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The amount of raw materials needed to sustain the economies of developed countries is significantly greater than presently used indicators suggest, a new Australian study has revealed. The decoupling effect was found to be minimal or even non-existent. The study brings the unsustainable use of resources to the public’s attention.

Preventing an Arctic Cold War (March 12, 2013)

While the Arctic Ocean used to be covered in ice year round, most of the ocean is now open during the summer months due to global warming. This unexpected transformation has heightened countries’ stakes over oil, gas, hydrocarbon deposits, and fishing rights in the region. Companies such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are preparing to exploit the oil reserves which have been formally negotiated between states. However, there has been little effort to develop legal mechanisms in the areas of commercial harvesting and water ownership, which could spark conflict in the future. The last few years have seen a military buildup in the area, despite any formal explanations for the deployment of military personnel. The Artic Council, comprised of eight Artic nations, has identified interests that are common to all members. Yet this forum has failed to undertake the creation of new laws to govern the region, or to reflect on how to maintain the peace should disputes arise. If peace and demilitarization are too sensitive a topic to be discussed in the forum at present, then there is little hope that cooperation will be achieved once conflicts arise. (New York Times)

Iraq at the Brink: A Decade after the Invasion (February 14, 2013)

A decade after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Iraqi citizens struggle to find a uniting vision. A violent war-legacy, Western interests, regional power plays and bitter sectarianism continue to divide Iraq. Sectarian strife has flared once again, with the ruling Shi’ites and Kurds accused of carrying out attacks against Sunnis. In return, the Sunni population is staging mass protests and strikes against political inequality, and demanding the end of Sunni disfranchisement under the new political system. Furthermore, business elites are taking advantage of the country’s divisions. Disputes between the Iraqi and Kurdish government grow over the control of oil fields. Both governments have amassed troops around the oil rich Kurdish region. Tensions are exacerbated by multinationals, such as Exxon, which has bypassed the central government in Baghdad to make lucrative oil and gas deals.


Off to the Races: Kenya's Oil, Uganda's Dilemma (March 30, 2012) 

As GPF noted recently, the ongoing negotiation between Tullow Oil (and backers Total and CNOOC) and the Ugandan Government has serious implications for the future of Uganda, and East Africa as a whole. Following the further discovery of oil in Kenya, East Africa's largest economy, by the same consortium, this article argues that the region’s future will be determined by its contrasting political systems. Uganda's political structure - centered on the person of President Museveni and the "no party democracy" he inaugurated - has previously put it in a strong negotiating position with the oil consortium, as decisions were essentially unaccountable and kept secret from the nation’s citizens. The article doesn't point out that this state of affairs has been directly encouraged and legitimated by the World Bank for the last two decades. Meanwhile, Kenya has a system of interlocking political institutions and greater governmental transparency, which has made it a safer negotiating partner for the oil consortium, as well as a safer investment. The story of oil in East Africa is just beginning, and the decisions and power dynamics of today will have a significant impact on both global energy infrastructure and politics tomorrow. (Fanaka Kwa Wote)

Uganda: Fresh Calls for Transparency on Local Oil (March 21, 2012)

As Uganda bolsters its energy infrastructure by building its first oil refinery local farmers are being forced off their land without any concrete compensation. This land grabbing exercise by the Ugandan government and Tullow Oil puts the lives and livelihoods of local communities at risk, threatening to displace 30,000 people, in a country still struggling to deal with IDP camps two decades old in northern Uganda. Competition between local populations and transnational corporations is not a new phenomenon, but it is one likely to proliferate across Africa as energy resources become even scarcer. (AllAfrica)

New Mediterranian Oil and Gas Bonanza (February 26, 2012)

Significant new oil and gas fields have been discovered in the eastern Mediterranean basin. The region’s peace is, at the best of times, precarious, with long standing and bitter hostility between Israel and Lebanon, and between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus.  With the new estimates suggesting a gas field to rival the Arabian Gulf’s, whoever can claim ownership and access to the new fields would attain vast new energy resources. This has stoked fears that the disputed territory between Israel and Lebanon could be a renewed theatre of conflict, according to this Russia Today report.  (Russia Today)
New areas of political tension are being revealed in the Arctic as ice cap shrinkage in the North Pole is exposing more and more potential sources of fossil fuels.  Global warming if accelerating these environmental changes and transforming the geopolitics of energy resources. The North Pole is not owned by any particular country, but recent geological surveys forecast a wealth of fuel under the ice, encouraging Russia, the US, Canada, and Denmark to lay competing claims to control of the territory and its resources. (PolicyMic)

