Oil wars


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We wish to point out the file of History: The oil wars (sept.2003).
A historian perspective on the crises in our world since 150 years.

It is 1859, in Titusville, Pennsylvania, that springs the first well to indusrielle vocation for lighting. Success was immediate and speculation, the race to the production and transportation are already at work. In 1870, Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company and built an empire thanks to its radical methods.

At the turn of the century, the United States account for two thirds of production, ahead of Russia, Mexico, Europe Roumanie.En resources are relatively scarce and prospecting is towards new countries, the Middle East, Iran, Turkey. Electricity gradually replace kerosene lamps but the combustion engine and the diesel engine will give new opportunities to oil exploitation. The tanks, planes and submarines from the war-1914 18 prove the superiority of these engines on other traction means. Consumption will still increase with the acceleration of industrialization after the war. Finally, with the beginnings of petrochemicals and diversification of applications, oil becomes unavoidable.



At the beginning of the second war, already the subject of all issues. When they entered the war, Germany and Japan are disadvantaged in terms of access to oil resources and that is what determines the strategy of Blitzkrieg, this "war-lights" designed to quickly get the win on producing countries. It is the success in France, Poland and the Balkans but the defeat of Stalingrad will cut the road the Germans to the oilfields of the Caucasus.

The years 50 see intensify the struggles for influence in the new producer countries. Example: 1951, Dr. Mossadegh did nationalize the exploitation of oil resources in Iran so far under British influence. Two years later, a "popular revolt" mounted by the CIA deposed and imprisoned while the new government says the mining and refining of its resources to a consortium in which the Americans appear to 40%. The Suez crisis in 1956 mark the end of European influence and dominance throughout the United States.

In the West, for all 50 and 60 years, maintains the low prices allowed the growth and significant tax levy. But the industrialized world is thus made totally dependent on this unique resource and the result will be less glorious ...

In September 1960 in Baghdad, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is created, comprising Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait. They will be joined later by Qatar, Libya, Abu Dhabi, Ecuador, Nigeria, Indonesia and Gabon. It was to unify the petroleum policies of member countries to ensure they stabilized prices and a steady income. In practice, this meant struggle against the companies. In the early 70 years, the minimum rate of royalties is set at 55%. Crude prices are increased and revised according to international inflation. This price offensive is accompanied by actions aimed at increased control of their country on production: in February 71, President Boumediene decided unilaterally that Algeria is the majority shareholder in French companies are operating in its territory and transforms pipelines and natural gas deposits in State property. Similar measures were taken in Iraq and Libya while elsewhere contracts are renegotiated.


During a barrel of crude oil brought into Dollars 2000. Click to enlarge

In October 73, the Yom Kippur War raged. Six Persian Gulf countries decide 70% increase in crude oil prices. Then they (without Iran but with other Arab oil exporters) decide to drop a 5% of production every month "as the international community has not forced Israel to evacuate the territories occupied in 1967 ". Finally, they proclaim an embargo against the United States, protectors of the Jewish state, and then expand the extent the Netherlands, Portugal, Rhodesia and South Africa. In two months, the price of the quadruple barrel (from $ 3 11,65 in $).
Thus the war 73 can permanently reverse the balance of power between exporting countries and large companies. But above all, this economic crisis reveals the latent economic crisis and the urgency of the energy debate.
Yet the United States, the main target of the embargo, are only slightly affected. Indeed, the exporting countries can not always control the destination of tankers leaving their shores and then 1973, 5 only to 6% of the oil was imported from the Gulf. For cons, the US enjoy what Europe and Japan, not having their own fields, are hard hit because of declining competitiveness.
After the second crisis 1979-80, OPEC will gradually lose its influence. Alternative energy (the "all-nuclear" in France), the exploitation of new deposits (the North Sea, Africa ...) and individualism producing countries will weaken.

From 1975, the USSR seeks to increase its influence in the countries concerned by the large arteries of oil transport (East Africa, South Yemen, Afghanistan), probably in anticipation of future conflicts. But with the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the end of the Cold War in the late 80 years, ended this strategy. This failure and the fall in production in Russia is probably the cause of the fury that makes this country to maintain its sovereignty in Chechnya.

Since 1990-91, the United States are to have hegemony. "Should we be surprised that, in these circumstances, the hyperpower be tempted to impose to the world his vision of an international order which coincides -in the name of morality and law- with its own interests? ". In 90-91, she managed to gather around it a coalition, with the UN's blessing. In 2003, she is past.

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