As China's far-flung energy acquisition strategy comes a cropper, the geopolitics of China's 'near abroad' is getting dicey.
Cindy Hurst gives an overview of China's thinking in regard to thorium and the actions it is taking to develop the first thorium molten salt reactor.
Luft in the Wall Street Journal: Asia's energy landscape today is a cluster of segregated markets. A change may be in order.
Luft in Foreign Policy: Putin isn’t trying to win the Cold War -- he’s refighting the battles of World War I.
Luft and McFarlane in the Wall Street Journal: The U.S. needs a strategy to insulate the global economy from ruinous energy shocks.
Woolsey and Korin in the Wall Street Journal: Russia needs a $117 per barrel price of oil to balance its budget. Let's aim for $60.
Many Chinese officials believe that US self-suffi ciency in
energy, should it come to pass, would weaken US interest in the Persian Gulf,
leading to a military and diplomatic withdrawal from the region. They worry
that this could, in turn, compromise China's energy security, exposing it to
supply disruptions due to the region's chronic instability and forcing it to
assume responsibility over the security of the Persian Gulf. Gal Luft weighs in.
At a time when the recent oil and gas boom in the
United States has generated great hopes for energy independence
in North America, its implications on U.S. policies in the Middle East have been widely misunderstood. Contrary to common understandings, the
United States is not dependent on Persian Gulf oil, but remains
affected by the global oil prices which are partly determined by
the political environment in the Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) region. The U.S. energy transition is unlikely to shield
the U.S. economy from oil price fluctuations emanating from the
MENA region and thus even less likely to weaken U.S. diplomatic
and military commitment to the region.
Americans never quite understood the 1973 Arab oil embargo, and they're living with the consequences today. The problem was not that the country was dependent on Middle Eastern oil but that it was -- and still is -- unable to keep the price of oil under control. And as long as petroleum-only cars are effectively the only game in town, all the fracking in the world won't change that.
America is facing an energy-security paradox. Our domestic oil production is on the rise; the cars that roll onto our roads are more efficient than ever, and net oil imports are at their lowest level since the days when President George Herbert Walker Bush lived in the White House. Yet none of this has reined in the price of gasoline. This runs counter to U.S. conventional wisdom over the past forty years, touted by every president since Richard Nixon.
Summary: The U.S. is awash in natural gas—a historic surplus that has driven domestic prices to lows not seen in decades. But amid this sea change, a surprising debate has arisen: Are gas exports bad for the U.S. economy?.
Summary: The United States stands on the cusp of a global strategic advantage of huge significance. It is now within our grasp to cut the Gordian knot of energy policy, transforming our economic prospects in a fairly short period. Seizing this advantage does not require or depend on an esoteric technological breakthrough. It does not require allied assistance. It does not require a great deal of citizen sacrifice, discipline or patience. It does not require new taxes or convoluted cap-and-trade schemes. It merely requires that the Administration and the U.S. Congress get their collective head straight for once about a policy area in which politically ecumenical futility has been the norm for nearly forty years.
Summary: On December 16th, 2011, Gal Luft testified on the topic Changing Energy Markets and US National Security before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Summary: While Russia is certainly a challenge for Europe’s energy security, Moscow’s energy strategy is not
necessarily entirely detrimental to U.S. vital interests. The strong Trans-Atlantic relations between Europe and the United States should
not dictate blind American support for the EU’s energy security interests. Neither should they mask the benefits and opportunities that some of the components of Russia’s strategy hold for Washington
Summary: Despite the harsh sanctions imposed on it by the United States and United Nations, Iran continues to steadily accumulate geopolitical clout. Many commentators point to the fact that the cascading series of revolutions in the Middle East has given the region's Shiite communities, which are allied with Iran, greater influence. But even more important is Tehran's recent success in strengthening its role as an indispensable international energy supplier. By focusing on financial sanctions rather than the Islamic Republic's plans to become a global energy superpower, Washington policymakers have enabled Iran's rise.
Summary: To outmaneuver OPEC, the market needs to be able to react dynamically. That means giving purchasers
of fuel the ability to choose a different fuel at the pump if it's cheaper that day than gasoline or diesel.
Summary: The Middle Eastern oil cartel celebrates its 50th anniversary this week. Here's how to keep it from running our lives for another half-century.
Summary: How Brazilian ethanol could help Iran outwit American sanctions.
Summary: Over the past few years, China has come under increasing scrutiny and
criticism over its monopoly of the rare earth industry and for gradually reducing
export quotas of these resources. However, China is faced with its own internal
issues that, if not addressed, could soon stress the country's rare earth industry.
This paper is designed to give the reader a better understanding of what
rare earth elements are and their importance to society in general and to U.S.
defense and energy policy in particular. It also explores the history of rare
earth elements and China's current monopoly of the industry, including possible
repercussions and strategic implications if rare earth elements supply were to be
Summary: Since the world can't seem to agree on cutting carbon emissions, maybe it's time to try an easier but equally important target: oil.
