Energy flows in a politically polarized world
World War II strongly influenced the energy future of the world. To the victor come the spoils. Had the war commencing in 1939 been concluded on terms favorable to the Axis powers, one might imagine them in possession of the Soviet Union's Baku fields, much of the Middle East, and the Netherlands East Indies. What an impact such an outcome would have had on the Allied powers and on the giant firms that dominated the world oil industry. Far more was at risk than oil or other natural resources, but one can still conjecture that the economies and societies of Britain, the USA, and other nations would have evolved quite differently had the Axis dictated terms of access to Middle East oil.
Each of the major belligerents committed substantial resources to securing a fuel supply sufficient for the prosecution of a highly mobilized conflict fought on distant and shifting fronts. Germany and Japan, without domestic oil reserves and the latter without adequate coal, planned campaigns to conquer fuel-producing regions while investing heavily during the 1930s in the development of synthetic fuel technologies. In both nations the production of coal, the chief feed stock for synthetics, enjoyed high priority.
Neither Britain nor the United States made provisions before 1939 for an emergency fuel supply. The UK felt reasonably secure. British companies controlled the largest oil fields in the Middle East and operated successfully in safe regions in the western hemisphere. A more than adequate domestic coal supply was available. For its part, the USA