Global Politics of Oil

Editorial

During the times preceding the Cold War or after, it was hardly felt that natural resources would occupy the centre of policies of many states. As we are fighting climate change from the local to the international level, and creating measures to mitigate it, there is another factor that has been on the top of the agenda of many policies. ‘Development’, as we call it, is something that many parts of the world are yet to experience. There is a constant stress on various nations to provide basic amenities to its citizens and improve their standard of living. At this juncture, energy comes as a crucial factor to assist the development process. There are various resources that could be utilized in this process and oil is the foremost among them.

Today, most of the deals and agreements take place between different nations with ‘oil’ as the most sought after product. The developed West and even the developing countries are in need of this produce that has been dominating policies and processes of diplomacy. ‘Oil’ is now connecting nations that are placed in opposite directions geographically. The oil-rich regions are now the most sought after for their immense resources. Thus oil and geopolitics are closely intertwined and are greatly shaping the geopolitical game, policies of state and demands of non-state actors. As one of the authors in this issue points out, drugs, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, piracy and environmental degradation lie outside the province of any one state, but pose a formidable challenge to free flow of oil from the West Asian region.

While the West Asian region remains centre of this resource, the region- due to its own regional differences- has not been able to play a formidable role, while the regional powers that are outside of this region are coming to determine the policies and directions. The region is constantly affected by internal differences, rising terrorism, civil wars, illegal oil trade and lack of consistent investments on infrastructure. This is a major deterrent and a signal of distress for the local, regional and international peace. The region needs to address this alarming problem if it has to remain as the hub of the oil production in the world.

India needs to carefully reorient its policies to procure its energy requirements from the region. It can extend its assistance in the expertise such as Information Technology and Biotechnology and agricultural-products market. Most importantly, the region is looking for security and India may share its valuable inputs and expertise in this aspect. The Central Asian region too offers immense possibilities to explore the oil and energy resources and is in immediate neighbourhood. One of the concerns for India in future would be that India's oil demand increase will be the largest reaching upto 10 million barrels a day by the year 2040. The increased demand will be met largely by imports, which are projected to increase to 90 per cent. India needs to make right moves in its diplomacy to stay put and reap benefits.

Global Politics of Oil


Liquid Gold Politics in Central Asia: Challenges and Opportunities
Prof. Tridib Chakraborti and Ms. Bipasha Ghose Dastidar

The recent BRICS meeting saw the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa come together for building up strategies on issues with terrorism topping the list. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called putting an end to the supply of arms and explosives to the terrorist groups thereby creating an international legal regime to deal with this issue. Like India, all the other countries shall take serious measures to deal with the terroristic activities that would only lead to a proper distribution and protection of the world’s major resources. A number of efforts have been initiated towards the reconstruction of new states that has not only given the Central Asian republics a scope for rejuvenation but also provoked them to have suitable relations with the other adjacent countries. Both Central Asia and West Asia have been huge deposits of oil and energy, but the present scenario shows a lack of pragmatism in the Central Asian countries which has given a space for the emergence of non-traditional security threats.

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Oil Politics in Central Asia and West Asia: India’s Concern
Prof. Anil Kamboj

Energy resources are reshaping the geopolitical map in Eurasia. Eventual control of the development of oil deposits as well as the eventual pipeline routing will determine the political and economic future of Russia, Turkey and the Central Asian states; it will determine Iran’s position in the region and its relations with the West; it will determine the realignment of the strategic triangle among the US, Russia and China; and it will have strategic consequences by lessening dependence on Persian Gulf oil. The absence of a robust security bulwark and deep rooted intra-regional conflicts raises concerns about the viability of regional security in West Asia. Now importance arises that whether India should start getting involved in the regional security of West Asia by helping create a regional security bulwark which may deter the outside interference in the region or not. We must remember that, the region forms a part of India's extended neighbourhood.

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Economics and Politics of Energy Sector of Central Asia -- Changing Priorities
Prof. R. G. Gidadhubli

Central Asia is one of the energy resource rich regions in the world. For the post-Soviet sovereign and independent Central Asian States (CAS), energy sector has assumed special political and economic significance during the last two decades. The leadership of the CAS has to deal with the geo-political influence of the global powers apart from the fact that their energy sector, being integrated with the global energy market, has also to deal with the cost and benefit of fluctuating international demand and price for oil.

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Pipelines from Iran and Central Asia
Prof. N Chandra Mohan

For India’s energy security, the good news is the continuing weakness in global crude prices as it imports 80 per cent of its requirements. As the world’s fastest growing economy, it has burgeoning requirements for oil and gas from West, Central Asia and elsewhere, as domestic production has sharply declined.  Brent crude prices have averaged $53 a barrel in 2015 and will be at the same levels in 2016 as well. Although the NDA government has not fully passed on the benefit of cheaper crude to consumers at the pump it must ensure supplies of cheap oil and gas for the Indian economy.

