Geostrategic Solutions to Oil Vulnerabilities in the Gulf Region

Author/s: Ahmad Shikara
1st Edition Year: 2013
Edition: First edition
Language: English
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For the foreseeable future, oil and gas will continue to be major determining geostrategic factors in the process of maintaining security and stability in the Arabian Gulf region. Oil vulnerabilities will continue to be a source of concern both in the region and abroad as long as fossil fuel sources occupy the largest share of the global energy mix. What is apparent, however, is that the largest international consumer of oil (the United States) has yet to devise a comprehensive solution to these vulnerabilities, and other countries are facing their own challenges in finding viable alternative options. This paper intends to explore new models of global governance in producer–consumer relations to ameliorate the adverse effects of oil vulnerabilities such as supply disruptions or “peak oil” scenarios. The paper will also seek to answer some vital questions regarding energy security, encompassing oil resource availability, reliability, affordability, and sustainability. In particular, it seeks to address the following questions, issues and concerns:

• Is there a clear strategic vision for overcoming oil vulnerabilities in the Arab Gulf? And if not, is there a need for one?
• How might major oil vulnerabilities involving transportation ‘choke points’ and critical infra-structure be overcome (i.e. operational mechanisms)?
• To what extent do current geo-political strategies or alternative energy options represent realistic propositions? This requires a cost–benefit analysis: if fossil fuel sources are affordable, will there be viable long-term opportunities to achieve the energy diversification called for in strategic planning?
• What innovative strategies may be employed to overcome oil vulnerabilities in the region? Such strategies should be based on global governance and a well-structured protocol of inter-dependent partnerships between producers and consumers.

Owing to the unpredictability of geopolitical events in general, and in the Middle East in particular, it is difficult to envision the creation of a sustainable energy security strategy to suit both producers and consumers. Nonetheless, it is vital that a dynamic and pragmatic strategy be formulated to avert or mitigate oil vulnerabilities—be it on a multilateral, bilateral or national level.

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