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The stability of oil supply takes another hit

The stability of oil supply takes another hit

The all-out war in Georgia finally moved from page 14A to the front page in my local paper today: about time. But the story leaves out entirely one of the most important elements of the conflict: the oil factor. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline runs from Azerbaijan to Turkey through Georgia and, with a one-million-barrels-per day capacity, is a key provider of energy for the EU and the United States. In fact, along with the sister Baku-Supsa Pipeline, it’s the sole supply link for oil resources in this area that wasn’t controlled by Russia or Iran.

Bonus points for you if you recognize the destruction of this pipeline as the world-shattering MacGuffin in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough.

News reports in the U.S. seem to downplay the oil angle, probably in hopes of maintaining the recent slide in oil prices. But the threat is very real – not just that hostilities will damage the B-T-C pipeline (which is already shut down for the moment due to PKK insurgency last week in Turkey), but that Russia will seize control of the pipeline and use it as a tool to control prices and exert power over the West. Indeed, that may be a prime reason for the Russian attack on Georgia. As noted in earlier posts, in the World Without Oil game, players predicted aggressive moves such as this by the new petropowers to consolidate their energy control…. As with Iraq, if oil is not the #1 reason given for invasion, it will be a faithful and constant #2. Photo by YourLocalDave via Flickr.

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AlterNetAs player Warnwood told us, “the war is in words” – and here’s Michael T. Klare to parse the latest word stratagem from the U.S. Department of Energy. Be sure to read down to the part where it may become necessary for the U.S. to create “more investment-friendly environments” in oil-producing nations. As we have in Iraq?

Alan Greenspan: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” From his book The Age of Turbulence, as reported in the Guardian and widely elsewhere. Greenspan’s comment follows an article by George Packer in the Sept 17 New Yorker that quotes David Kilcullen, a top advisor to General Petraeus, as listing “maintain flow of oil and gas” as the #1 objective for the continuing operations of U.S. forces in Iraq – ahead of fighting Al Qaeda, containing Iran, or preventing Iraqi genocides.

World Without Oil made clear what’s at stake with continued access to petroleum energy. The official reason for the war seems to change monthly… WMDs, democracy, freedom, anti-terror – it seems to be anything BUT oil.

The U.S. Military discovers peak oil.

It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.
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