Russia and Iran Moving to Corner the Mideast Oil Supply?
October 16, 2015 18 Comments
In the Middle East, it is time to follow the money. To me, Steve Chambers makes all the sense in the world here. Russia is at best, a regional power, as we’ve discussed many times here. Jessica, with her usual common sense, reminded us in The Rules of the Great Game, that those rules have not been suspended.
In addition, as Jess mentioned, Europe is critically dependent on Russian oil. They literally can’t afford to offend Putin overmuch. In large measure, North America can fix that, but we’re not working on that either. Sadly, Europe will in large measure pay the price for our shortsightedness, unless we suddenly decide to export oil again. (that bill has passed the House, likely will pass the Senate, and as usual for something in the interest of Western Civilization, Obama says he’ll veto it). Here’s some of the article:
It looks like Vladimir Putin and the ayatollahs are preparing to corner the world’s oil supply – literally.
Last May I wrote on this site that Iran was in the process of surrounding the Saudi/Wahhabi oil reserves, along with those of the other Sunni Gulf petro-states. I added that, “Iran’s strategy to strangle Saudi/Wahhabi oil production also dovetails with Putin’s interests. As the ruler of the second largest exporter of oil, he would be delighted to see the Kingdom’s production eliminated or severely curtailed and global prices soar to unseen levels. No wonder he is so overtly supporting Iran.”
We’ve now seen Putin take a major, menacing step in support of the Iranians by introducing combat forces into Syria. Many analysts argue that he’s doing this both to protect his own naval base at Tartus and as some sort of favor to the Iranians. Are those really sufficient inducement for him to spend scarce resources and risk Russian lives, or does he have bigger ambitions in mind? Given the parlous state of Russia’s economy, thanks in very large part to the recent halving of oil prices, he must relish the opportunity now presented to him, in an axis with Iran, to drive those prices back to prior levels.
The Iranians, for their part, must welcome this opportunity as well, for two huge reasons: first, when sanctions are finally lifted, thanks to their friend in the White House, Iran’s oil production will only aggravate the current global excess oil supply, reducing their cash flow (although they will still repatriate the $150 billion released by the nuclear deal). They and the Russians must both be desperate to find a way to prevent further oil price declines. And second, Iran’s mortal sectarian enemies and rivals for leadership of all of Islam are the Saudi/Wahhabi clan, so the prospect of simultaneously hurting them while strengthening themselves must seem tremendously tantalizing.
OK, obviously disrupting the Arab oil supplies will trow a large spanner in the works of the world’s economy, as it drives oil prices to record highs, China, the US, and Europe all have fragile, and perhaps brittle economies, and yes the ‘refugees’ (even if they are legitimate) already are threatening Europe.
But as so often, North America has the solution, here’s a bit more from the article:
So, Putin and the ayatollahs have powerful motives to corner the world’s oil market and therefore the US and the rest of the world are facing an enormous risk. The horrible pity of this is that the US could easily demonstrate the futility of the Russian-Iranian axis trying to take the world hostage with Mideast oil, simply by opening up our surface deposits of oil shales in the Rockies. As I showed in this analysis last March, these resources could make Mideast oil irrelevant.
The US’ surface oil shales are completely different from the deep shales that are accessed through directional drilling and fracking and that grab all the headlines; the deep shales are a mere side show in terms of reserves. The surface shales hold up to 3 trillion barrels of oil versus about 50 billion barrels of tight oil accessed by fracking. The total global proven reserves of oil are 1.6 trillion barrels, and the Canadian tar sands have 1.6 to 2.5 trillion barrels (although they’re officially listed at 175 billion barrels, which are incorporated in the global total). So, the US and Canada together essentially can triple the global supply of oil, and at prices in the $60-75/barrel range. Meanwhile, Mideast reserves are about 800 billion barrels – half of Canada’s oil sands, perhaps less than a third of the US surface shales. The world no longer needs the Muslim oil.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Rockies surface shales sit on Federal land, and while George W. Bush opened up those lands for development, Obama rescinded that policy. These reserves now sit almost entirely idle.
As with any petroleum deposit, these surface shale reserves can’t be turned on with the wave of a wand. But they can be opened for development with just a pen, and not even a phone. For the protection of this country, and the good of the world, our current president should immediately open these reserves for development, with great fanfare. If he will not use our military to protect our interests, he should at least use our economic weapons.
And so, once more, if the author is correct, as I think he may be, Russia is badly overextended, North America, the United States and Canada, hold the fate of the West, in our hands. But will we do what is necessary, as we always have, or will we play a violin concerto while Western Civilization burns.
We’ll see, but given the timing, I’m not very optimistic.