Danger Waters: Danger Waters: The Three Top Hot Spots of Potential Conflict in the Geo-Energy Era (January 10, 2012)

Michael T. Klare brings to our attention the tensions and potential conflicts centering around the Straits of Hormuz, Caspian Sea Basin and the South China Sea, highlighting the increasing militarization of international energy policy. These vital economic and strategic locations lie at the perilous intersections of big oil and geopolitics – and the forces which coalesce around them provide us with insight into the future role resource control will play in foreign policy. As oil scarcity increases so do the stakes being played for in this new “Geo-Energy Era”. (TomDispatch)


Big Energy and Mining Groups 'Hide Accounts Using Secrecy Jurisdictions'

According to a study by Publish What You Pay Norway, over one third of subsidiaries owned by major energy and mining corporations including Shell, BP, and Glencore are based in "secrecy jurisdictions" where company accounts are not available to the public. Thus, populations in resource-rich countries are often unable to access financial information from businesses operating on their land or hold these businesses accountable. (Guardian)

Act on Oil Now to Stop Future Gaddafis (July 15, 2011)

Brendan O’Donnell of Global Witness argues that a lack of transparency over how a country manages its resources helps keep dictators in power, and creates conditions for new ones to emerge. This allowed Gaddafi –with the complicity of Western governments and oil companies—to effectively co-opt the wealth of an entire nation’s natural resources to perpetuate his own rule. If Gadaffi is removed, the National Transitional Council will have an opportunity to put in place mechanisms of transparency in the oil sector. Long-lasting peace and security depends upon institutional mechanisms requiring oil companies to fully disclose information to the public about the amount of money earned from each oil field, where the profit goes, and how the country’s natural resource wealth is spent. (Guardian)

How to Wreck a Planet 101 (June 5, 2011)

Michael Klare, author of Blood and Oil, highlights that the global energy crisis is worsening. Since the beginning of 2011, population demonstrations across the Middle East have indirectly caused an increase in oil prices, the crisis in Japan has put the safety of nuclear power into question, droughts have reduced the amount of energy produced by hydroelectric power, and critics have challenged fracking as a means of extracting natural gas. As Klare points out, the need to obtain more energy is causing irreversible harm to the planet and contributing to climate change. (Tom's Dispatch)

The Collapse of the Old Oil Order. How the Petroleum Age Will End (March 7, 2011)

Current oil demand is incredibly high, which makes the Middle East of utmost importance as it has the largest remaining reserves of oil left in the world. However, the unrest that is currently spreading throughout the region will inhibit its ability, and willingness, to continue producing at such high levels. Michael Klare, author of “Blood and Oil”,  argues that the “Pretroleum Age” will end as the unrest topples the Western backed authoritarian regimes that have kept oil flowing to the West. (Global Research)

Our Addiction to Oil is Draining Every Last Drop (March 1, 2011)

Oil prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks, due to unrest in the Middle East. The world's advanced economies appear to be shockingly unprepared for any type of major disruption in supply. The era of abundant and cheap oil resources is drawing to a close, and unless policy makers step up with innovative solutions economies will likely to collapse.  (Guardian)


Outrage at UN Decision to Exonerate Shell for Oil Pollution in Niger Delta (August 23, 2010)

The three-year investigation by the United Nations Environment Program will almost completely exonerate Royal Dutch Shell for its alleged oil pollution in the Niger Delta over the past 40 years. The UNEP maintains its impartiality despite Shell paying $10 million for the study. Mike Cowing, head of a 100 member UN team, has disclosed that the investigation will conclude that Shell is only responsible for 10 percent of oil pollution in Ogoniland with the rest stemming from local people stealing oil and sabotaging pipelines. At least 9 million barrels of oil has been spilled in the delta in the past half-century. (Guardian/UK)

Far From Gulf, a Spill Scourge 5 Decades Old (June 16, 2010)

