Energy security

Energy security

Energy security is a term for an association between national security and the availability of natural resources for energy consumption. Access to cheap energy has become essential to the functioning of modern economies. However, the uneven distribution of energy supplies among countries has led to significant vulnerabilities. Threats to energy security include the political instability of several energy producing countries, the manipulation of energy supplies, the competition over energy sources, attacks on supply infrastructure, as well as accidents, natural disasters, rising terrorism, and dominant countries reliance to the foreign oil supply.[1] The limited supplies, uneven distribution, and rising costs of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, create a need to change to more sustainable energy sources in the foreseeable future. With as much dependence that the U.S. currently has for oil and with the peaking limits of oil production; economies and societies will begin to feel the decline in the resource that we have become dependent upon. Energy security has become one of the leading issues in the world today as oil and other resources have become as vital to the world's people. However with oil production rates decreasing and oil production peak nearing the world has come to protect what resources we have left in the world. With new advancements in renewable resources, less pressure has been put on companies that produce the world's oil. These resources include geothermal, solar power, wind power and hydro-electric. Although these are not all the current and possible future options for the world to turn to as the oil depletes, the most important issue is protecting these vital resources from future threats. These new resources will become more useful as the price of exporting and importing oil increases due to the increase of demand.


Security threats

The modern world relies on a vast energy supply to fuel everything from transportation to communication, to security and health delivery systems. Due to their vital roles energy sources are logical targets for attacks that seek to weaken infrastructure. That said, threats to energy sources extend beyond basic tactical aggression or terrorism.[2]

One of the leading threats to energy security is the significant increase in energy prices, either on the world markets – as has occurred in a number of energy crises over the years – or by the imposition of price increases by an oligopoly or monopoly supplier, cartel or country. In some cases the threat might come from a single energy superpower – those states able to significantly influence world markets by their action alone. Rather than just manipulating prices, such suppliers might go beyond this by suspending or terminating supplies. This has been done to apply pressure during economic negotiations - such as during the Russia-Belarus energy dispute - or to apply political pressure, for example by OPEC in response to Western support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Suspension of supplies may also come about as a result of worldwide international sanctions against a country.[citation needed]

Energy plays an important role in the national security of any given country as a fuel to power the economic engine.[3] Hence, threats to energy security can also result from physical damage to the energy infrastructure either of the supplier, or of the importer as a result of natural events, misfortune, terrorism, or warfare. The political and economic instability caused by war or other factors such as strike action can also prevent the proper functioning of the energy industry in a supplier country. One example of this would be the United states, the U.S. has over 60% of its imported oil from OPEC countries and have been increasingly more dependent over the last 20 years.[4]

New threats to energy security have emerged in the form of the increased world competition for energy resources due to the increased pace of industrialization in countries such as India and China. Although still a minority concern, the possibility of price rises resulting from the peaking of world oil production is also starting to attract the attention of at least the French government.[5]

Increased competition over energy resources may also lead to the formation of security compacts to enable an equitable distribution of oil and gas between major powers. However, this may happen at the expense of less developed economies. The Group of Five, precursors to the G8, first met in 1975 to coordinate economic and energy policies in the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, a rise in inflation and a global economic slowdown.[6]

NATO leaders meeting in Bucharest in April 2008 may discuss the possibility of using the military alliance "as an instrument of energy security." One of the possibilities include placing troops in the Caucasus region to police oil and gas pipelines.[7][dated info]

Founded by the Germans post 1943 Energy Security has been on the minds of leading political thinkers of late

Energy sector

The energy sector for not only the U.S. but for many other countries fuel the economies in the 21st century. Without these resources and the money coming in from them health and overall welfare will be risked world-wide. Oil has become what oxygen is to humans but for the economy. As the resources near peak production levels the U.S. economy will be threatened and will force other resources and big oil producing companies to start researching new sources of fuel to help revitalize the economy. The energy infrastructure is divided into three interrelated segments: electricity, petroleum and natural gas. Natural gas although very efficient is in decline and becomes very hard to harvest and very dangerous to store. Electricity when produced is very harmful to the environment due to all the greenhouse gases leaked into the atmosphere. With these concerns the U.S. and other countries including Russia and China have been researching new methods of creating electricity in a more clean way.

Long term security

Long term measures to increase energy security center on reducing dependence on any one source of imported energy, increasing the number of suppliers, exploiting native fossil fuel or renewable energy resources, and reducing overall demand through energy conservation measures. It can also involve entering into international agreements to underpin international energy trading relationships, such as the Energy Charter Treaty in Europe. All the concern coming from security threats on oil sources long term security measures will help reduce the future cost of importing and exporting fuel into and out of countries without having to worry about harm coming to the goods being transported.[citation needed]

The impact of the 1973 oil crisis and the emergence of the OPEC cartel was a particular milestone that prompted some countries to increase their energy security. Japan, almost totally dependent on imported oil, steadily introduced the use of natural gas, nuclear power, high-speed mass transit systems, and implemented energy conservation measures,[8] It has become one of the world leaders in the use of renewable energy.[9] The United Kingdom began exploiting North Sea oil and gas reserves, and became a net exporter of energy into the 2000s.[citation needed]

In other countries energy security has historically been a lower priority. The United States, for example, has continued to increase its dependency on imported oil[8] although, following the oil price increases since 2003, the development of biofuels has been suggested as a means of addressing this.[10]

Increasing energy security is also one of the reasons behind a block on the development of natural gas imports in Sweden. Greater investment in native renewable energy technologies and energy conservation is envisaged instead. India is carrying out a major hunt for domestic oil to decrease its dependency on OPEC, while Iceland is well advanced in its plans to become energy-independent by 2050 through deploying 100% renewable energy.[citation needed]

