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In the Name of God بسم الله
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More sanctions may well come. But they will hurt western economies more than Iran. They will be responded to by Iran tit for tat with ever increasing oil prices. Iran has already announced more maritime maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz. When those and the accompanying propaganda have passed the price of Brent crude may well be at $120/bbl and the U.S. economy on its way into another downturn. When the EU announced its decision to stop imports from Iran the propaganda claimed that the Saudis would make up for any lack of crude oil and somehow hold oil at $100 per barrel that was some wishful thinking. Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest crude producer, reduced oil output and exports in December from November when it produced the most in more than 30 years, according to the Joint Organization Data Initiative. Oil prices jumped to nearly 105 dollars a barrel - a nine-month high - in Asia today, after Iran said it halted crude exports to Britain and France in a dispute over its nuclear programme. Benchmark crude was up 1.75 to 104.99 dollars a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day it rose to 105.21, the highest since May. The contract rose 93 cents to settle at 103.24 a barrel in New York on Friday. Brent crude was up 1.52 at 121.10 dollars a barrel in London. Note that the benchmark WTI price of $105, which is set at the pipeline hub in Cushings Oklahoma, is currently distorted. Cushings is oversupplied and lacks pipelines that could transport the oil from the U.S. midwest to the coasts. The Brent crude price is therefore what sets the consumer price for gasoline in large parts of the U.S. as well as in Europe. Brent at $120 a barrel is global recession territory. The Chinese, who just renewed their long term contract with Iran, will likely get their oil cheaper than that. So we are right there where I predicted sanctions would lead.
Welcome to an edgy world where a single incident at an energy “chokepoint” could set a region aflame, provoking bloody encounters, boosting oil prices, and putting the global economy at risk. With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch -- the Geo-Energy Era -- in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs. In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world. In the years to come, the location of energy supplies and of energy supply routes -- pipelines, oil ports, and tanker routes -- will be pivotal landmarks on the global strategic map. Key producing areas, like the Persian Gulf, will remain critically important, but so will oil chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca (between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea) and the “sea lines of communication,” or SLOCs (as naval strategists like to call them) connecting producing areas to overseas markets. More and more, the major powers led by the United States, Russia, and China will restructure their militaries to fight in such locales. You can already see this in the elaborate Defense Strategic Guidance document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” unveiled at the Pentagon on January 5th by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. While envisioning a smaller Army and Marine Corps, it calls for increased emphasis on air and naval capabilities, especially those geared to the protection or control of international energy and trade networks. Though it tepidly reaffirmed historic American ties to Europe and the Middle East, overwhelming emphasis was placed on bolstering U.S. power in “the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South Asia.” In the new Geo-Energy Era, the control of energy and of its transport to market will lie at the heart of recurring global crises. This year, keep your eyes on three energy hot spots in particular: the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Sea basin. One thing is certain: wherever the sparks may fly, there’s oil in the water and danger at hand in 2012.
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