The Gulf oil spill leads headlines daily, whereas the international media ignore weekly oil spills in the Niger Delta. The oil industry contributes 80% of the Nigerian government's revenue, yet the people living in the region benefit little. The nearly 546 million gallons of oil spilled in Nigeria has led to catastrophic environmental destruction and seriously damaged the food supply and livelihoods of those living there. Collusion between government and oil industry officials has led to ineffectual regulatory policies. Without media coverage, the big oil companies like Shell escape accountability. (New York Times)

After Peak Oil, Are We Heading Toward Social Collapse (April 16, 2010)

Glen Sweetman, a Director of the US Department of Energy, recently announced that worldwide oil availability has reached a "plateau." This statement was worryingly absent from the world's media - "peak oil" needs more publicity. Without popular knowledge and acceptance that oil reserves are finite, there can be no smooth transition from an economy based on perpetual growth to one based on equilibrium. Blissful ignorance of peak oil can lead to serious consequences: increased conflicts over natural resources, rocketing prices of petroleum based/dependent products (almost everything!) and, as Thomas Wheeler put it, "the end of the world as we know it."  (Truthout)

The Political Hydraulics of OPEC  (April 13, 2010)

Iraq might overtake Iran in oil production in seven year's time, challenging Saudi dominance in OPEC. This could have important ramifications, particularly with regards to China. China is the world's no.2 energy importer and has long been heavily dependent on Iranian oil, leading it to defend Tehran from sanctions. Now that the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation has signed a huge deal with Iraq, it looks as though Beijing may be more willing to accept sanctions in the UN Security Council against Iran. (Global Post)


Peak Oil Primer: An Introduction to Peak Oil (2009)

This article introduces "peak oil." The consequences of peak oil are vast, as modern economies are built on the premise of continual growth - facilitated by readily-available cheap fossil fuels. This article charts the history of the concept, highlights the concerns and provides recommendations to mitigate the impacts of peak oil.  (

Lessons of Darkness (December 16, 2009)

In his new book Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil, Peter Maas explores how the world's addiction to oil has created an industry that's perilously prone to volatility and corruption. From Saudi Arabia to Iraq, Russia and Nigeria, oil brings fear, greed and exploitation. With a global shortage of oil fast approaching, conglomerates go to increasing lengths to keep the pipelines pumping. Meanwhile, resource-rich countries are still "cursed" by oil wealth, which feeds corrupt authoritarian regimes and seldom reaches the vast majority of the population. (The Nation)

Oil: Future World Shortages are Being Drastically Underplayed, Say Experts (November 12, 2009)

Uppsala University has published a scathing assessment of the International Energy Agency's annual world Energy Outlook, just a few days after two insiders revealed that the agency was downplaying the potential for future oil scarcity. The study warns of the IEA's increased politicization, describing the report as a "political document" developed for consumer countries with a vested interest in low prices. In order to meet the agency's predictions, oil would have to be extracted at a pace never seen before. (The Guardian)

Key Oil Figures Were Distorted by US Pressure, Says Whistleblower (November 9, 2009)

The world is going to run out of oil even earlier than predicted, says a senior official at the International Energy Agency (IEA). The whistleblower claims that the organization has been deliberately downplaying the seriousness of a looming oil shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. Under pressure from the US, the agency has been underplaying the rate of decline of existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves. These revelations cast serious doubt on the World Energy Outlook, a report on oil demand and supply published every year by the IEA on which many governments rely to set their energy and climate change policies. (The Guardian)

Heads in the Sand: Governments Ignore the Oil Supply Crunch and Threaten the Climate (October 2009)

This in-depth report by Global Witness calls for governments worldwide to stop counting on the increasing availability of oil and recognize that we are facing an imminent oil supply crunch. Due to the combination of four trends - oil field depletion, declining discovery rates, insufficient new projects and rising demand - it will soon be impossible to increase the volume of oil on the market to meet demand. Because oil provides one third of the world's primary energy, this will have serious consequences on food security and international stability. Energy rivalries - if not energy wars - can be expected to multiply. Rising international tensions will also make it more difficult for countries to cooperate in order to tackle the problem of climate change.