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Saudi Arabia- A Chessboard of Black Gold
Prof. Rajesh Dogra

Oil and natural gas are parts of fossil fuels and scientists believe that they were formed by organisms-animals and plants-that died, decomposed, and converted into solid rock thousands, may be millions, of years ago as a result of eminent level of heating. That natural process took place under the earth and resulted in what is today called petroleum, a finite mixture of hydrocarbon molecules that is not easily expendable. Oil and natural gas have high net energy and outside the fact that one is a fluid and other is vaporous at surface condition, their only difference relates to the level of the heating the rocks persisted and their molecular weight.

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Energy and Oil Politics in Caspian Sea and Central Asia
Dr. Satish Kumar & Kahkashan Kamaal

The Caspian Sea region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is an increasingly important source of global energy production. The area has significant oil and natural gas reserves from both offshore deposits in the Caspian Sea itself and onshore fields in the Caspian basin. Traditionally an oil-producing area, the Caspian area's importance as a natural gas producer is growing quickly. Aside from Azerbaijan's oil production, the Caspian Sea largely was untapped until the collapse of the Soviet Union. With several newly independent countries gaining access to valuable hydrocarbon deposits, the different countries have taken diverging approaches to developing the energy resources of the area. 

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Politics of Oil in Central Asia: New Players and the “Great Game”
Dr. Alok Kumar Gupta

Oil has emerged as the most potent weapon within the global economy and has increasingly been instrumental in designing the world politics and international relations. Its potentials have also shaped in terms of magnitude and scale so much so that it is fast becoming a strong determinant of world order. Oil ceases to be mere economics and commerce and a source of energy; rather it has assumed a multi-dimensional role in the wider milieu of international politics and international relations. Oil is one of the strong determinants of the value of Dollar in international market, alongside the arms and narcotics trade. It is quite ironical that oil constitutes the biggest sector of economy, and is the most important factor for crime, at local, national and international level. It is indeed one of the factors that have worsened the relations among nations and contributed toward political instability within states.

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India’s Oil Diplomacy: Some Reflections of the 21st Century
Dr. Anil Kumar Mohapatra & Dr. Debasish Nandy

In the era of globalisation, among so many other things, closeness and cooperation between and among states in the economic field has been one of the significant developments. Of course, it might have put some adverse impact or effect on some weak economies vis-a-vis strong ones but a complete independent and isolationist policy in so far as the economic aspect of globalisation is concerned would be neither pragmatic nor desirable. Especially the developments following the disintegration of the former USSR in early 1990s paved the way for increasing economic cooperation across the globe. The imperatives of economic cooperation had even urged the People’s Republic of China to forgo its earlier adherence to the model of closed economy. In a similar fashion, India had to abandon its Non-Aligned hangover and state-led economy that led to a grave fiscal situation which threatened to ‘bankrupt the federal exchequer’ (Ganguly et al., 2011: 13) towards the end of 1980s.

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Mounting Oil Politics in West Asia and Implications for India
Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi

The prevailing global political or economic order is still characterised by an assertive dominance of powerful nations over weak or less powerful ones. The powerful nations always try to grab the maximum of economic benefits even if it is unjust or unethical and is also detrimental to the interests of the weaker counterparts despite their bitter resistance. If physical and military means were the only route for establishing this dominance in the early years, a mix of political, economic and trade diplomacy became the modern means for achieving the above objective with varying degrees of enforcement and resistance in different regions and situations. Today, in the largely multipolar world of politics and multilateral markets, there have often been clashes of interests and, thereby, the military has once again become an active agent of arbitration, where markets and diplomacy fails.

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India’s Interest in Central Asian Republics: Securing Energy Interests
Rinkumoni Gogoi

The Central Asia had been the centre stage of imperial rivalry between Britain and Russia during the nineteenth century. Though changed in its dimension, the centrality of Central Asia did not diminish even inthe era of New Great Game. The geopolitical realities of the region changed with disintegration of Soviet Unionas well as with the emergence of fiveCentral Asian states, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistanin the world politics. There are three factors which bring significance to the Central Asian states in theInternational Politics. Geographical location of the region is the first factor which has accrued significance to the region. It is a landlocked area with no access to the Oceans, and thus it needs welldeveloped land routes to access other countries. The second factor is its closeness to the important world powers such as Russia and China. And thirdly these States are rich inenergy resources such as natural gas and oil which gives it an important position in the issues of world politics. All these factors play a significant role indirecting the new phase of the Great Game towards Central Asia.

