• 20 mins Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 2 hours Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 3 hours Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 4 hours Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 5 hours Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 7 hours Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 8 hours New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 10 hours Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 11 hours Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 17 hours Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 22 hours British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 1 day Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 1 day Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 1 day Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 1 day OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 1 day London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 1 day Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 1 day Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 2 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 2 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 2 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 2 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 2 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 2 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 3 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 3 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 3 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 3 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 3 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 3 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 3 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 3 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 3 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 4 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 4 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 4 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 4 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 4 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 4 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 7 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
Alt Text

Chinese EV Boom Could Crash Oil Prices

Most oil majors acknowledge that…

Alt Text

Richard Branson To Invest In Elon Musk’s Hyperloop One

Britain’s Virgin Group boss has…

Alt Text

Can India Overtake China In The EV Revolution?

India wants to drastically increase…

Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan runs the popular geopolitics blog Informed Comment where he provides an independent and informed perspective on Middle Eastern and American politics.

More Info

Could Electric Cars Make the Middle East Geopolitically Irrelevant?

Could Electric Cars Make the Middle East Geopolitically Irrelevant?

Petroleum makes the world go round, with 70% of it used to power automobiles. About a fifth of the world’s 90 million barrels a day of oil production comes out of the Persian Gulf/ Arabian Gulf.

A large part of the US stand-off with Iran has to do with petroleum. The US doesn’t want a big military power hulking over the Gulf, other than itself. Iran can’t be allowed to dominate the Gulf oil kingdoms. Likewise, Washington insists that oil countries remain susceptible of being invaded by the US. Non-oil states like Pakistan, India and Israel have been allowed to actually develop nuclear bombs, but Iraq was destroyed even on false suspicion of moving in the same direction. Even an Iranian capability to construct a bomb, i.e. “nuclear latency,” would have a deterrent effect, and the US is determined to prevent Iran from being taken out of the column of countries that can be safely invaded. (There is no good evidence that Iran seeks to actually construct a warhead, nor is Iran a threat to much more powerful Israel; US tensions with Iran are largely over ‘nuclear latency,’ the mere capability to construct a nuclear warhead on short notice).

Iran has launched its biggest ever air defense drills, a week after the US accused it of trying to shoot down an American drone over the Gulf:

Related Article: EIA Predicts Cheap Gasoline in Time for Holidays

A quick US transition to hybrid and then electric cars, and fueling them with electricity produced by renewables, is necessary to combat increasingly dangerous global climate change. But it might also make the Persian Gulf/ Arabian Gulf geopolitically irrelevant. A green America would be energy self-sufficient, and its many wind turbines and solar panels would be impossible for an enemy to target. The US would be both much more secure and also much less aggressive if it were green. There would be no reason for a green America to care very much about security in the Gulf. The behind-the-scenes push by Big Oil for war to open new fields would be deflated. The US would be freed to move the Fifth Fleet HQ away from dictatorial little Bahrain. It could let Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen go.

In this connection, it is very good news that the Tesla S electric car, created by Silicon Valley, has won the Motor Trend ‘Car of the Year’ award. Some models of the Tesla S are less than $50,000, and the car has the longest range of any electric car. Its price should fall over time, and its range will grow. In states where renewables produce a substantial proportion of the electricity, as in Idaho, Washington State, [pdf] Maine, etc., running an electric car or a plug-in hybrid much reduces a consumer’s carbon footprint. But it may also reduce the likelihood that a couple’s son will be sent off to fight in some godforsaken desert to protect US control of the world’s energy.

Motor Trend reports on the Tesla S:

Related Article: IMF: Do we Have a Peak Oil Problem?

Petroleum has been at the center of many modern wars. In WW II, FDR told Japan he would cut if off from American petroleum, on which Japan depended to keep its Chinese empire going. Japan fought its way to Indonesian oil to replace the lost American supply, first trying to defang the US Navy at Pearl Harbor. Hitler suffered from lack of access to petroleum, and was driven to open the second front by a quest for the petroleum in the East Bloc. The Axis drive on Egypt from Libya may well have aimed at ultimately pushing on Iraq and Iran for their oil. Iraq’s invasions of Iran and Kuwait were in part an attempt by Saddam Hussein to consolidate control over neighboring oil fields. Israel pumped petroleum from Egypt’s Sinai while occupying it. George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was connected to the latter’s petroleum. Greg Muttit has used leaked BP documents to show that the company lobbied the UK PM Tony Blair to make sure it got its share of petroleum fields in post-Saddam Iraq.

By. Professor Juan Cole




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Mark Goldes on November 14 2012 said:
    Electric cars are likely to remain a small fraction of the auto market when they need to be recharged from the power grid or solar panels.

    However, new technologies are likely to recharge vehicles from ambient energy or Nickel Hydrogen systems.

    Ambient energy includes Zero Point Energy which may prove practical as it was successfully tapped in Germany before and during World War II by Hans Coler and Willi von Unruh. They demonstrated a 6,000 watt generator in 1937 that became a Top Secret project for the Nazi navy.

    Nickel Hydrogen systems are increasingly under study by small firms as well as NASA and the U.S. Navy. They may only need a small cartridge to recharge at 6 month intervals.

    Such cars would be mobile power plants, capable of selling power to the local utility when suitably parked.

    Should these technologies or others with similar effects prove practical electric cars may begin to dominate the automotive market.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News