Friday, November 14, 2014

A crash course in geopolitics

Supply side oil and gas analysts including this blogger, as well as traders of (physical not paper) crude oil contracts feel like tearing their hair when some speculator or the other hits the airwaves citing “risk premium”, “instability premium” or more correctly “geopolitical premium” as the pretext for going long on oil no matter how much of the crude stuff is in the pipeline.

As we are currently witnessing one of those rare moments in the oil market's history when surplus supplies and stunted demand are pretty much neutering the speculators’ geopolitical pretext, you might wonder what the fuss is all about.

Make no mistake; while the selective deployment of geopolitical sentiments in betting on the oil price has always been open to debate, the connection between the oil industry and geopolitics is undeniable. And should you need a crash course, academic Klaus Dodds has the answer.

In his contribution about geopolitics for Oxford University PressA Very Short Introduction series, Dodds breezes you through the subject via a concise book of just under 160 pages, split into six chapters.

When covering a subject this vast for a succinct book concept with case studies aplenty, the challenge is often about what to skip, as much as it is about what to include. The author has been brilliant in doing so via a crisp and engaging narrative.

Having enjoyed this book, which is currently in its second edition, the Oilholic would be happy to recommend it to the readers of this blog. As Dodds himself notes: “It’s essential to be geopolitical” and amen to that!

However, be mindful that it is meant to help you understand geopolitics and contextualise geopolitical influences. It is neither a weighty treatise on the subject nor was intended as such. The title itself makes that clear.

Anyone from an analyst to a GCSE student can pick it up and appreciate it as much as those in a hurry to get to grips with the subject or are of a curious disposition. Should you happen to be in this broad readership profile, one suggests you go for it, and better still keep it handy, given the times we live in!

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© Gaurav Sharma, October, 2014. Photo: Front Cover – Geopolitics: A Very Short Introduction © Oxford University Press, June 2014.

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