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The Rising and Falling Power of Hydrocarbon States

By Dilip Hiro, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization via Petroleum World
The fast rising demand for oil by China and India, sharply declining fresh discoveries, and high prices are empowering the countries with large reserves of black gold as never before. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez provides a striking example of how petroleum has emboldened leaders of oil-rich states to thumb their noses at the giant neighbor in the north – the US.

…In 1956, when Britain-France-Israel invaded Egypt, the Egyptians blocked the Suez Canal with sunken ships, thus disrupting oil supplies from the Persian Gulf region to Western Europe. The West Europeans appealed to US President Dwight Eisenhower to meet their oil needs, knowing that American petroleum corporations at home had a spare capacity of 4 million bpd.

But Eisenhower refused to oblige. He regarded the UN-brokered ceasefire inadequate and urged the occupying forces to withdraw from Egypt. Facing crippling oil shortages as winter advanced, London and Paris conceded a quick evacuation.

However, once US oil output peaked in 1970 and began declining irrevocably thereafter, making the nation increasingly dependent on petroleum imports – currently accounting for three out of five oil barrels consumed domestically – it could no longer wield the oil weapon.

Such will be the fate, a half century from now, for the countries now enjoying an economic boom and hefty diplomatic clout due to their hydrocarbon riches.

Dilip Hiro (born Larkana) is a playwright and analyst specializing in Islamic countries, ranging from Iraq and Lebanon to the Central Asian republics. He currently lives in London. Dilip Hiro’s latest book is “Blood of the Earth: The Battle for the World’s Vanishing Oil Resources,” published by Nation Books, New York. He is also a journalist, contributing to the Observer, New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post and is a commentator on the BBC, Sky News and CNN and various radio stations.
(3 July 2007)

U.S. oil’s global influence wanes
Developing nations lock up more resources

John Porretto, Associated Press
Though the United States is still the world’s leading oil consumer, its might in the global petroleum business is dwindling.

Developing countries are locking up a bigger share of the world’s oil and gas resources to profit from high prices and fuel industrial growth.

Some experts view the shift as an emerging threat to the U.S. economy, while others see benefits for consumers and say that an expanding list of suppliers diminishes the impact of any single disruption.

Still others see the shift simply as a reflection of globalization, whereby emerging economies lean on rising financial strength and technological know-how to become tougher competitors.

New research by investment bank Goldman Sachs suggests four countries in particular — Brazil, Russia, India and China — are grabbing the most market share from American companies.

The four’s share of the industry’s market value has grown from virtually nothing 15 years ago to more than one third today, while American companies’ stake has dwindled from more than half to less than a third.

The biggest factor, most analysts agree, is the growth of government-controlled oil companies…
(8 July 2007)

Britain has slashed its reliance on Mideast oil

Ed Conway, Telegraph
Britain is now importing only the tiniest fraction of its oil from the Middle East, sourcing its crude instead from the Americas, Africa and Norway, according to intriguing new Government figures.

Norwegian offshore oil rig: Britain has slashed its reliance on Mideast oil
Almost three-quarters of UK crude imports come from Norway

An analysis by experts at the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly the Department for Trade and Industry), reveals how dramatically the map of UK oil sources has changed over the past half-century, with almost three-quarters of UK oil coming produced from Norway.

Whereas in 1950 some 81pc of UK oil came from states in the Middle East, now only 2pc does. The experts put the dramatic fall down to the oil crisis in the late 1970s, where Middle Eastern states cut their exports to various Western states following the Arab-Israeli wars, as well as to the discovery of oil in the North Sea.

The figures undermine the widespread perception that Britain is greatly reliant on the Middle East for its oil. They reveal that if Gulf states started to embargo its oil exports, the UK would not be as directly hit, though it is still clearly vulnerable to any changes in oil and gas prices caused by events in the Middle East and elsewhere.
(5 July 2007)

Australia reliant on Middle East oil: experts

Ashley Hall, ABC News
Oil and its refinery by-products play a fundamental role in just about every part of Australian life, and a large amount of it originates in the Middle East.

Graeme Bethune, chief executive officer of energy advisory firm EnergyQuest, explains.

“Only about 13 per cent of the crude oil that we import comes from the Middle East, but we import increasing amounts of refined petrol and diesel from Singapore and Singapore gets most of its feed stock from the Middle East,” he said.

“So if you take account of all that, about a third of our liquid fuels come from the Middle East now.”

Mr Bethune says Australia receives more oil from the Middle East than the US does, to make up for declining local output.

“We’re getting a little bit of a kick up now through three or four new oil projects, and BHP announced one called Pyrenees that starts in 2010,” he said.

“But that’s basically all there is in the pipeline at the moment.

“So after that we’ll expect oil production to keep falling quite quickly.”
(6 July 2007)