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Home Archive August 2009 Issue

August 2009 Issue

One Year On: Covering Global Energy Security

This first-year anniversary issue of the Journal of Energy Security (JES) coincides with August 27, 1859 anniversary of Colonel Edwin Drake’s striking oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania.  While oil has fueled economic growth and personal mobility in the form of the automobile, Gal Luft, Executive Director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, asks ‘Whose birthday is it really?’ It’s high time we re-evaluate oil’s role not only in the transportation field but also on its potential impact 150 years from today.  On changing the transportation landscape away from oil to newer fuels, particularly electricity, Keith Evans one of the world’s leading experts on lithium dispels the myth that there isn’t enough of this material to go around.    Battery materials aside, the JES will run a number of articles on critical materials applicable to the entire energy complex over the next twelve months in effort to examine in real detail some of the material-related complexities of the energy security debate.  

Keeping with our commitment to covering energy security from experts around the globe, conflict in Nigeria’s Niger Delta is examined from an African perspective from JES contributor Dr. Victor Ojakorotu in South Africa.  Dr. Ojakorotu offers up not only poignant analysis of how militancy in the Delta has spiraled out of control but what steps states and oil companies can take in order to avoid the calamities that the Nigerian people and government have experienced.  From the Niger Delta we turn to Southeast Asia to examine critical energy infrastructure protection within an ASEAN context.  Collin S.L. Koh  and colleague Alvin Chew, at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University point out some of the region’s risks to its own critical infrastructure even as it constructs a Trans-Asian Energy Network. 
 
From ETH Zurich’s Center for Security Studies contributors Matthew Hulbert and Anahita Arian examine how oil producing states  have largely avoided political catastrophe against the backdrop in the 2009 plunge in the price of oil and the unfortunate lessons they may take from this experience into the future.  Finally, the overlooked issue of Russian coal is examined.  Russia is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of steam and coking coal.  It is also one of the world’s most energy intense economies.  The question being asked is whether European consumers, having selected natural gas as the fuel of choice for power generation, may drive natural gas-rich but production-stagnant Russia to opt for new coal fired power generation in the future?   These issues and more give us pause to consider the risks and rewards of sorting through our own energy conundrum.  As the American science fiction writer Frank Herbert is to have said, “The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.”   

editor@iags.org

 

Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection: The Case of the Trans-ASEAN Energy Network

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are boldly moving forward in shoring up energy and power security through the creation of the Trans-ASEAN Energy Network.  However in doing so they run the risk of creating new vulnerabilities from network linked cascading failures caused by nature or man.  What can or should ASEAN member states do in shoring up their own critical energy infrastructure against persistent threats spread across the region?

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Dirty Hands: Russian Coal, GHG Emissions & European Gas Demand

Since 2002 the US Department of Energy has signaled that over time Russia would supplant natural gas power generation with coal in order to free up natural gas for export.  In 2006 then President Putin underscored this in his annual address to the nation’s lawmakers by challenging the country to add new coal and nuclear fired generating capacity to the nation’s power arsenal.  Concurrent with these developments have been decades of growing dependency on Russian natural gas by the European Union.  Are there links between these developments and can we even begin to imagine what would be the environmental impact of a coal fired Russia?

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Oil’s 150th Anniversary: Whose Happy Birthday?

Over the past 150 years oil has transformed modern society.  At the same time it has been the subject of war and conflict, piracy and theft, wealth and prosperity.   It has an unprecedented impact on nations’ foreign policies and the willingness and ability of many oil producing nations to skew domestic policies in their own political favor.  To obviate growing oil dependency on a handful of nations the transportation sector requires transformation.  When and how this occurs is among this century’s greatest challenges.

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After the Oil Bubble: Unlearned Lessons & Political Back-sliding

Oil producers may feel they've been through a near-death experience as a result of their roller-coaster price ride over 2008-2009.  But the lows may not have been low enough and pain limited sufficiently to catalyze real economic diversification across oil economies.  As a result political resilience has been the order of the day with the result that resource nationalism is likely to rise across the board in producer states keen to strengthen their political hands and refill state coffers once more. 

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Militancy and Oil Violence in the Niger Delta

According to South African Niger Delta specialist Victor Ojakorotu, the escalation in violence in the Niger Delta and the activism and militancy that has followed could have been avoided, at least in magnitude, through more thoroughly considered policies of the Nigerian state and oil companies operating in the region.  Now the violence has escalated out of control with criminality and advancing militarism. Ojakorotu points out not only what went wrong in the Delta but what solutions are available the next time a similar situation may emerge.

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Applying Advanced Technology for Threat Assessment: A Case Study of the BTC Pipeline

Applying Advanced Technology for Threat Assessment: A Case Study of the BTC Pipeline

The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline runs 1,100 miles through some of the roughest terrain on earth.   It also traverses close to some of the most volatile conflict zones on the planet including South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and southeastern Turkey populated by the PKK militant group.  Layering topographical data with socio-economic indicators is a new approach towards highlighting hot points along physical infrastructure.  The BTC pipeline provides an outstanding case for this technology's application.

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The Future of Electric Vehicles: Setting the Record Straight on Lithium Availability

Billions of dollars in taxpayer funds are being allocated by the U.S. government for the development of electric vehicles and the batteries to power them.  The aim is to reduce the country's dependence upon imported oil.  Although a number of systems are contenders the major effort is directed at lithium-ion batteries.  Reports in 2007 and 2008 by Meridian International Research suggested that lithium resources would be inadequate to support large scale production and for a while this negative assessment caused considerable consternation amongst battery and motor vehicle manufacturers.  This article sets the record straight on lithium availability.  In short, there is more than enough of this critical material to go around.

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