Summary: One hundred and fifty years ago last Thursday, in the sleepy lumber town of Titusville, Pa., “Colonel” Edwin Drake was persistently hammering a pipe into the ground in search of a replacement for depleting whale oil as a fuel for lamps. At a depth of 69 feet below ground he finally struck oil, and the world changed forever.
Summary: Gal Luft describes in the Chicago Tribune how Muammar Gaddafi succeeded, using his oil wealth, in bringing the world's least belligerent nation to its knees.
Summary: Environmentalists may be horrfied by the appearance of the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, but micro-cars can be engines of prosperity in more ways then one if they only offered the world’s poor more than the false hope of indefinite cheap gasoline.
Summary: Gal Luft describes the international security implications of growing global dependence on Middle East oil.
Summary: Every year that passes without Congressional action to ensure that new cars
sold in America are platforms on which fuels—in the form both of electricity and
of various liquids—can compete is another year in which millions of gasoline-only
vehicles roll onto U.S. roads, further binding us to foreign oil and OPEC’s whims.
Summary: Gal Luft tesified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on ways to break oil's monopoly in the transportation sector.
Summary: When the founding fathers declared our independence, they could not have imagined that, 232 years later, the United States would be so spectacularly dependent on foreign countries.
Summary: Anne Korin tesified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Rising oil prices and national security.
Summary: Gal Luft tesified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on sovereign wealth funds.
Summary: IAGS congratulates Senior Fellow Dr. Isaac Berzin for his inclusion in TIME Magazine's 2008 list of the world's 100 most influential people. Berzin received this honor for his important scientific contribution to the development of alternative fuels and for his leadership role in the global movement to end the world's oil dependence.
Summary: In the context of $100 oil, Sovereign Wealth Funds owned by petrostates
have potential to upset the West's economic and political sovereignty.
Summary: Dependence on Russian crude oil and natural gas as well as government control
over the oil and gas sectors best summarize Poland's energy situation.
Summary: While the U.S. continues to pursue LNG as a way to diversify its natural gas resources in order to meet anticipated
future shortfalls and increase energy security, opponents and proponents of LNG have been locked in a bitter debate with no solid conclusion.
Proponents are correct in that both safety and security measures currently in place make LNG terminals and ships extremely hard targets for
terrorists. However, it would be imprudent to believe that terrorists are either incapable or unwilling to attack such targets. It would be
equally imprudent to assume that these targets are impenetrable.
Summary: Every day, more of the world’s oil comes from a secretive gang of countries that couldn’t care less about your gasoline bill. Gal Luft offers a way in which consumers can fight back
Summary: You hear it all the time: We've got to reduce our dependence on foreign oil; it's a matter of homeland security. Fine. Nobody's arguing. But the solutions that get offered -- drilling in ANWR, mandating better automobile fuel efficiency, pushing ethanol -- don't really solve anything. They're politically impossible, or too expensive, or contrary to free-market forces. They're losers. Energy-independence advocate Gal Luft looks for winners. What separates him from other energy specialists are his pragmatic solutions. He doesn't peddle pie-in-the-sky political strategies. He's a realist. He has a single goal: freeing America from the grip of foreign oil. And he wants to do it now. He offers four ways to solve the energy crisis which also happen to be four reasons why Gal Luft is the most hated man in Riyadh, Detroit, and Des Moines.
Summary: Conventional wisdom, concerned only with smooth functioning of the market, says that ownership of oil is meaningless, that it does not matter much if most of the world’s oil is owned by one regime or the other. But in the case of the Middle East resource ownership does matter.
Summary: At first glance, Iran looks like an energy superpower. It is the second largest oil producer in the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It owns 11 percent of the world's conventional oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia. It also sits on
16 percent of the world's gas reserves, the largest reserve after Russia. A closer look, however, reveals that Iran's energy sector is a house of cards. It is neglected, crumbling and underinvested.
Summary: President Bush announced his intention to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a way to strengthen America's energy security. The 20-year effort to increase the emergency stockpile from its current capacity, 691 million barrels, to 1.5 billion barrels would provide enough oil to compensate for a loss of nearly 100 days of net oil imports, almost double today's reserve. The administration should consider a radically different and much cheaper approach to boosting our security: make ANWR our strategic reserve.
Summary: China's rapid economic growth has led it to scour the world for energy resources. Across the globe, China’s efforts to acquire oil are far-reaching and aggressive. However, all along the way, China’s efforts are being met with political, economic, strategic and environmental roadblocks. Faced with the challenge of trying to overcome many hurdles, China has been taking many steps, some more controversial than others, to achieve its goals.
Summary: As tension between Sunnis and Shi'ites mounts from Iraq to Lebanon another front is opening in the deepening strife between the two parts of the Muslim world: The race to acquire nuclear capabilities.
