Energy security case study cards

  • Middle East & OPEC
  • Gazprom
  • ESPO
  • Tar Sands
  • California 
  • China

Middle East & OPEC

  • Largest supplies of oil globally
  • Security and political stability are vital in the Middle East; if the rest of the world wants to depend on its supplies 
  • Attacks in Abqaiq; produce 6.8 million barrels in a day (75% of Saudi's output) and 9/11 want to reduce dependency 
  • OPEC: stabilise and safeguard the price of oil for its members
  • net exporter
  • Larger populations more interested in revenue
  • Smaller populations more interested in stability 
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  • Worlds largest energy company
  • Worlds 3rd largest company; Exxon Mobil and General Electric 
  • Provide Russia with 92% of energy and EU with 30%
  • Russian governemnt have 50.002% stake 
  • 2006: 430,000 employed
  • 2004: Orange Revolution; Russia quadrupled proces 
  • 2008: Ukraine looking to join NATO and EU; again cut supplies 
  • Should EU be worried about their energy securtiy?
  • In short, NO; the European markets are too valuable to lose. 
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Tar Sands

  • Energy intensive
  • 2 tonnes of mined sands required to produce one barrel of oil; high waste products
  • Requires 2-5 barrels of water for one barrel of oil; water conflicts
  • 470 sq km of forest cleared
  • 130km 2 of toxic wastewater 
  • Remote area; requires opencast mining
  • Reduce USA's reliance on Middle East
  • By 2030 will account for 16% of USA's oil demands 
  • Most oil supplies reached peak oil' reduce dependency (seek alternative sources) 
  • Parallel example: ANWR region
  • Frontier hydrocarbons: lower grade of oil than conventional sources. 
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  • Longest and most expensive pipeline ever built (new energy pathway)
  • The Russian, Chinese and Japanese governments all interested for geopolitical reasons:


  • Needs energy to fuel economic growth 
  • Strait of Malacca is vulnerbale; existing energy pathway
  • China and Russia have a joint political interest over the issue of US military presence 
  • China and Russia have a joint political interest over the issue of US militatry presence in Central Asia


  • Almost no oil reserves of its own
  • 2007; Japan imported 76% of its oil from Middle East ESPO could reduce Japan's oil dependency on the Middle East by 10-15%
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Californian Blackouts

  • 2000-2001:
  • Summer of 2000 unusually hot, winter 2000-1 was unusually cold 
  • Insufficient generating capacity 
  • Deregulation of power industry in 1996 
  • Manipulation of the Californian energy market; ENron wealthy US energy company; used supply and demand mechanism to ensure that energy prices remained high.

They did this by:

  • obscuring origin of electricity 
  • deliberately reserving more power line usage than required. (overscheduling)

State declared that  by 2010 20% of California's energy must come from renewable sources. 

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  • Need energy for urbanisation
  • Up until 1993 it was self-sufficient in oil
  • Production at China's largest oil fields now peaked and eploration has begun for new fields
  • In its search for oil China is trawling the world; its foreign policy could now be said to be "resource based" 

Japans energy insecurity:

  • Japan's energy dependency is 80%
  • Japan is the largest economy in Asia, yet it has the smallest energy reserves of any major economy
  • 99% of its oil and gas is imported and energy security has long been a core goal of its domestic and foreing policy
  • SInce the collapse of the USSR, Japan has been seeking to reduce its dependence on the Middle East by engaging with the new Central Asian countries. 
  • ESPO pipeline. 
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