Monday, February 23, 2009

Arctic Oil Wars

Arctic Oil Wars
Andre Willers
24 Feb 2009

Low oil prices force oil producers to fight about new low-cost sources (such as Arctic Ocean ) instead of accumulating reserves to exploit higher-cost renewable energy resources .
See "Financial Crises" , ""New Tools" , et al .

Sakhalin Island .
Shell and Russian companies have developed technologies to exploit deep sea oil and gas deposits in semi-frozen conditions under a Production Sharing Agreement(PSA) .

Arctic Ocean .
This technology will give them a crucial advantage as the Arctic ice-pack melts .
They are drilling now .

Ownership of resources and routes .

Ownership of resources:
The National States involved (Canada , US , Russia , Norway , Iceland , Greenland , plus anybody else that can think of a way to horn in ) , plus international companies (like Shell , BP , Exxon , Gazprom , etc ) , all will have claims , backed up by military force and court action .
The resource sites will probably be very evenly distributed , due to the lack of meteor impact sites from out of the ecliptic .

Ownership of Routes:
Pipeline and tanker routes will be even more subject to uncertainties . Expect semi-official states of war and letters of marquee .

The Wars of the National Champions .
No nation state can be directly involved in a confrontation , as each is under a nuclear umbrella .

But their champions can .

Putin deliberately formed the Russian response to capitalism as companies like Gazprom that are profit-orientated , but sensitive to state needs . The state is the majority shareholder .

The western systems are exactly the same . Ownership and management are divorced.
Management might want to pursue short-term profit , but ownership (especially after this last collapse) will enforce longer-term views .

Both have their strengths and weaknesses .
They will fight it out in the Arctic in a battle of relative advantages . Very reminiscent of the 1600's , before the knockout wars of 1759 .

Mercenary companies in the service of companies will battle it out for strictly limited objectives .

A rather romantic period .

The last hurrah of oil before the singularity .

More ice in your drink ?



Interesting references :
1. "Petrostate" by M. Goldman ISBN 978-0-19-534073-0 (Oxford University Press 2008)
2. Henry Kuttner's "Venus" mercenary companies are a relevant exploration of the alternatives here .

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