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China-Iran Nuclear and Strategic Cooperation: Implications to India’s Interest in Indian Ocean Region
Negamalleswara Rao

Elevation of China-Iran nuclear cooperation is a factor which pushed both countries’ willingness to improve strategic and military cooperation.  Iran’s nuclear programme can be traced to the Shah’s rule, in the initial years of the Islamic Republic. At this time Iran had made significant advances in nuclear technology. Eventually Iran focussed on nuclear technology and this caused Iran to seek help from China. In fact, Iraq was also trying to develop nuclear weapons at that time. Hence Iran had sought help from nuclear advanced countries along with India for building a research reactor, while this was utilised effectively by China and provided other assistance in nuclear research. The Iran-Iraq conflict was one of the reasons behind Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power and to be independent in enriching uranium. China helped Iran’s nuclear programme in return for benefits relating to access to Iran’s energy resources. China had, along with Russia, assisted Iran’s nuclear programme for peaceful use of nuclear energy and also provided it with material and training support. However dual use technology transferred from China to Iran may have been used for nuclear weapons technology.

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China’s Footprints in the Gulf: Quest for Oil Security
Ms. AmritaJash

With the turn of the twenty-first century, the most characteristic feature that dominates international politics and economics is the ‘rise of China’. With its booming economy, the biggest challenge faced by China is securing its increasing energy needs that are crucial to sustain the economic growth and stability. That is, energy security is directly related to economic security. In traditional understanding, economic security is concerned with ‘the degree to which national security is threatened by dependence on external sources of technology, raw materials, food and fuel’. And in this perspective, energy security is about the demand and supply of energy resources. In a broader understanding,  Belgrave ET. Al. define energy security as:

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Oil Geopolitics in West Asia: Emerging Fault Lines
Dr. Pranav Kumar

Oil and Geopolitics are entwined. No other natural resource is more pertinent in shaping global geopolitics as Oil has been, and no any other region has been more instrumental in shaping geopolitical great game for oil as the West Asia has been. Despite the fact that the region constantly remains to be politically volatile, the global oil supply remains to be highly dependent on West Asia, and if various projections are to be believed the region would continue to dominate the global oil production in the foreseeable future. West Asia holds central place in Spykman’s schema of Rimland and subsequent American policies. During the Cold War period West Asia remained to be one of the major chessboards for the great game being played between the USA and Soviet Union. Although post-Cold War nature of oil geopolitics has become more complicated, its significance for major state and non-state actors has magnified than dwindled. 

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India and Central Asia: Af-Pak Factor in India’s Energy Security
Muzammil Ahad Dar

Energy Security is an important concern of India in enhancing India’s relation with Central Asia. The importance that India now attaches to energy security is reflected in the former Prime minister of India Dr.Manmohan Singh’s remarks in an interview with financial times in 2009 stating, that the Energy security is second only in our scheme of things to food security. The study of rising demands of energy and disparity between production and consumption of energy are chief objectives of this paper. The paper further elaborated on the option of energy security for India in CARs.  The objectives have been studied by relying on the primary and secondary sources of data both offline and online sources. Governmental as well as Institutional records, surveys and documents were used for this study. The reports and projects of various agencies and scholars are also important sources of data for this study. 

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Role of Turkey in Energy Geopolitics: Leverage of being a Multi-regional Power
Pawan Kumar Bairwa and Bidyut Bora

Energy affects almost all aspects of life and enormously contribute in economic, social and political development, which is sustainable as well. Energy, in this way, by ensuring socio-economic development augments the well-being of people and at the same time gives political leverage uplifting the country's position in the international realm. The present world is changing at a very fast rate and there is growing demand for hydrocarbon energy for the speedy development of the nations. Consequently, it can be said that the forthcoming decades will probably bring about significant modifications in the global energy scenario. Therefore, there is requirement to change the strategic orientation related to new concepts of energy and their implications. 

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Oil Politics in West Asia: The Quagmire
Salma Zafar

Energy is sine qua non for development of a country irrespective of the situation that they are placed in the larger milieu of development. It is the most sought after entity across continents and will continue to play determinant role in international politics and international relation. Over the last few decades it has developed potentials to dictate the world order and has designed and redesigned the world order. It has fast become a turf and a battle ground not only for major powers of the world but also for oil possessing countries as well as for non-state actors. It is fundamental to socio-economic and technological development of the nation state. In the fast globalising and increasingly competitive world, it has come to occupy front-stage in world politics.Contemporary multi-polar worldwhich is characterised by competition for resources, energy security (both the access and flow of it) is among the most pressing issues in global politics.

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The Eurasian Pipeline Politics: Resurgent Turkey and the Syrian Crisis
Ramu C.M

The prolonged turmoil in Syria has several overtones, interpreted through varying dimensions that are mutually overlapping – but also disparate. What is often less discussed is the relevance of pipeline geopolitics, in conflagrating a conflict that sparked up as a mere civil war, just like any other anti-establishment protest across the rest of the Arab world. Notably, the argument over two major proposed pipeline projects is reflected in the continuing carnage engulfing Syria. These are the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline and the Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Syria gas pipeline respectively. The former is often called the Islamic Pipeline. 

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