How Secure are Middle East Oil Supplies?

During the 1980s and 1990s, energy security declined in importance as oil prices fell
and spare capacity stood at high levels. This was reversed in the decade that followed
and once more energy security became a priority in policy agendas of most oilimporting
countries. High oil prices, threats of terrorist attacks, instability in many
oil-exporting countries and the rise in so-called ‘oil nationalism’ have raised serious
concerns about the security of oil supplies. In the background, there are fears that the
world may be running out of oil with many observers predicting an imminent oil
supply crunch (Campbell and Laherrère, 1998) and raising doubts about the size of
proven oil reserves in the Middle East and elsewhere (Simmons, 2005). These doomladen
predictions about the availability of oil supplies and the size of reserves are
gaining popular credence at times when oil market conditions are tight. Many
international agencies, such as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and
International Energy Agency (IEA), are also predicting a healthy growth in global oil
demand in the next 20–25 years, driven primarily by high growth rates of non-OECD
Asian economies.

By: Bassam Fattouh

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