Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Energy Security: A Paradigm Shift

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

Energy Security: A Paradigm Shift

Article excerpt

Since the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, energy security has been among the highest priorities in the security strategies and policies of developed countries. The potential risks and threats related to energy security mainly grew out of two circumstances: the predicted upcoming production peak of hydrocarbon resources vital for the modem economy, and the security of their supplies. Two key factors in the past years, however, have dramatically changed the energy sector. The first factor is the global economic crisis of the 2010s, and the other is the strategic shock from the yield of non-conventional hydrocarbon resources. Today, energy security policy requires a paradigm shift and a new model of factors and conditions for its implementation. This article offers an analysis and assessment of the changes demanding a new paradigm of efficient energy security that is adequate to the changed realities of energy markets and global economic development.

The Old Paradigm* 1

The concept of energy security that dominated for almost forty years (following the energy crisis of the 1970s) was rooted in the relatively plentiful availability of and easy access to fossil fuels, while the main threat to global energy security was considered to be the discontinuation of energy supplies. Thus, the old paradigm could be briefly summarized as "stable and continuous supplies at affordable prices." The significance of this problem was suggested by the common statement of geopolitical strategists, investment bankers, geologists, and physicists on the foreseeable depletion of oil and natural gas, and by the "final countdown" that had started in the production of hydrocarbon resources at an acceptable "energy price."2 This fact, as well as the severe competition for energy resources due to increasing demand and consumption in developed and emerging economies, shaped the context of energy policies.

This was a period when the major consumers of energy resources (the U.S., EU, China, and India) were highly dependent on the producing countries dominating the energy market from the Middle East and the Caspian region, Russia, etc. The basic principles of the energy market were energy nationalism, the active role of "transit" countries, and the domination of producers over consumers.

Energy nationalism was the major principle that shaped the behavior of the key participants on the energy market, whether they were producing countries, transit countries, or heavy consumers of energy resources.3 Energy nationalism created a reality where the behavior and decisions of energy markets and the supply of resources ultimately depended not on economic market factors but rather on the producers, whereas the energy market turned into an arena of interstate relations. Oil and natural gas were used as geopolitical weapons, while energy geopolitics and geoeconomics became the most essential part of global politics and the foreign policy of the key players on the energy market.

Energy (resource) nationalism is typical of exporting countries rich in hydrocarbon resources. As a rule, they follow the scenario of a phenomenon that experts diagnose as "the resource curse,"4 or "the Dutch disease."5 Its common feature is slow social and economic development of the country due to a lack of domestic economic stimuli, and because of local political elites who take advantage of the high export revenues to maintain closed political regimes. The main consequences are weak government institutions or authoritarian governments, restriction of civil and political liberties, lack of an independent judicial system and independent political parties, low economic effectiveness, and underdevelopment of the economy outside the extraction sector.

Negative internal economic and socio-political implications of the "resource curse" are the main reason for the big producers of resources to implement highly accentuated policies of energy nationalism. …

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