Geopolitics

War and Oil - The Pipeline Politics
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Issue Vol 24.2 Apr-Jun2009 | Date : 16 Feb , 2012

One has heard of the great depression that has struck the world on at least two occasions, once in the early 20th century, and the other one we are going through, currently. While the current crisis took everyone by surprise and unprepared, countries world over, are anticipating and bracing for the ‘Great Oil Shortage’ that is going to hit the world, sometime in the middle of the century.

Those who are forewarned and forearmed will tide the crisis, those who do not will collapse and almost, certainly, vanish from the map of the earth, at least as a sovereign entity. Countries may survive, either through accessing and conserving oil or may resort to alternative means of energy.

It is safe to predict that the current and future geopolitics will figure in the energy great game, currently being played out in the Central Asia Region, Caucasus and the Middle East the US led GWOT in Afghanistan arguably, being an intrinsic part of an endeavour to be at a place that is going to matter in the decades to come and, that place is the Central Asian Region and Afghanistan, with Russia and China, in and around it.

Where is the Oil?

60 percent of the world’s oil reserves lie in the Gulf with Saudi Arabia holding reserves of around 260 billion barrels. Iraq at 112 billion barrels is second, and Iran has the third largest reserves. These three, together, account for one fourth of the world’s oil. The recently formed Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, account for 1540 billion barrels of oil and 6-9 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. The United States is cleverly conserving its oil reserves, well under ground, locked within resource rich Alaska, bracing for the looming crisis. Russia has considerable reserves of oil which has majorly contributed to its current economic resurgence. Other sources will be Africa, South America and Canada.

“¦the “˜Great Oil Shortage that is going to hit the world, sometime in the middle of the century. Those who are forewarned and forearmed will tide the crisis, those who do not will collapse and almost, certainly, vanish from the map of the earth “¦

Consumption and Dwindling Supply

The supply of oil has gradually dwindled and is now at a stage where it is unable to keep pace with world demand. The world, today, consumes six barrels of oil for each new barrel that is discovered. The proven oil reserves are approximately one trillion barrels. New discoveries are far and few in between. Expectation of oil reserves under the Arctic and Atlantic shelf, melting under the onslaught of global warming, will lend to a race among countries to stake their claims.

The world consumption of oil is 76 million barrels a day, likely to spiral to 119 million barrels per day. As against this demand, world oil production will peak at 80 million barrels per day by 2020 and then gradually decline to 40-60 million barrels per day by 2040-2050. In 2004 India’s oil imports went up by 11 percent and that of China by 33 percent, exacting its toll on production operators, pipelines, refineries and shipping lines. Both these countries are expected to consume more than one-fifth of the global demand.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Rohit Singh

Rohit Singh is a Research Assistant at the Center for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)

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