Short term security


Petroleum or otherwise known as "crude oil" has become the resource most used by countries all around the world including Russia, China and the United States of America. With all the oil wells located around the world energy security has become a main issue to ensure the safety of the petroleum that is being harvested. In the middle east oil fields become main targets for sabotage because of how heavily countries rely on oil. Many countries hold strategic petroleum reserves as a buffer against the economic and political impacts of an energy crisis. All 28 members of the International Energy Agency hold a minimum of 90 days of their oil imports, for example.[11][12]

The value of such reserves was demonstrated by the relative lack of disruption caused by the 2007 Russia-Belarus energy dispute, when Russia indirectly cut exports to several countries in the European Union.[citation needed]

Due to the theories in peak oil and need to curb demand, the United States military and Department of Defense had made significant cuts, and have been making a number of attempts to come up with more efficient ways to use oil.[13]

Natural gas

Compared to petroleum, reliance on imported natural gas creates significant short term vulnerabilities. Many European countries saw an immediate drop in supply when Russian gas supplies were halted during the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute in 2006.[citation needed]

Natural gas has been a viable source of energy in the world. Consisting of mostly methane natural gas is produced using two methods, biogenic and thermogenic. Biogenic comes from methogenic organisms located in marshes and landfills where thermogenic comes from buried material that is heated up from the earths core. Russia is the current leading country in production of natural gases. One of the biggest problems currently with natural gas is the ability to storage and transport it. With its low density it becomes harder to have pipelines in North America to transport enough natural gas as the demand increases. These pipelines are reaching near capacity and even at full capacity do not produce the amount of gas needed.[citation needed]

Nuclear power

Sources of uranium delivered to EU utilities in 2007, from the 2007 Annual report of the Euratom Supply Agency

Uranium for nuclear power is mined and enriched in diverse and "stable" countries. These include Canada (23% of the world's total in 2007), Australia (21%), Kazakhstan (16%) and more than 10 other countries. Uranium is mined and fuel is manufactured significantly in advance of need. Nuclear fuel is considered by some to be a relatively-reliable power source, though a debate over the timing of peak uranium does exist. Although a very viable resource nuclear power comes under fire a lot of times because of the danger that people associate to it, nuclear power is stable but if something were to happen there are very little options that have been proposed to fix that problem. Another big factor in the debate with nuclear power is that many people or companies do not want this high waste energy solution near them due to possible radiation leaks, nuclear runoff into streams and lakes and also the nuclear power plant ruins how appealing a city or state looks to other people in the country. Currently nuclear power powers a small fraction of the worlds electricity, but an even smaller fraction to the United States electricity. The incorporation of nuclear power can be seen through many different uses, for example there are currently nuclear powered ships that the navy uses to transport materials, soldiers and other resources. Three of the ships names are the USS Bainbridge, USS Longbeach and the USS Enterprise. A future use for nuclear power resides in space technology, the current way of traveling through space requires a heavy consumption of fossil fuels, however in the near future there are plans to have space shuttles incorporate nuclear power generators on the shuttle which will greatly increase the distance traveled in these units and allow us to observe more of the space around us.[citation needed]

Renewable energy

The deployment of renewable technologies usually increases the diversity of electricity sources and, through local generation, contributes to the flexibility of the system and its resistance to central shocks. For those countries where growing dependence on imported gas is a significant energy security issue, renewable technologies can provide alternative sources of electric power as well as displacing electricity demand through direct heat production. Renewable biofuels for transport represent a key source of diversification from petroleum products.[14] As the resources that have been so crucial to survival in the world to this day start declining in numbers, countries will begin to realize that the need for renewable fuel sources will be as vital as ever. With the production of new types of energy including, solar, geothermal, hydro-electric, biofuel and wind power. With the amount of sun that hits the world in one hour there is enough energy to power the world for one year. With the addition of solar panels all around the world a little less pressure is taken off the need to produce more oil. Geothermal can potentially lead to other sources of fuel, if companies would take the heat from the inner core of the earth to heat up water sources we could essentially use the steam creating from the heated water to power machines, this option is one of the cleanest and efficient options. Hydro-electric which has been incorporated into many of the dams around the world produces a lot of energy and is very easy to produce the energy as the dams control the water that is allowed through seams which power turbines located inside of the dam. Bio-fuels have been researched using many different sources including ethanol and algae, these options are substantially cleaner than the consumption of petroleum.[citation needed]

See also

By area


  1. ^ "Power plays: Energy and Australia's security". Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  2. ^ "The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World". 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  3. ^ "Emerald: Article Request - Sino-Indian cooperation in the search for overseas petroleum resources: Prospects and implications for India". Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Porter, Adam (2005-06-10). "'Peak oil' enters mainstream debate". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  6. ^ Panoptic World: "Globocops of Energy Security" Mathew Maavak, originally published in The Korea Herald on July 18, 2006
  7. ^ "Climate change may spark conflict with Russia, EU told" Guardian, March 10, 2008
  8. ^ a b Oil Crisis, US Senator Bob Bennett, September 27, 2000[dead link]
  9. ^ US Energy Information Administration Country Analysis Briefs, Japan: Environmental Issue, January 2004
  10. ^ CNN: Oil majors question Bush biofuel plan, February 15, 2007[dead link]
  11. ^
  12. ^ Margaret Baker. "Reauthorization of the Energy Policy & Conservation Act". Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Contribution of renewables to Energy Security" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-06-01. 

External links

Additional sources

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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