Since the 1950s, the US has had to import a growing percentage of its oil demand, reaching a crisis in the 1970s, with petrol prices at the pumps doubling overnight and long queues at the filling stations.
Dependent as it is on Middle East oil, US has sought to diversify supply. The Caspian is of growing importance, but in the absence of a pipeline through Turkey, which may yet not be built, the US has to look to other areas of the world, in particular Latin America.
One such area is Venezuela. It thus came as a shock to the US when one of their principle hemispherical sources of supply saw Hugo Chvez elected to Presidential office. One of the first things Hugo Chvez did was to summon leaders of OPEC to Caracas and attempt to stabilize oil prices at a higher level. Venezuela could have gone for market share, instead under Chvez, output was reduced to force a higher price.
For the US, worse was to come. Instead of following the Washington prescribed neo-liberal agenda, Chvez used the increased oil revenue to fund social welfare and education programmes. And to make matters worse, established links with Castro's Cuba.
Little wonder then that the CIA attempted to destabilize the country which eventually resulted in the failed coup attempt of April 2002. [BVEJ newsletter June 2002]
In Colombia, US special forces are required to protect oil pipelines. In Ecuador, recent actions by the government appear to confirm fears that new oil concessions will be made in the near future, affecting millions of acres of pristine Amazonian rainforest and their indigenous inhabitants.
In Iraq, few people are persuaded the war was about anything other than oil. But it was not about access to oil, it was about control of oil. The US was too dependent on the corrupt House of Saud, control of Iraqi oil, effectively gives control of Middle East oil. The US was seizing what they rightly see as theirs. In the immediate aftermath of WWII, the British ambassador was summoned and Middle East oil carved up Iraq and Kuwait between US and UK, Iran the UK and Saudi Arabia the US.
If the US has military might, then that might is to be used to secure resources for the US. The underlying philosophy of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is that military might is the first tool of diplomacy not the last. Alumni of PNAC, crypto-fascists and right-wing nutters, dominate the Bush administration. [BVEJ newsletter April 2003]
The US is going to be drawn into ever more conflicts, terrorism will increase. The obvious solution is to reduce demand, but instead the US chooses to use its military might to take what it finds anywhere in the world and call its own.
Diversity of supply is needed, but diversity of energy supply, not diversity of oil supply. A soft energy path, not a hard energy path. The recent cascading power failures along the entire east of North America is a graphic illustration of the vulnerability and brittleness of hard energy supply paths.
Blackout areas told to save power, BBC news on-line, 16 August 2003
Ecuadorian Goverment adopts 'new' oil policy to expand drilling in the Amazon, Indymedia UK, 5 August 2003
Amory B Lovins & L Hunter Lovins, Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security, Brick House, 1982
Keith Parkins, Pipeline politics, Indymedia UK, 11 August 2003
Keith Parkins, Soft Energy Paths, www.heureka.clara.net, May 2001
Project Profile: The OCP Pipeline, Amazon Watch, January 2003
What caused the blackouts?, BBC news on-line, 15 August 2003