It's Official: The Era of Cheap Oil is Over (June 11, 2009)

The latest report of the US Department of Energy has revealed the future of oil as it becomes increasingly scarce and costly. China is predicted to take over the US as the number one energy consumer by 2014. While Washington has tense relations with Iran, Sudan and other oil producers, Beijing is building closer ties with many of these countries. Competition and strife between the great powers will be accompanied by significant economic and environmental backlash.

Oil 2009: Be Careful What You Wish For (January 9, 2009)

This analysis by TomDispatch suggests that despite falling prices, oil will continue to have a global impact. The natural resource, which has fueled many of the world's conflicts, will remain the world's largest energy supply for decades to come. Instead of relieving competition, low prices are likely to ignite internal unrest within producing nations. Falling energy prices will force governments to cut back on programs for the most vulnerable, which will ultimately affect the countries' stability.


The Battle for the North Pole – Melting Ice Brings Competition for Resources (September 19, 2008)

The US Geological Survey estimates that the Artic circle region holds one quarter of the world's undiscovered gas and oil reserves. The US, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway compete for parts of the North Pole to secure natural resources. These countries invest in technical equipment like icebreakers and Artic patrol ships to locate natural resources and also submit Artic ownership claims to the UN. (Der Spiegel)

Riches in the Arctic: The New Oil Race (July 26, 2008)

US geologists, assessing the region north of the Arctic Circle, revealed that the region may contain as much as one fifth of the world's undiscovered, yet recoverable oil and natural gas reserves. Five countries – the US, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark – are already claiming stakes on the resources, boosting a competition that will surely lead to the environmental degradation of the region. (Independent)

Arctic Declaration Denounced as Territorial "Carve Up" (May 29, 2008)

Russia, Denmark, Canada, Norway and the US have signed a treaty to "carve-up" the natural resources in the Arctic, according to the Guardian. The treaty allows the countries a territorial right in the area based upon their coastline and undersea continental shelf. Greenpeace International criticized the signatories of the treaty for excluding environmental groups and local inhabitants, the Inuit's, from the talks, and warned that exploiting oil reserves in the Arctic would accelerate the process of global warming.

The Arctic Oil Rush (May 2008)

Russia and the US compete for vast oil reserves in the Arctic, according to Vanity Fair. Although the UN currently prohibits oil exploration in the area under the Law of the Sea Convention, both countries claim territorial rights to the region stating that their continental shelf extends to the polar ice cap. The author warns that drilling for oil in the Arctic will speed up global warming, destroy fragile ecosystems, and threaten the existence of indigenous populations in the Arctic.

Asia Has Interests in Myanmar (April 7, 2008)

Several UN Member States have an interest in preventing democratic reform in Myanmar, says the Jakarta Post. The editorial notes that China supports the military rulers in exchange for natural gas and the construction of a pipeline from Myanmar into its Yunnan province. Furthermore, India and Thailand offer the junta financial support, hoping to gain favorable trade deals in the country's rich natural resources. The author concludes that free from any effective pressure, "the Myanmarese military regime can continue to thumb its nose at the world."


Asian Leaders, Seeking Myanmar's Gas, May Go Soft on Sanctions (November 20, 2007)

China, one of the major ASEAN countries, does not support sanctions against Myanmar's military junta. India, once a supporter of Aung San Suu Ky's democratic movement, recently joined its ASEAN partners, China and Thailand in economic trade agreements with Myanmar's junta. Only Japan canceled its gas and oil contracts with Myanmar, joining the US and EU in their pro-democratic campaign. Ironically, Chevron Corp, a US oil-giant stated it will keep its natural-gas project in the country even if that means losing US government tax benefits. (Bloomberg)

Russia to File Arctic Claim to UN (October 30, 2007)

Global warming and ice melting effects generate access to a part of the Arctic seabed that contains billions of tones of oil, gas and precious metals. In the Arctic Circle, a new resource-driven conflict arises, as Arctic countries struggle to partake in the exploitation. Russia will file a claim by the end of 2007 to the United Nations in order to guarantee a share of this space. According to the UN Law of the Sea treaty, any country that wants to claim a greater share of the sea to its coastline must submit a request to the UN's Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. (Reuters)

Conflict Beyond the Oil Barges (August 13, 2007)

