirely unexplored.

As drilling technology advances, conventional oil reserves become harder to find, and climate change contributes to melting sea ice, the Arctic has moved up on the list of priorities in oil company board rooms.

That had companies moving north – Royal Dutch Shell off the coast of Alaska, Statoil in the Norwegian Arctic, and ExxonMobil in conjunction with Russia’s Rosneft in the Russian far north. » More

Oil in South Sudan: Turning Crisis Into Opportunity

This article was originally published May 5 2014, by New Security Beat, the blog of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center.

Outside of donor and humanitarian aid, South Sudan’s economy is almost entirely dependent on the oil sector – and that sector is in crisis.

After a unilateral shutdown of the industry by the government in January 2012 that lasted 15 months, and ongoing partial shutdowns due to internal conflict, not only are current oil revenues drying up, but the prospects for new investment have been nearly destroyed.

As a result, demands on the donor community will grow rather than tail off in coming years. However, looking further afield, and if geology allows, a reformed South Sudan has the potential to turn what has until now been a developmentally detrimental oil industry – generating the finance and providing incentives for violent conflict – into one that generates positive change for its war-torn people. » More

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