American Attack on Iran and Geopolitics of Oil

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Since the late 19th century, too many wars have been fought, too many millions died and too many regions of the world have been militarized and destabilized all in the pursuit of ” Oil.” The Bush Administration’s emphasis on oil holds U.S. foreign policy hostage to an energy source. Control of these resources becomes a first-class war aim. Together, oil, coal and gas constitute the biggest single industry in history." Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs."

— The Heat is On (Henry Kissinger)

Oil prices are on the rise in the international markets and touching $58 per barrel. Oil the black gold played very important part in international politics, regional conflicts and global wars. One thing is certain that US will sooner or latter attack on Iran. It is seemed that the establishment and especially hawks in 2nd term of President George W Bush are eager to attack on Iran. But they will never mention oil as a reason for going to war and attack on Iran. It has become living reality that weapons of mass destruction [WMD] was not the so called the “only” reason to attack on Iraq. It is seemed/predicted that same sad story will be repeated with Iran in the near future. The recent past foreign policy of US suggests that an attack on Iran would be justified because of its alleged nuclear potential. More important, any serious assessment of Iran’s strategic importance to the US should focus on its role in the global energy equation. Iran’s immense natural reservoirs of oil& gas would play important role in the international power politics in the days to come because geo-political and socio-economic stakes are very high and no stakeholder wants to give walkover to others.

The in-depth analysis of political history and dirty yet real power game of the world reveals that oil has had been one of the dominant factors in many international conflicts and wars. Through out the human history oil has had been one of the most important reason of wars and deadly conflicts among the different nations, tribes, ethnic groups, and people. Oil was the reason for the 1991 Gulf War, which served as a mechanism for Western countries, especially the United States, to destabilize OPEC, control or regulate the prices of oil and to create a new correlation of forces in favor of the US in the region which contained the world’s major oil reserves. For the same reason, the United States declared war on the “Vietnamese” people. At the time, “Mobil Oil Corporation” was exploring off the coast of what the US referred to as South Vietnam. In the 1990s, Mobil obtained an exploration concession in the same field in which it has been working three decades earlier but later pulled out when it failed to discover commercially viable reserves.

It is the independence of East Timor, continued civilian rift and widespread violence in Angola, the main motive behind the liberation movement of Algeria, the continued power rift between the Bugtis and Mazris tribes in Pakistan, power struggle between the Ijaw and Oloibiri in Nigeria, severe fissure between free Aceh movement and PT Arun Oil Company in Indonesia, unfinished civil war in Sudan, the attack on Afghanistan and Iraq, or the last not the least civil disorder in Chechnya all show/verify one main thing is common i.e. possession over the natural reservoirs of oil the “Black Gold”. England went to war with Argentina over the Malvinas because of oil. It is also alleged estimated that US is manipulating insurgency in Colombia, and Venezuela, reactivation of OPEC by Chavez in Venezuela, the indigenous movement in Ecuador, resurgence of the peasant movement in Bolivia, and the renewal of civil society in Peru after the fall of Fujimori because of possess the unlimited treasures of nature i.e. oil and gas.

Iran occupies a strategic location on the north side of the “Persian Gulf”. Iran is in a strategic position to threaten oilfields of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, which together possess more than half of the world’s known oil reserves. Iran also sits crossways the “Strait of Hormuz”, the narrow waterway through which, daily, 40% of the world’s oil exports pass. In addition, Iran is becoming a major supplier of oil and natural gas to China, Japan, and recently agreements have also been finalized with Pakistan and India gives “Iran” additional clout in world politics and regional affairs. It is these geopolitical dimensions of energy, i.e. “Oil& Gas” the establishment of US is taking all possible measures to corner Iran and “push to the wall policy” is being applied through different ways

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Country

Reserves bn barrels

Production m barrels/day

Saudi Arabia

261.8

8.8

Iraq

112.5

2.4

UAE

97.8

2.4

Kuwait

96.5

2.1

Iran

89.7

4.00

Venezuela

77.7

3.4

Russia

48.6

7.1

US

30.4

7.7

Libya

29.5

1.4

Mexico

26.9

3.6

———————————————– Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy
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Ratios of Untapped Petroleum (2005)

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Country

Ratios of untapped petroleum

Ranking

Saudi Arabia

260 billion barrels

First

Iran

125.8 billion barrels

Second

Iraq

115 billion barrels

Third

———————————————– Source: Oil and Gas Journal (2005)
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With this much oil about one tenth of the world’s estimated total supply Iran is keen to play a key role in the global energy equation. Iran has considerable growth potential. It is now producing about 4 million barrels per day, but is thought to be capable of boosting its output by another 3 million barrels or so.

