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The Energy Wars Heat Up

Posted on May 10, 2012
-Chupacabras- (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A poster celebrates the nationalization of YPF, Argentina’s largest oil company.

By Michael T. Klare, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

* U.S. forces mobilize for war with Iran: Throughout the winter and early spring, it appeared that an armed clash of some sort pitting Iran against Israel and/or the United States was almost inevitable.  Neither side seemed prepared to back down on key demands, especially on Iran’s nuclear program, and any talk of a compromise solution was deemed unrealistic.  Today, however, the risk of war has diminished somewhat—at least through this election year in the U.S.—as talks have finally gotten under way between the major powers and Iran, and as both have adopted (slightly) more accommodating stances.  In addition, U.S. officials have been tamping down war talk and figures in the Israeli military and intelligence communities have spoken out against rash military actions.  However, the Iranians continue to enrich uranium, and leaders on all sides say they are fully prepared to employ force if the peace talks fail.

For the Iranians, this means blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel through which one-third of the world’s tradable oil passes every day.  The U.S., for its part, has insisted that it will keep the Strait open and, if necessary, eliminate Iranian nuclear capabilities.  Whether to intimidate Iran, prepare for the real thing, or possibly both, the U.S. has been building up its military capabilities in the Persian Gulf area, deploying two aircraft carrier battle groups in the neighborhood along with an assortment of air and amphibious-assault capabilities.

One can debate the extent to which Washington’s long-running feud with Iran is driven by oil, but there is no question that the current crisis bears heavily on global oil supply prospects, both through Iran’s threats to close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for forthcoming sanctions on Iranian oil exports, and the likelihood that any air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities will lead to the same thing.  Either way, the U.S. military would undoubtedly assume the lead role in destroying Iranian military capabilities and restoring oil traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. This is the energy-driven crisis that just won’t go away.

How Energy Drives the World


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All of these disputes have one thing in common: the conviction of ruling elites around the world that the possession of energy assets—especially oil and gas deposits—is essential to prop up national wealth, power, and prestige.

This is hardly a new phenomenon.  Early in the last century, Winston Churchill was perhaps the first prominent leader to appreciate the strategic importance of oil.  As First Lord of the Admiralty, he converted British warships from coal to oil and then persuaded the cabinet to nationalize the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the forerunner of British Petroleum (now BP).  The pursuit of energy supplies for both industry and war-fighting played a major role in the diplomacy of the period between the World Wars, as well as in the strategic planning of the Axis powers during World War II.  It also explains America’s long-term drive to remain the dominant power in the Persian Gulf that culminated in the first Gulf War of 1990-91 and its inevitable sequel, the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The years since World War II have seen a variety of changes in the energy industry, including a shift in many areas from private to state ownership of oil and natural gas reserves.  By and large, however, the industry has been able to deliver ever-increasing quantities of fuel to satisfy the ever-growing needs of a globalizing economy and an expanding, rapidly urbanizing world population.  So long as supplies were abundant and prices remained relatively affordable, energy consumers around the world, including most governments, were largely content with the existing system of collaboration among private and state-owned energy leviathans.

But that energy equation is changing ominously as the challenge of fueling the planet grows more difficult.  Many of the giant oil and gas fields that quenched the world’s energy thirst in years past are being depleted at a rapid pace.  The new fields being brought on line to take their place are, on average, smaller and harder to exploit.  Many of the most promising new sources of energy—like Brazil’s “pre-salt” petroleum reserves deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean, Canadian tar sands, and American shale gas—require the utilization of sophisticated and costly technologies.  Though global energy supplies are continuing to grow, they are doing so at a slower pace than in the past and are continually falling short of demand.  All this adds to the upward pressure on prices, causing anxiety among countries lacking adequate domestic reserves (and joy among those with an abundance).

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By prosefights, May 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

Jerry Brown tweeted at the right time?

Scroll down to Iran website posts, then google

‘aboulghassem zirakzadeh’

This matter goes back to 1958.

Then google ‘fred fair donald rumsfeld’.

Fred and bill both attended summer school at the University of Colorado in 1958.

Fred and bill are graduates of Shattuck School 1956.