Summary: Ahmadinejad has placed Iran on a course to immunity from international sanctions by addressing its prime vulnerbility, refining capacity, with
a three pronged strategy: building refineries, strengthening relationships with refined products exporting countries unlikely to abide by a sanctions regime, and most importantly,
shifting Iran's transportation fleet from gasoline to natural gas.
Summary: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, an Oxford and Cambridge-trained economist not given to careless exaggeration, recently referred to a domestic political crisis as "the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country". Yet despite the longtime prominence of this problem within India and its potentially catastrophic effects on India's energy sector, many energy analysts outside of India are unaware of its existence. The security challenge in question is posted by the Naxalites, a loosely organized group of "Maoists" who now have an estimated 20,000 soldiers under arms and are waging a war against the Indian state, terrorizing and destabilizing much of the Indian countryside. The success or failure of their campaign against the government will have profound consequences for India's stability, and, most particularly, its energy security. For the Naxalite insurgency is strongest precisely in the areas of India with the richest natural resources, especially the coal which powers the Indian economy.
Summary: Africa has become a key oil exporter to China. In 2005 China imported
nearly 701,000 bpd of oil from Africa, approximately 30 percent of its total oil imports. China anticipates increasing that amount to 25 percent in the next ten years and has been carefully paving the way to ensure its objective is met.
Summary: Islamic terrorists have identified the world energy system as the Achilles' heel of the West and have made attacking it a central part of their plan. With just 1 million barrels a day of spare capacity, there is almost no wiggle room in the oil market to compensate for supply disruptions. Striking oil, which jihadists call "the provision line and the feeding to the artery of the life of the crusader's nation," is relatively easy and effective.
Summary: As we come to grips with the tragedy wrought by Hurricane Katrina, three of the
worst structural flaws in the nation's energy system must be examined: the overconcentration of oil and
gas infrastructure in the part of the country most prone to natural disasters, the lack of refining capacity
and the near-complete dependence of vehicles on petroleum.
Summary: Iran's decision to resume its uranium conversion activity in defiance of Europe and the United States raises the specter of sanctions imposed against Tehran by the U.N. Security Council. Sanctions always have been a favorite punishment against the rogue state. But as the Iraqi case shows, they are easily breached and do little to bring about behavioral change. In Iran's case, economic sanctions may be a double-edged sword. IAGS' Gal Luft notes that before we tout them we must carefully assess whether they would be effective and who would be the prime casualty of such a policy.
Summary: The number of pirate attacks worldwide has tripled in the past decade, and new evidence
suggests that piracy is becoming a key tactic of terrorist groups. In light of al Qaeda's professed
aim of targeting weak links in the global economy, this new nexus is a serious threat: most of the
world's oil and gas is shipped through pirate-infested waters.
Nearly three years into the global war on terrorism, there is still an incomplete recognition
of the strategic importance of energy security. The current focus on energy security remains
lacking and limited, with a rather outdated reliance on the more traditional perspective of
concentrating on the risks posed by instability and insecurity in the Middle Eastern oil-producing region.
The Middle Eastern theater mandates such focus for three reasons: by virtue of its role as the major source
and gateway for global energy, due to the instability rooted in the very nature of its regimes, and as the
original source of the new wave of Islamist terrorism.
The energy security of the United States is closely linked to the state of its water resources.
No longer can water resources be taken for granted if the U.S. is to achieve energy security in
the years and decades ahead. At the same time, U.S. water security cannot be guaranteed without
careful attention to related energy issues. The two issues are inextricably linked, as this article
Every American president since Richard Nixon has promised to reduce America's demand for oil while
investing in new energy sources. Largely due to lack of political will, all have failed.
Rather than a sustained, comprehensive effort to reduce demand for oil, America's energy plan
has never been much more than a compendium of subsidies and tax breaks playing to the interests of
A new study titled "Carrying the Energy Future: Comparing Hydrogen and Electricity for Transmission,
Storage and Transportation" by the Seattle based Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment (ILEA),
evaluated the energy penalties incurred in using hydrogen to transmit energy as compared to those incurred
While recognized standards exist for the systematic safety analysis of potential spills or releases
from LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) storage terminals and facilities on land, no equivalent set of
standards or guidance exists for the evaluation of the safety or consequences from LNG spills
over water. Heightened security awareness and energy surety issues have increased industry’s
and the public’s attention to these activities. The Sandia National Laboratories report reviews several existing studies of LNG
spills with respect to their assumptions, inputs, models, and experimental data. Based on this
review and further analysis, the report provides guidance on the appropriateness of models,
assumptions, and risk management to address public safety and property relative to a potential
LNG spill over water.
In recent years there has been increased awareness of
the risk of terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities, which
could have widespread consequences for the
environment and for public health. This POSTnote is a
summary of a longer report on this issue, which has
been prepared by POST, following a request from the
House of Commons Defence Select Committee in July
2002 in its report on Defence and Security in the UK.