Detail of Natural Gas Reservoirs (2005)

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Country

Ratios of Natural Gas

Ranking

Russia

1.68 quadrillion cubic feet, or 47.6 trillion cubic meters

First

Iran

940 trillion cubic feet (26.6 trillion cubic meters)

Second

———————————————– Source: Oil and Gas Journal (2005)
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Iran takes approximately 170 cubic meters of gas to equal the energy content of one barrel of oil; Iran’s gas reserves represent the equivalent of about 155 billion barrels of oil. This, in turn, means that its combined hydrocarbon reserves are the equivalent of some 280 billion barrels of oil, just slightly behind Saudi Arabia’s combined supply. At present, Iran is producing only a small share of its gas reserves, about 76.5 billion cubic meters per year. This means that Iran is one of the few countries capable of supplying much larger amounts of natural gas in the future.

It is estimated/predicted that Iran will play a critical role in the world’s future energy politics. This is especially true because the global demand for natural gas is growing faster than that for any other source of energy, including oil. The world currently consumes more oil than gas. The production of natural gas, on the other hand, is not likely to peak until several decades from now, and so is expected to take up much of the loose when oil supplies become less abundant. Natural gas is also considered a more attractive fuel than oil in many applications, especially because when consumed it releases less carbon dioxide a major contributor to the greenhouse effect.

US wants to attack on Iran to grab its natural reservoirs of oil and gas. The United States of America is the world’s largest consumer of energy and needs more and more energy to come out of increasing trade deficit. With less then 5% of the world’s population the US consumes roughly 25% of the world’s oil. But the US’s insatiable demand has made them highly dependent upon a safe sure supply. Dependency upon an ensured supply has resulted in the maneuvering and conflicts, especially by the United States, that have dominated the world particularly over the past 30 years since the first oil shock in the early 1970’s. The US consumes roughly 20 million barrels of oil a day. Of that, roughly 53% is imported and about 24% of that or roughly 13% of the total comes from the Persian Gulf states including Iraq. In 1950 the United States supplied roughly 52% of the world’s oil production. Today it is has fallen to around 8%. The Persian Gulf States supply about 30% of the world’s production most of which comes from Saudi Arabia. The Persian Gulf States also have about 67% of the world’s reserves. The US, by comparison, only has about 3% of the world’s proven reserves. This makes the Persian Gulf the most important area in the world when it comes to supplying the fuel that the US economy and indeed the rest of the world needs.

No doubt the major US energy exploring companies would love to be working with Iran today in developing these vast oil and gas supplies. At present, however, they are prohibited from doing so by Executive Order [EO] 12959, signed by the former president Bill Clinton in 1995 and renewed by President Bush in March 2004. The United States of America has also threatened to punish foreign firms that do business in Iran under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996. China, which will need vast amounts of additional oil and gas to fuel its red-hot economy, is paying particular attention to Iran. According to the US Department of Energy [DoE], Iran supplied 14% of China’s oil imports in 2003, and is expected to provide an even larger share in the future. China is also expected to rely on Iran for a large share of its liquefied natural gas [LNG] imports. Last year, Iran signed a US$100 billion, 25-year contract with Sinopec, a major Chinese energy firm, for joint development of one of its major gas fields and the subsequent delivery of LNG to China. If this deal is fully consummated, it will constitute one of China’s biggest overseas investments and represent a major strategic linkage between the two countries.

