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The future of energy security will play a key role in the global balance of power

The future of energy security will play a key role in the global balance of power. These factors are four: 1. The Eastern threat ­ The Middle East is gradually shifting from being a uni‐polar region in which the US enjoys uncontested hegemony to a multi‐polar region. The US will face more competition from China and India over access to Middle East oil. Soaring global demand for oil is being led by China's continuing economic boom and, to a lesser extent, by India's rapid economic expansion. Both are now increasingly competing with the US, the European Union and Japan for the lion's share of global oil production. The demand for greater oil is affecting America's ability to pull itself out of its downturn and is creating inflation across the Western world. If China at any time in the future should develop its political will and ambition, it is in a relatively strong economic position to substantially weaken America. 2. The Russian threat ‐ Russia, the leading producer of natural gas and one of the leading oil producers, is the global winner. The relationship between the European Union and Russia is now dominated by Russia and will in the future make Europe dependent on Russian oil and gas.

The oil shocks of the 1970s had different effects on different European countries. Britain had some North Sea oil and the prospect of more, as did Norway. Germany and France had little or no oil of their own. Differential shocks in the coming period of oil shortages will make it harder to maintain the Euro‐zone. Vladimir Putin has already used oil and gas as a diplomatic weapon against the European states, which have had to fall into line in June 2007 after making grandiose demands against Russia. Russia even made veiled threats against Britain during the famous spy poisoning case. Russia has also in the last year stopped supplying energy to its neighbours to quell dissent and ensure political allegiances. Unlike China and India, Russia has a history of political strength and maturity, and the evidence over the last two years is that Russia has begun re‐inventing itself as a regional power, after winning back Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from the American grip and managing the stop the influence of the three revolutions in that region.

 America is becoming increasingly worried about the growing economic and political influence of Russia. 3. Oil and Petrodollars. One of the achievements of the US in the 1970's was to peg the price of oil to dollars. This meant that oil transactions are carried out in dollars only. This has allowed the US to maintain the dollar as the world premier currency and the currency of choice for foreign reserves. However one of the key factors behind the rise in the price of oil is the devaluing of the dollar. Trading countries require more dollars for oil simply because the dollar is worth less ‐ this would have increased the price of oil regardless of the increasing demand for it. Today the European Union led by Britain and Germany are increasingly calling for pegging oil to the Euro; thereby stabilising the price of oil, and giving a stable revenue to oil producing countries.

However, this severely impacts the dollar as a currency and if this was to happen would perpetuate America's economic crisis as the dollar would devalue even more. 4. The importance of the Middle East. Despite current supply shortages of oil around the world and the future restrictions, the importance of the Middle East, will not lessen. In fact it will become the most crucial area in the world. This is because 61% of the world’s oil reserves are in the Middle East. “Proved" oil reserves are those quantities of oil that geological information indicates can be with reasonable certainty recovered in the future from known reservoirs. Of the trillion barrels currently estimated only 39% are outside the Middle East. Today, 61% of global oil reserves are in the hands of Middle Eastern regimes: Saudi Arabia (22%), Iraq (11%), Iran (8%), UAE (9%), Kuwait (9%), and Libya (2%). Currently of the 11 million barrels per day (mbd) the US imports 3 million barrels per day are from the Middle East. But in the years to come dependence on the Middle East is projected to increase by leaps and bounds. The reason is that reserves outside of the Middle East are being depleted at a much faster rate than those in the region.
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