Energy featured

Helen Thompson: “The Complex History of Energy and Geopolitics”

November 15, 2023

(Conversation recorded on October 30th, 2023)

Show Summary

On this episode, political economist Helen Thompson and Nate discuss how energy and geopolitics have interconnected over the past century, building to the entangled political relationships we see around us today. The dynamics of power on a global scale are complex – stemming from access to energy, financial control, military strength, credibility/trust, and much more – yet we can understand these a bit better by learning the history that shaped them. How have geologic provinces of energy dense carbon created inherent hot spots on the geopolitical playing field? How has the global monetary system and debt evolved to strengthen the power of a select few countries and how difficult is it to break from this system? Do our leaders have the capability/knowledge to connect energy and geopolitical policy in order to guide us through a future of declining energy availability?

About Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson is Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge since 1994. Her current research concentrates on the political economy of energy and the long history of the democratic, economic, and geopolitical disruptions of the twenty-first century. She is a regular panelist on Talking Politics and a columnist for the New Statesman. She is a co-presenter of UnHerd’s podcast, These Times and recently published Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century.

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00:00 – Helen Thompson Works + Info, Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century

05:11 – BREXIT

06:07 – Representative Democracy

07:53 – 1970s political economy

09:05 – Oil and The Western Economic Crisis

09:50 – Suez Crisis

11:29 – British role in the Suez Canal 1956

12:55 – Eisenhower, Anthony Eden

13:33 – Strait of Tiran 

13:55 – 1967 Egypt closing the Strait of Tiran for 8 years

16:38 – Iranian Revolution

17:07 – Azerbaijan number one exporter of oil to Israel, coming through Turkey

17:26 – Israel selling arms to Azerbaijan

18:15 – Abraham Accords

19:17 – Abraham Accords extended to Saudi Arabia

19:44 – Israel exporting gas, Jordan and Egypt

20:45 – Diplomatic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by the Chinese

21:43 – Shia and Sunni Muslim sects

22:36 – Bush Administration negotiations in Iraq and Saudi Arabia post-Saddam era

24:10 – Palestine, Israel/Hamas Conflict

24:38 – ½-⅔ of the World’s oil is within 800 miles of Israel

25:55 – Trump maximum economic pressure in Iran

26:17 – Saudi defense system fail during Iranian attack

26:39 – Trump ordering assassination of Suleimani

27:34 – Strait of Hormuz

27:57 – American military presence in the Mediterranean 

29:08 – Archduke Ferdinand

30:12 – Israel gas field production shut down, cutting off supply to Egypt

30:47 – Bush and the war in Iraq

33:39 – Shale Oil temporary and partial fix for US energy independence

34:27 – US Iranian sanctions, nuclear treaty deal

38:14 – Biden visit to Saudi Arabia in 2022, Saudi lack of cooperation on oil production

38:51 – UAE, Saudi Arabia, and BRICS+ account for 50% of oil exports available for purchase (analysis by ISEOF)

40:08 – OPEC+

40:28 – China constraints on foreign oil and gas dependency

41:05 – Russian/Saudi relations

41:31 – 2020, Mohammed bin Salman flooding oil market, Trump admin response

45:25 – Long Term Oil Futures

45:59 – George Floyd

48:12 – Strategic Petroleum Reserve, 180 million barrels of oil released in response to Russia

49:42 – ISIS, Iraqi citizen attacks on oil companies

52:34 – Germany/England use of coal since the 13th century

53:13 – Opium Wars

53:50 – Alsace-Lorraine

54:34 – Very minimal oil deposits in Europe

55:20 – World War I deciding access to oil in Imperialist Europe

56:16 – Deutsche Bank, held 25% of shares in Turkish Petroleum Company, had to hand them over to France Post-World War

1:03:23 – West Africa summer 2023, France getting uranium deposits

1:05:11 – Europe return to coal

1:07:08 – Petrodollar, dollar denominated debt

1:08:11 – Nixon ending gold standard

1:09:37 – Volcker Shock

1:13:13 – International Banking System, main support for dollar strength today

1:15:10 – Art Berman, TGS Episodes

1:15:15 – Putin Energy Phd

1:16:07 – Pipelines running through Ukraine

1:17:28 – Crimea Crisis

1:17:38 – Yanukovych

1:17:54 – Sevastopol

1:18:18 – Donbas, Ukrainian shale gas

1:18:45 – Poland Shale

1:20:15 – Biden removed sanctions on Nord Stream 2

1:25:27 – Johnson Administration

1:26:00 – Post-soviet Ukraine instability

1:27:05 – Dutch, Italian, and French long-term LNG contracts with Qatar

1:27:25 – Qatar relationship with Hamas

1:18:56 – German gas intensive production shut down Winter 2022

1:29:45 – Qatar and Iran relations

1:30:19 – UK past peak in energy production

1:32:59 – UK new naval base in Bahrain, relations with the UAE

1:46:48 – Lord of the Rings

1:55:18 – Origins of the gold standard

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.