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Ferdinand E. Banks

Ferdinand E. Banks

Ferdinand E. Banks, Uppsala University (Sweden), performed his undergraduate studies at Illinois Institute of Technology (electrical engineering) and Roosevelt University (Chicago), graduating with honors in…

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Energy Wars and a Rumor of Wars

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil ? Alan Greenspan (2008)

Alan Greenspan is not my favourite macroeconomist or central bank chief, although his presence on a bandstand with the great jazz saxophonist Stan Getz deserves almost as much respect as the above citation. Of course, when he says “everyone” he means persons in his social circle. Persons with the right ‘connections’, who wine and dine with similar ladies and gentlemen, and most important who were not confused by the sanctimonious pronouncements of the gentleman in the White House when the above statement was published.

Yesterday Michael T. Klare, professor of peace and security studies at Hampshire College, published an article in the European Energy Review with the title ‘The New Thirty Years War’ (2011), which is supposed to say something important about “The Great Global Energy Struggle to Come.”

What he says is meaningless, because the conflicts he is talking about have to do with corporations, and not states: corporations come and go, and their troubles are seldom referred to as wars, even in those special cases when this designation might be appropriate.

Put another way, in my forthcoming energy economics textbook (2011), given the opportunity, I would have said that Professor Klare’s work has no place in economic research because he deals with fantasy rather than fact.

For instance, we have had an energy war in Libya – a war for oil brilliantly examined in articles and comments in the forum OilPrice.Com. Moreover, for teachers of energy economics like myself, the basic issue in Libya was not oil but lies and misunderstandings, which unfortunately is par for the course where half-baked energy journalism and some economic research is concerned. In Dr Greenspan’s excellent book, a figure for global oil output in 2030 of 116 million barrels per day (= 116 mb/d) was given – courtesy of the International Energy Agency (IEA) – while a large portion of one of my lectures in my course on oil and gas economics at the Asian Institute of Technology (Bangkok) was devoted to ridiculing another  IEA estimate for the same year of 121 mb/d. 

The opinion here is that those figures will never be seen for oil, although they are not impossible for ‘liquids’ (i.e. oil plus biofuels plus natural gas liquids, etc). However if the maximum (oil/liquids) global production is in the vicinity of the one often bandied about in France, then a prophesy by an important contributor to the site EnergyPulse – Len Gould – deserves some attention: voters in many countries prefer war to being deprived of  the energy – particularly in oil products – that they are used to.

Like Professor Klare, I refer to the disaster at Fukushima in my book, but unlike the off-the-wall analyses of that scholar, I happen to know what the Japanese nuclear future will involve. The nuclear renaissance may or may not take place in most of the industrial countries in the world, but it is certain in those countries (like Russia and China) who are playing to win. Japan belongs in this category.

Finally, since the European Economic Review has its editorial offices in Holland – a country whose government recently renounced its holier-than-thou nuclear philosophy – I have no choice but to ask what were the editors of that publication were thinking  when they published an article that, from a scientific point of view,  is s hopelessly naïve.

By Professor Ferdinand E. Banks



Banks, Ferdinand E. (2011). Energy and Economic Theory. London, New York and
      Singapore: World Scientific.
______. (2011). ‘Will France also play the nuclear fool’. Seminar Paper.
Greenspan, Alan (2008). ‘The Age of Turbulence’. London: Penguin Books.
Klare, Michael T. (2011). ‘The new thirty years’ war. European Energy Review
              (5 September)

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  • Anonymous on September 07 2011 said:
    It is difficult to define "the Iraq war," since it seems to have been going on for a long time, and is not likely to end within the lifetimes of any readers here.The ongoing Shia vs. Sunni civil war in Iraq had its foundation centuries ago, and has flared time and again over those centuries. The Mongol, Ottoman, and British empires all participated in the long-running "Iraq War." The more recent, intermittent contributions by outsiders relate to Iraq's vast energy resources, which adds more fuel to Iraq's perpetual political and religious fire.It is wrong to settle on a particular brushfire or two and call it "the Iraq War," however. The term itself is redundant. The very word for Iraq is W-A-R, and has always been.
  • Anonymous on September 07 2011 said:
    Thanks for rejoining this forum Alfonso, because occasionally you and I are on the same wave length.But I see no reason for doubt here. The Iraq war I am referring to is the one started by George W. Bush on the basis of a lie. A War that has cost billions of dollars, and which our new incompetent president should have turned his back on immediately.Dr Greenspan says that the war was for oil, and though I dont like that man's politics, THERE IS NOBODY IN WASHINGTON BETTER QUALIFIED TO KNOW. He has the connections AND the intelligence.
  • Anonymous on September 08 2011 said:
    Alfonso, you are slightly mistaken. The word for Iraq is Iran. Iraq has become a satellite of Iran since 2003, if not before. Iran will now 'own' Iraq for the foreseeable future, whatever the US does. Iran plus Iraq, if they get their energy act together, could by some accounts rival Saudi and Russia as as one of the world's major oil producing entities. This would make Iran definitely the preeminent regional power in the Middle East. This development is already on the cards. This would make Iraq a less unstable country. Overtime, generations in fact, Iran would gradually squeeze out the opposition and make Iraq in the image of Iran as far as this was practical. The same will go for Syria eventually, then Lebanon. Iran's influence, notwithstanding the propaganda against it, could be quite positive and benign in bringing a 'Pax Persica' to the region.

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