A 1990 agreement between Uganda and DR Congo declared joint ownership and exploitation of oil fields that extend across their shared border. Several violent incidents and the concentration of Ugandan forces in its western Rwenzori border region have led the heads of the Ugandan and Congolese forces to issue a joint communiqué, promoting political solutions to these border clashes. But Uganda "reserves the right of self defense", and private military company Executive Outcome's contracts to guard Congolese mines add to the militarized nature of resource exploitation at the border. (Daily Monitor- Kampala)

A New Cold War Over Oil (August 11, 2007)

The US-China showdown over African oil has led the Pentagon to establish an African Command (AFRICOM) branch of the military. US-friendly African armies, for example in Congo and West Africa, have absorbed AFRICOM into their command structures, thereby increasing US military presence on the continent. In addition, because the US cannot outbid China on oil dollar for dollar, it implicated China in the Darfur crisis, therefore undermining Chinese investments in Sudan and promoting UN intervention there. According to Professor Vijay Prashad, such oil-based international intervention in Africa will only "create an Iraq" there. (Frontline)


Natural Resources Are Fuelling a New Cold War (August 18, 2006)

With reserves of oil and natural gas becoming increasingly scarce and their extraction more expensive, Der Spiegel highlights the impact on the foreign policies of powerful states and on local communities in oil-rich areas. Governments turn a blind eye to human rights abuses and anti-democratic practices to form strategic alliances over control of the natural resources they see as of "existential strategic significance." Many large states have ambitions on the dwindling supplies of oil and gas. This article underlines the potential for conflict in the various pacts and deals formed to gain control.

Oil May Fuel Sino-US Conflict (June 29, 2006)

China's pursuit for oil in the Middle East will put it on a collision course with US interests in the region, analysts have warned. China relies heavily on the Middle East for oil, importing up to 43% of its total imports from fields in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan. By 2015, up to 70% of China's oil imports will be from the Middle East, through seas currently controlled by the US Navy. US analysts have also expressed concern at China's strategy of buying from states that Washington has long opposed. (al-Jazeera)


War of the Future (August 18, 2005)

The North-South and Darfur crises in Sudan stem and intensify from oil conflict, yet the US and European media largely ignore this "invisible war," says author David Morse. Writing in TomDispatch, Morse points to the Bush administration's "schizophrenic stance" — namely the labeling of the situation as genocide and then quietly lobbying against international action — as one example of how Sudan and other African countries fall victim to the developed world's greed for oil.

The Twilight Era of Petroleum (August 4, 2005)

Michael Klare warns of the impending oil decline, using a Chinese oil company's bid for US-based Unocal and a US-government sponsored "oil shockwave" war game to bring up the willingness of nations, especially the US, to use force to protect oil interests. But no amount of force in these "resource wars" can save the world from global economic crisis when output cannot match rising demand. In this TomDispatch article, Klare offers a valid solution -a quick transition to alternative fuels - but leaves out the answers on how this is possible and whether it will actually happen before its too late. (TomDispatch)


US Crude or Petroleum Oil Import Sources (November 19, 2004)

This table lists US military presence in oil-producing countries. It lists main or potential petroleum or crude oil import sources, oil transit routes and actual or potential US presence in these countries. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Oil, Guns and Money (September 2, 2004)

In an excerpt from Oil: Anatomy of an Industry the author argues that US troop redeployment is not about "fighting terrorism" and "ensuring global stability" but "making sure no one messes with American access to global energy resources." Considering the unstable nature of oil-rich regions and a less-than-favorable international climate, America may get the oil it needs, but at what cost? (

The Undeclared Oil War (June 28, 2004)

The Washington Post argues that rising demand for oil will lead to new conflicts in the 21st century as states compete for the fuels needed to feed citizens, defend borders and maintain economies. Such conflicts will divert attention and resources from "long-term energy challenges" such as developing alternative fuels.

China's Demand for Energy is Reshaping Power Structures Around the World (February 25, 2004)

China's growing demand for oil is reshaping the relationship between the world's two largest oil producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia. With both countries desiring to maintain high global oil prices, the two have pursued closer political ties and increased diplomatic co-operation. This collaboration illustrates how the big powers' demand for oil can indirectly transform global power structures. (Power and Interest News Report)



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