The Western geopolitics of energy supply: a short-sighted approach to the global energy shift

in Peak Oil by

Map for the
INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON OIL DEPLETION
Uppsala, Sweden, May 23-25, 2002
Organized by Uppsala University and ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil

The Western geopolitics of energy supply: a short-sighted approach to the global energy shift
Susanne Peters, Giessen University, Germany.

We are currently in the middle of a third energy shift: from the coal to the fossil fuel era towards a sustainable energy regime. But instead of acknowledging this undeniable fact and prepare for the transition to the post-fossil era with a regime based on alternative energy, the US, and EU/European politicians rely on the short-sighted policy approach of defining energy supply crises as a risk and threat which have to be dealt with by security policy procedures. While this is not a new phenomenon for US foreign policy where energy has traditionally been viewed as a vital national security interest, in the European context a geopolitical approach to energy is a further constituent in the build-up of the European Unions identity as a regional power bloc with an independent foreign and security policy. The Western geopolitical concern of energy supply is manifest in three spheres which will be discussed in more detail in the paper: short-term energy supply crises, the question of pipeline security, as well as the danger of nationalization of energy investment by Western investors in North Africa and the Middle East. In the concluding section, the Wests military power projection towards the Southern shores of the Mediterranean and the Middle East will be discussed, as manifest in recent European endeavors to militarize the Western Mediterranean and NATOs claim for out-of-area actions in this region.

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