opinion | It’s not just high oil prices. It’s a complete energy crisis.
Look at the Mediterranean, for example. Europe’s separation from Russia will intensify geopolitical tensions over gas around the sea. In the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey resents its exclusion from energy projects and increasingly struggles to assert its interests. When Turkey struck a deal with Libya in November 2019 to claim new maritime economic borders for itself in the eastern Mediterranean, EU leaders denounced the agreement as a violation of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty and inconsistent with UN law. Now the route of a pipeline to transport eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe is causing tensions not only between Turkey and its neighbors, but also within NATO.
On the other side of the Mediterranean, Algeria is another potential source of energy for Europe. But this also comes with geopolitical complications: Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonatrach announced last month that it might raise gas prices to Spain after Madrid withdrew its support for Algeria in mid-March due to the long-running dispute between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara. .
Less Russia also means more problems in the Middle East. Without Russian help, another Iran nuclear deal becomes less likely, even as Moscow’s war amplifies all of Mr. Biden’s incentives to restore Iran’s energy exports. Rather than break with Russia, Arab oil producers seem to have doubled down on OPEC Plus, the world’s new oil cartel with an underlying anti-American slant. The shale oil boom has forced Saudi Arabia to seek broader alliances, including with Russia. Now, as tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia subside over Syria and Yemen, the Saudis will prioritize managing their rivalry with Russia over China – the world’s largest oil export market – and the two countries’ shared interests in a non-dollar payment system.
It is not only international politics that is shaped by the sustainability of current energy consumption. Domestic politics is also unstable.
By denouncing oil companies not ramping up production, Biden has decided to privilege voters desperate for spot price cuts over Democrats who insist the climate crisis must remain the priority. For the EU, the fact that European consumers are filling Moscow’s war coffers has forced unpalatable ethical issues to the surface. When the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, asked Italians: “Do you prefer peace or air conditioning?”
But the reality is, as Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice chancellor and economy minister, admitted before leaving for a trip to gas-rich Qatar last month, there is no “value-based” strategy for fossil fuel energy for European countries other than importing everything they have. Power from the United States, Canada or Australia, which is impossible.
In Europe, the patent on energy has been torn and will not be easily restored. There, the Western political taboo about talk of reducing energy consumption by means other than greater efficiency has been morally exhausted. It remains to be seen whether in the United States, the ghosts of President Jimmy Carter’s failed warnings to sacrifice for personal comfort (wearing sweaters indoors, for example) as a way to restore American energy independence will prove less fleeting. Thanks to shale, the United States is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, which makes the country’s energy policies very different from those of most European countries, where dependence on foreign energy has been an uncomfortable fact of life for more than a century.