Myths of the Oil Boom: American National Security in a Global Energy Market

Myths of the Oil Boom: American National Security in a Global Energy Market

Myths of the Oil Boom: American National Security in a Global Energy Market

Myths of the Oil Boom: American National Security in a Global Energy Market

Synopsis

The last decade has seen a far-reaching revolution in the oil industry, both in the US and globally. By some measures, America is on pace to become the world's biggest oil producer in the next decade, an outcome that was inconceivable just a few years ago. But does this shift mean that the US will no longer be beholden to foreign autocrats? That prices will go down for consumers? That the global oil supply is less susceptible to shocks? In Myths of the Oil Boom, Steve A. Yetiv, an award-winning expert on the geopolitics of oil, takes stock of our new era of heightened petroleum production and sets out to demolish both the old myths and misconceptions about oil as well as the new ones that are quickly proliferating. As he explains, increased production in the US will not lead to a reduction in prices, in part because oil is globally traded and OPEC will defend against low prices. America will not intervene less in the Persian Gulf just because it is producing more oil domestically. Saudi Arabia is less willing or able to play global gas pump to the world economy than in the past. Building an electric car industry does not mean that consumers will buy in, but neither is it true that a broad shift toward eco-friendly cars will have very little impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, raising the level of domestic production will never solve America's energy and strategic problems, and may even worsen climate change, unless it is accompanied by a serious national and global strategy to decrease oil consumption. These are just some of the myths that Yetiv takes on in this panoramic account. This is not just an exercise in myth-busting, however; it's also a comprehensive overview of the global geopolitics of oil and America's energy future, cross-cutting some of the biggest security and political issues in world affairs. Accessibly written and sharply argued, Myths of the Oil Boom will reframe our understanding of the most politicized commodity in the world.

Excerpt

Oil is by far the most important energy source in the world, and demand for oil will only increase over time. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA)—the statistical branch of the Department of Energy—estimates that the global use of oil, primarily of petroleum, will increase from 87 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2010 to 97 mb/d in 2020 and 115 mb/d in 2040. The United States has been and remains one of the most influential players in global energy. It has a voracious appetite for oil, accounting for about 22 percent of the world’s daily use, and its behavior in the energy arena is felt worldwide, all the way from wars in the Persian Gulf to the local gasoline pump.

This book addresses a farrago of notions about oil security in general and American oil security in particular that are overly optimistic or under-appreciated, and, in so doing, helps illuminate oil security broadly. Oil security can be defined in various ways, but I define it as having three aspects. The first is about achieving reasonable oil prices, which are shaped by numerous economic, political, and security factors. We can all debate what the term “reasonable oil prices” really means, but large spikes in oil prices or oil shocks that cause major economic dislocation are problematic. In fact, such disruptions . . .

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