News / Middle East

    US Oil Surge Could Impact Mideast Geopolitics

    US Oil Surge Could Impact Mideast Geopoliticsi
    X
    May 22, 2013 1:45 PM
    The United States will account for a third of new oil supplies over the next five years, and will become energy self-sufficient in 20 years, according to a new report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA). Although U.S. oil imports from Arab Gulf countries increased last year, analysts predict the U.S. will lose its dependence on Middle East imports, which is expected to have a huge impact on international relations and the balance of power. VOA's Henry Ridgewell reports.
    US Oil Surge Could Impact Mideast Geopolitics
    Henry Ridgwell
    The United States will account for a third of new oil supplies over the next five years, and will become energy self-sufficient in 20 years, according to a new report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA). 

    Although U.S. oil imports from Arab Gulf countries increased last year, analysts predict the U.S. will lose its dependence on Middle East imports, which is expected to have a huge impact on international relations and the balance of power. 

    The IEA report describes a 'supply shock' from the United States rippling through world oil markets.

    "The key to it is the resurgence of shale development in the United States," John Mitchell, an oil market analyst at policy institute Chatham House in London. "It has been building up over some years, but only in the last three years has it reached big proportions."

    Shale oil and gas are extracted using pressurized fluid to blast the product out from the rock, a process known as hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking.' Some U.S. states and European countries have banned the practice over fears that it may cause pollution and even earthquakes.

    But the technology will help the United States become largely self-sufficient in oil by 2035, according to the IEA. U.S. gas production is expected to overtake Russia.

    When that happens, the concept of energy security will no longer dictate U.S. foreign policy.

    "Will the Middle East still be so dependent on U.S. military support?" Mitchell asked. "I am sure the answer is probably yes, but maybe the U.S. does not have quite the same interest in that as it did before."

    A more energy self-sufficient United States has dramatic implications for Middle East politics, according to Christopher Davidson of England's University of Durham, and  author of the book After the Sheikhs: The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies.

    "What we are also likely to see is the United States start to hedge its positions a bit better on the Gulf monarchies," Davidson said. "As it loses the dependent nature of this economic partnership, we are perhaps starting to see the U.S. already starting to reach out to opposition groups in Bahrain, for example, and increasingly in Saudi Arabia."

    In the midst of the Arab Spring, Davidson says many oil-rich Gulf monarchies are trying to pacify their populations with government handouts. Falling receipts from oil exports could trigger political upheaval.

    "Within just a couple of years we'll have a public spending deficit in most of the Gulf monarchies," Davidson said. "At the same time, we are also seeing the demonstration effect of the Arab Spring in Syria and north Africa starting to embolden the people of these countries. They are no longer willing to tolerate autocracy."

    Davidson says Gulf states will be gearing their oil exports eastwards in the coming decades.

    "However, what is missing is the security relationship that the Western powers have historically provided to the Gulf," he said. "The Gulf states know, and I suspect they are bluffing, that China and the Pacific Asian states cannot replace the West as this ultimate security guarantor."

    Analysts say the oil boom will give the U.S. economy a competitive advantage with cheap energy supplies no longer vulnerable to global geopolitics.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: hallofrecord from: Michigan
    May 22, 2013 5:32 PM
    The "energy independence" image is convenient, but not exactly correct. Given the global marketplace, it is quite possible that the U.S. could be both an importer and an exporter of oil and natural gas simultaneously. It all depends on the delivery infrastructure. It may make more sense logistically and economically to import some oil from Canada and Mexico while exporting some "domestic" oil to other countries.

    But the article is correct in that U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil will wane. That will not be the case for Europe and China.

    Europe has chosen to "go green" and abandon its energy base. Therefore, Europe will be at the mercy of Russia and the Middle East for its energy requirements unless the U.S. can economically supply some of its needs..

    China may eventually develop shale resources sufficient for a large part of its needs, but it still relies on importing coal in large quantities.

    The Middle East oildoms will eventually be force to either try to undercut competition, which will lower prices globally and restrict their income, or attempt to convince the dependent areas of the world that they are a reliable and worthy source, which may be increasingly difficult as Islamic activism and destabilization is an increasing concern globally.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora