Showing posts with label hegemony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hegemony. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2013

Saudi oil minister & the Oilholic’s natter

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi said the global oil market remains well supplied, in response to a question from the Oilholic. Speaking here in Vienna, ahead of the closed session of oil ministers at the 163rd OPEC meeting, the kingpin said, “The supply-demand situation is balanced and the world oil market remains well supplied.”

Asked by a fellow scribe how he interpreted the current scenario. “Satisfactory” was the short response. Al-Naimi also said, “Enough has been said on shale. North American shale production adds to supply adequacy. Is it a bad thing? No. Does it enter into the geopolitical equation and hegemony? Yes of course. Geopolitics has evolved for decades along with the oil industry and will continue to. What’s new here?!” And that, dear readers, was that.

Despite being pressed for an answer several times, Al-Naimi declined to discuss the subject of choosing a successor to OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri.
 
The Saudis are expected to battle it out with the Iranians for the largely symbolic role, but one that is nonetheless central to shaping OPEC policies and carries a lot of prestige. As in December, the Saudis are proposing Majid Munif, an economist and former representative to OPEC. Tehran wants its man Gholam-Hussein Nozari, a former Iranian oil minister, installed. Compromise candidate could be Iraq’s Thamir Ghadban.
 
The tussle between Iran and Saudi Arabia about the appointment has been simmering for a while and led to a stalemate in December. As a consequence, El-Badri’s term was extended. Anecdotal evidence suggests the Iranians, as usual, are being difficult.
More so, Al-Naimi appeared to the Oilholic to be fairly relaxed about the Shale ruckus, but the Iranians are worried about perceived oversupply. (Only the Nigerians appear to be jumpier than them on the subject of shale). Iran's oil exports, it must be noted, are at their lowest since 2010 in wake sanction over its nuclear programme.

Away from the tussle, Abdel Bari Ali Al-Arousi, oil minister of Libya and alternate President of the OPEC Conference, said the world oil demand growth forecast for 2013 is expected to increase by 0.8 million barrels per day (bpd).

Total non-OPEC supply has seen a slight upward adjustment to 1.0 million bpd for the year. “This situation is likely to continue through the third and into the fourth quarters as we head into the driving season. Our focus will remain on doing all we can to provide stability in the market. This stability will benefit all stakeholders and contribute to growth in the world economy. However, as we have repeatedly said, this is not a job for OPEC alone. Every stakeholder has a part to play in achieving this,” he added.

Rounding off this post, on the subject of hegemony, it always makes the Oilholic smirk and has done so for years, that the moment the scribes are let in - the first minister they rush for (yours truly included) is the man from Saudi Arabia. That says something about hegemony within OPEC. That's all for the moment from Vienna folks, updates throughout the day and the weekend! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

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© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi speaking at the 163rd OPEC meeting of ministers © Gaurav Sharma, May 31, 2013.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A historical perspective on oil and world power

Throughout his illustrious career, academic Peter Randon Odell enriched the available oil and gas market commentary and analysis of his time, writing close to 20 books and numerous research papers. In 1970, Odell wrote arguably one of his most authoritative works on the subject – Oil and World Power. He went on to update and revise it no less than eight times with the last imprint reaching bookshelves in 1986.

After over two decades, the old master’s insight is available once again via a Routledge reprint, under its Routledge Revivals Initiative which aims to re-print academic works that have long been unavailable. While the publisher’s hunt for scholarly reprints is rewinding the clock back to the last 120 years, the Oilholic is not the least bit surprised that Odell’s most popular work is among the first to roll off Routledge’s printing presses for 2013 under the Revivals Initiative.

It was Odell who was among the first to catalogue the oil industry’s commercial clout and pragmatically noted in this book that the oil and gas business was one which no country could do without given the inextricable link between industrialisation and fossil fuels.

Above anything else, this reprinted book offers Odell’s insight on the oil and gas business as it had evolved up and until the 1980s, pre-dating the corporate birth of ExxonMobil, the collapse of the Soviet Union, America’s shale bonanza and resource nationalism to the extent we see today. This in itself makes the reprint of Oil and World Power invaluable.

The reader gets a glimpse of energy hegemony as it was up and until the 1980s and Odell’s insight on issues of the day. From OPEC soundbites to the anxieties of consuming nations, from the decline of International Oil Companies (IOCs) to the rise of National Oil Companies (NOCs) – it’s all there, coupled with changing patterns of oil supply and the dramatic fall in oil prices in 1986.

Yet, Odell’s conclusions in this book, of just over 300 pages split by 11 chapters, sound eerily similar; a sort of a forerunner to what industry commentators are mulling over in this day and age. In fact, the deep links, which he refers to in this book, between oil and gas extraction, conflict, resource nationalism, global politics and economic prowess are as entrenched as ever.

After discussing the bigger picture, the author goes on to offer a fair bit of forward-thinking conjecture on the relationship between the oil and gas business and economic development. There are also subtle hints at the resource curse hypothesis – a discussion which was hardly mainstream in the 1980s but is hotly debated these days.

This reprint bears testimony to the brilliance of Odell in tacking such issues head on. It would be of immense value to students of energy economics, industrial studies, international development, geopolitics and political hegemony. But above all, those looking to probe the history of the oil and gas business must certainly reach out for this engaging volume. 

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© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo: Front Cover – Oil and World Power © Routledge

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For comments or for professional queries, please email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

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