Geopolitics of Energy Resource Uncertainty
International conflicts over energy resources are often the result of power politics spilling over to the economic sphere.
Fossil energy reserves will not run out soon. According to the IEA, proven coal reserves are 142 years of current production, natural gas 61 years and crude oil 54 years, while recoverable resources are respectively more than 3000 years, 233 years and 178 years. The constraint on energy reserves is thus not geology but something else. The reserves of energy are a function of technical, environmental, economic and political circumstances that help or hinder their exploitation and create a sense of scarcity or not. Energy has been an important source of income for many producing countries, and state’s always had an important say in the exploitation of energy resources. State companies are important players on international markets. As long as globalising markets offered an outlook of increased availability of energy flows, ownership and alliances mattered little, but in the current geopolitical climate a more national approach to energy availability (self-sufficiency) and cost (also in terms of climate) becomes an issue. International conflicts over energy resources are often the result of power politics spilling over to the economic sphere.
Coby van der Linde is director of the Clingendael International Energy Programme (CIEP) and Professor of geopolitics of energy at Groningen University. She has published widely on oil and gas issues.
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