India is also keen to obtain oil and gas from Iran. In January, the Gas Authority of India Ltd [GAIL] signed a 30-year deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Corp for the transfer of as much as 7.5 million tons of LNG to India per year. The deal, worth an estimated $50 billion, will also entail Indian involvement in the development of Iranian gas fields. Even more noteworthy, Indian and Pakistani officials are discussing the construction of a $3 billion natural-gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan an extraordinary step for two long-term adversaries. If completed, the pipeline would provide both countries with a substantial supply of gas and allow Pakistan to reap $200 million to $500 million per year in transit fees. "The gas pipeline is a win-win proposition for Iran, India and Pakistan," Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz declared in January 2005. But The Bush administration has, in fact, proved unwilling to back any project that offers an economic benefit to Iran. This has not, however, deterred India from proceeding with the pipeline. In this context the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conveyed the worries of United States of America on the issue “Gas Pipeline” among Pakistan, India and Iran in her first visit to India and Pakistan.

Japan has also broken ranks with Washington on the issue of energy ties with Iran. In early 2003, a consortium of three Japanese companies acquired a 20% stake in the development of the Soroush-Nowruz offshore field in the Persian Gulf, a reservoir thought to hold 1 billion barrels of oil. One year later, the Iranian Offshore Oil Co awarded a $1.26 billion contract to Japan’s JGC Corp for the recovery of natural gas and natural-gas liquids from Soroush-Nowruz and other offshore fields.

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USA

Iran

Key Strategic Aims

Key Strategic Aims

  • A desire to open up Iranian oil and gas fields to exploitation by US firms
  • Win international community support to attack on Iran on the alleged issue of nuclear program
  • Concrete efforts to regime change
  • To stop Iran’s growing ties to America’s competitors in the global energy market
  • Desire to open up oil and gas fields to exploration with European, Chinese and Japanese firms
  • Try to win or buy alternative equal support in international affairs
  • Expand its bilateral ties with European Countries. Increase economic ties with China, India and Japan

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Under US law, the first of these aims can only be achieved after the president lifts EO 12959, and this is not likely to occur as long as Iran is controlled by anti-American religious clerics and refuses to abandon its uranium-enrichment activities with potential bomb-making applications. Likewise, the ban on US involvement in Iranian energy production and export gives Iran no choice but to pursue ties with other consuming nations. From the Bush administration’s point of view, there is only one obvious and immediate way to alter this unappetizing landscape by inducing "regime change" in Iran and replacing the existing leadership with one far friendlier to US strategic interests.

The Bush administration seeks to foster regime change in Iran is not in any doubt. Iran has been included in “AXIS OF EVIL” with Iraq and North Korea in 2002. The President of USA showed his feelings of hatred and enmity against Iran again in June 2003, at a time when there were anti-government protests by students in Tehran. The Iranian leadership is well aware that it faces a serious threat from the Bush administration and is no doubt taking whatever steps it can to prevent such an attack. Here, too, oil is a major factor in both Tehran’s and Washington’s calculations. To discourage a possible US attack, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and otherwise barricade oil shipping in the Persian Gulf area. An attack on Iran will be tantamount to endangering Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and, in a word, the entire Middle East oil. There have also been reports of talks between US and Israeli officials about a possible Israeli strike on Iranian weapons facilities, presumably with behind-the-scenes assistance from the United States.

In reality, much of Washington’s concern about Iran’s pursuit of WMD and ballistic missiles is flickered by fears for the safety of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, other Persian Gulf oil producers, and Israel rather than by fears of a direct Iranian assault on the United States. It is estimated that Iran has the only army force in the region that can threaten its neighbors and Gulf security. The current planning for an attack on Iran is fundamentally driven by concern over the safety of US energy supplies, as was the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. So, even while publicly focusing on Iran’s weapons of mass destruction, key Bush administration figures are certainly thinking in geopolitical terms about Iran’s role in the global energy equation and its capacity to obstruct the global flow of petroleum.

Conclusion

It is predicted that tough time is ahead for Iran in the near future. The importance of oil, the black oil will determine the fate and national sovereignty of Iran. United States of America is crazy about in fulfilling its energy requirements and she can go beyond any limits. The constant increase in international prices of oil and gas and enlarging ratios of trade deficit of US has forced it to go for attack on Iran in the near future. Setting up big drilling stations and building huge pipelines through deep Mexican waters, turbulent Caspian Sea basin, frozen Siberia, unstable Central Asia, inhospitable Chad and civil war of Angola are very time and energy consuming projects therefore it is easy to possess the unlimited oil& gas reservoirs of Iran with the blatant use of power.

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