Unless you are over 50, you will not remember the days before energy exports became a potent geopolitical weapon. At the onset of the second world war, the US supplied about 63 per cent of the world’s oil, with a barrel of oil costing about a dollar (roughly $17 in 2014 dollars). Decades later, an important shift took place when the US reached its peak oil production in 1970; as output became squeezed, oil was shifting from a suppliers’ market to a demand market.
The low energy prices of the 1960s and early 1970s are unlikely ever to return, but with the development of new drilling technologies in the US and a surge of new production there and elsewhere, the balance of power has begun to shift yet again. And in 2014, the impact of that trend on global oil markets – and on international politics – will begin to emerge. Continue reading »