Report this

By prosefights, May 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

‘If Iran went for Solar, they wouldn’t need nuclear energy’ 

Large-scale solar generation of electricity may be a scam>

We are investigating.

Google Case No. 12-000007-ut’


Tuesday April 3, 2012 06:00

The US produces only 7% of the uranium it consumes, Byron King reported.

Written material has the problem that it is written by authors. And they cannot be trusted. Especially MSM.

Five new generators are on track for completion this decade, including two reactors approved just a few weeks ago (the first new reactor approvals in the US in over 30 years). Those will add to the 104 reactors that are already in operation around the country and already produce 20% of the nation’s power.
Those reactors will eat up 19,724 tonnes of U3O8 this year, which represents 29% of global uranium demand. If that seems like a large amount, it is! The US produces more nuclear power than any other country on earth, which means it consumes more uranium that any other nation. However, decades of declining domestic production have left the US producing only 4% of the world’s uranium.

With so little homegrown uranium, the United States has to import more than 80% of the uranium it needs to fuel its reactors. Thankfully, for 18 years a deal with Russia has filled that gap. The “Megatons to Megawatts” agreement, whereby Russia downblends highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads to create reactor fuel, has provided the US with a steady, inexpensive source of uranium since 1993. The problem is that the program is coming to an end next year.

The Upside to a Natural Gas Downturn
Marin Katusa, for The Daily Reckoning
Monday April 2, 2012

Friday April 13, 2012 06:33

Electricity production, not nuclear weapons, is at issue?

Reports suggest that America’s second demand will be the export of Iran’s stockpile of medium-enriched uranium.

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By stand to reason, May 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The unfettered global market, aka the club, everybody is in it
like it or not, except when it comes to energy then there is no
club anymore, it is something like the g20 against the rest of the
world. Absolutely astounding. That’s the way the milton
friedman economics works.

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By Alan MacDonald, May 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

Wonder what Klare thinks of Steve Coll’s new book, “Private Empire; ExxonMobil and American Power”?

Wonder if the post-nation-state DGE (Disguised Global Empire) will be dominated by the fading nation-states or the newer global corporate-states?

Most likely, probably, an alliance hybrid of the two forms of Empire—- but certainly against what used to be called the citizens of the world, or now more correctly the “subjects of the world”, most certainly including the 99% of Americans about to be brought to heel.

Best luck and love to the “Occupy Empire” educational and revolutionary movement.

Liberty, democracy, equality & justice

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., May 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

I wonder what the true cost of a barrel of oil is when
all things are factored in to it’s production?
Likely one of the costliest resources in our solar
And then there is water. Quietly (mostly), under the
radar, countries have been acquiring water rights. The
time is coming soon when access to water will be the
bloodiest disputes in the history of humans.

Report this

By Big B, May 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Who would have ever thought that, instead of concentrating on the developement and distribution of green energy sources, the world would take up arms slaughter each other for every last remaining drop of oil, lump of coal, and cubic meter of gas?

Oh, that’s right, I did. Have for years. We’re humans, we just can’t help ourselves.

The next 30 years are going to be bloody. And at the end, we won’t have any carbon resources left and 110 degree days here in the upper Ohio valley will be the norm.

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By Jack W. Scott, May 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

No, americanme, not at all, the U.S. should NOT have any nuclear, either!  No-one should have any nuclear, it is a dangerous scientific oddity that every aspect of should be eliminated.  By the way, I don’t agree with Willard that this should be an American century, Iran and the other nations of the world should be equal partners with us in developing a future powered by Solar Panels, and living sensibly on a planet with Nature restored to prominence.  You may notice that Solar can easily power independent houses and independent, autonomous villiages, this is important for a sensible social architecture for the world.  Solar Panels eliminate America’s need of nuclear, too, and also solve a whole host of various problems.

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americanme's avatar

By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Well, Jack, it appears from your post that you believe the US should still maintain nuclear energy facilities.

Why the US and not Iran?

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By Jack W. Scott, May 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

Solar Panels are the answer these conflicts, and China seems to know it!  If Iran went for Solar, they wouldn’t need nuclear energy, and if the U.S. went for Solar, we wouldn’t need oil!  Presto, problem solved!

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