The Undeclared Oil War
[W]e are on the cusp of a new kind of war -- between those who have enough energy and those who do not but are increasingly willing to go out and get it. While nations have always competed for oil, it seems more and more likely that the race for a piece of the last big reserves of oil and natural gas will be the dominant geopolitical theme of the 21st century.
Already we can see the outlines. China and Japan are scrapping over Siberia. In the Caspian Sea region, European, Russian, Chinese and American governments and oil companies are battling for a stake in the big oil fields of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. In Africa, the United States is building a network of military bases and diplomatic missions whose main goal is to protect American access to oilfields in volatile places such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and tiny Sao Tome -- and, as important, to deny that access to China and other thirsty superpowers.
The diplomatic tussles only hint at what we'll see in the Middle East, where most of the world's remaining oil lies. For all the talk of big new oil discoveries in Russia and Africa -- and of how this gush of crude will "free" America and other big importers from the machinations of OPEC -- the geological facts speak otherwise. Even with the new Russian and African oil, worldwide oil production outside the Middle East is barely keeping pace with demand.