EGEE 120
Oil: International Evolution

The Lecture for The Quest Chapter 13: The Security of Energy


The Quest Chapter 13: The Security of Energy

Introduction & Dimensions

Questions to Consider are integrated throughout this section. Pipeline Politics have many questions still unanswered.

Security of Energy -

World War I begins with a new view of the value of energy. Will it last to rely on it? Will the country's military have a secure supply to protect? Will it actually do what the scientists think it will do? These questions were in the discussion about Great Britain changing from coal to oil as the Navy’s energy source. Many were concerned about the large investment and security & transportation of the supply.

Great Britain's supply of coal was safe; they had supplies and could continue to have control of the supply. No other country could cut their supply line, or disrupt the ability of the British Navy to be able to protect itself from an enemy. On the contrary, oil was 6000 miles away. Introduction of the first fear of foreign oil imports. Britain’s answer to this risk is to control 51% of the oil company that was drilling this oil. Thus, create as secure a supply as possible for the military.

In addition to all the valid criticism of changing to oil - Risky Insecurity, far away - Churchill responded with what would become a fundamental principle on energy security - Diversification of supply - Even today, a country that imports oil does not do that from just one country, but many.

The Navy did change, and we know that it did fulfill all that the British Navy needed it to do, but can we count on the oil to continue to be the best and most secure energy source? What does it mean today - Best and most secure energy source? Reliability? Environmentally Friendly? Secure? Military dependence? What is the opposite side of the conflict using as an energy source? Much like the question asked about the German Navy vs British Navy.

Modern Value on the security of energy brings the increased concern to our modern conveniences which we now consider necessities - heat, transportation, plastic, synthetic fabric…. 100s of petroleum-based products that we use every day. Without petroleum energy, our world comes to a halt. This was not a dominant issue before World War I, but now everyone is using oil.

Dimensions of energy security -

1st Physical Security,

Infrastructure, supply chains, trade routes - an example of this would be the Oil Tanker making its way to Britain from Russia - 6000 miles. How is it protected? Can this route be disrupted? Thus, the supply is then not where it is relied upon to be.

2nd Access to Supplies:

Physically, contractually, commercially - remember Reynold’s “Beer and Skittles” challenges in Persia? He struggled with actually finding the oil to negotiations with local Persians to basic infrastructure to transport it to the Oil Tanker. What challenges are there with international negotiations regarding oil? What are other physical challenges that oil companies must overcome?

3rd Energy Security:

This refers to the challenges with the many Government Policies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) - examples of Greenpeace, the Red Cross, International Government Organizations examples - United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO) European Union (EU). Coordination between these many organizations impacts the security of the oil supply. The teamwork between these organizations is illustrated in how they respond to the disruption of emergencies in supplies. These organizations also partner with many International Oil companies to ensure our house is warm and gas is available for travel so each of us can have what is now considered necessities every day.

Many non-oil related situations can impact this teamwork and thus impact the supply of oil. A non-oil related situation could be a religious difference between two countries that want to have a pipeline connection. What happens when that religious difference becomes more important than the oil profit or oil-related products? A disruption in the oil supply. What are some modern examples of an oil supply disruption? What are some non-oil related issues that will continue to impact the world oil supply?

Yergin, Daniel. (2012). The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. New York: Penguin Books