“If we lose the oil fields, we lose the war.” -Adolph Hitler
It has become fashionable to excoriate our country for consuming almost 25% of the earth’s oil and yet comprising only 3% of the planet’s population. However, it is seldom mentioned that the United States and Western oil companies are responsible for the discovery of the majority of the world’s oil reserves. When the equation is turned around it could be argued that America has been quite generous with the energy resources that it has discovered, produced and shared with the rest of the world. Imagine what the price of oil might be and how precarious it’s distribution had China or Russia been responsible for the tremendous risks and investments necessary to capture the majority of the earth’s hydrocarbons. Economic output is almost perfectly correlative to energy consumption which explains why the United States generates over 25% of the worldwide GDP while comprising only 3% of the population. Once again, when the “population versus consumption” equation is viewed from a “population versus productivity” perspective a very different picture emerges.
Although wealthy Europeans and Americans may apologize for their energy consumption, developing nations envy the availability of affordable oil and gas that we enjoy. Furthermore, they wish to participate in the personal comforts and economic productivity that ample supplies of oil and gas make possible. Because of a vibrant domestic oil sector we no longer require a whaling industry to provide northeasterners with heating oil in the winter. Likewise, it is no longer necessary to clear cut entire forests to burn in our wooden stoves. Petroleum provides the energy for mechanized tools that relieve the laborer of back-breaking toil. Capturing and harnessing energy is the key distinction between advanced industrialized economies and struggling third world countries. As pointed out in Dr. Michael Economides’ excellent book, The Color of Oil, the primary difference between our colonial ancestors and modern Americans is the utilization of energy for transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and air-conditioning. These advancements are attributable to fossil fuels.
It should be obvious to all that a sufficient energy supply is the prerequisite for every industry and every economy in the world. For the past 100 years hydrocarbons have provided the vast majority of the world’s energy demands. Whenever it becomes scarce or unavailable governments are compelled to take radical measures. Japan may have never attacked Pearl Harbor had President Roosevelt not imposed a naval blockade preventing oil tankers from reaching Japanese ports after the Rape of Nanking. Japan became so desperate for gasoline by the end of the war that they resorted to converting sake into fuel and clear cutting entire forests of pine trees that contained a syrupy substance that was distilled and used as crude oil. Germany’s finest military strategist, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, was forced to deploy in North Africa to capture oil reserves instead of aiming his panzers toward London or Moscow. The purpose of the Romanian occupation was primarily to secure the Ploiste Oil Fields near Bucharest when German divisions were badly needed in other parts of the European theater. Adolph Hitler properly identified Ploiste’s grave importance when he stated, “If we lose the oil fields, we lose the war.” In 1943 and 1944 Allied B-24s bombed Ploisti. Conversely, a reliable supply of oil from fields in Texas, Oklahoma and California enabled our forces to engage in the Pacific and European theaters simultaneously and was a major contributor to U.S. victory in World War II.
Today, our large oil companies compete in the international arena with much larger national oil companies like Russia’s Lukoil and Gazprom and China’s SINOPEC. Whether we recognize it or not, we are engaged in a global race for reserves with far-reaching implications. Russia has recently made an aggressive claim upon the exploration rights covering much of the Arctic Circle. China is challenging Exxon’s right to explore in Vietnamese waters in the China Sea while the National Chinese Oil Company is drilling only a few miles off the coast of Florida. America’s energy plan is focused upon taxing it’s domestic oil companies and misspending the bounty on inferior and unreliable alternatives, some of which actually consume more energy than they produce. In the mean while, clear thinking Chinese and Russians are at work capturing the earth’s oil supplies.
History has demonstrated that the control of stable reserves of oil and gas is critical to the military and economic security of a nation. Those who fail to recognize this reality or prefer to ignore it do so at their country’s peril. While our public policies are unduly influenced by visions of a utopian “carbon free” society our adversaries are striking deals with Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran and Sudan while nationalizing the holdings of American energy companies. Furthermore, Russia and China have no reservations about exploiting the oil advantage once it is secured. On the contrary, they view petroleum equally as the economic fuel for their economies and the political currency with which they wield world power. For example, the Kremlin has periodically cut the flow of natural gas to the Ukraine when contractual disputes have arisen. The supply was most recently interrupted in January which also curtailed gas shipments to Europe. Russia currently supplies 50% of the natural gas to the European Union. Is there any doubt that the Kremlin will play the “oil card” if Germany or France were to fail to support Russian policies in the United Nations or elsewhere?
Lukoil and Gazprom serve the interest of Vladimir Putin. SINOPEC and CNOOC serve the geopolitical objectives of the Chinese communist leaders. Venezuelan oil profits support the grandiose visions of Hugo Chavez. Iranian oil profits serve the extremist aspirations of Mahmoud Ahmadinegad and the Shia Ayatollas. Thankfully, the success of our domestic oil companies accrue to the direct benefit of their shareholders being the tens of millions of Americans who hold their stock and indirectly to the security of our country. American policy makers and the American people must begin to understand that the control of oil and gas has become the chief geopolitical tool of those who wish us harm. We dare not allow politically correct but shockingly naïve policies to place us at the mercy of Venezuela, Iran, China or Russia.