Geopolitics of hydrocarbons: Hot spot of ‘energy and geostrategy’

_AT_0229_PRENSADespite the difficulty in forecasting the evolution of the global geopolitical energy framework, both in the short and long-term, it is clear that the geopolitical and energy agendas have been undoubtedly connected to the supply and price of hydrocarbons during the last year, concludes the latest publication of the World Energy Council’s Spanish member committee ‘Energy and Geostrategy 2016’, co-edited by the Spanish Ministry of Defence.

The changing strategic role of the energy sector, terrorism, the guarantee of free maritime transit of gas and oil, the development of liquefied natural gas and its impact on global geostrategy, as well as the economic and geopolitical factors in determining oil prices, are recent examples of such a link.

Since the last edition of “Energy and Geostrategy” in 2015, other highly relevant events have also strongly influenced energy geopolitics, including the COP21 Paris Agreement  in December 2015, the Agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme with the UN Security Council member countries plus Germany in July 2015, or the persistent low level of oil prices throughout 2015.

Speaking at the publication’s launch event in Madrid on 12 May, General Admiral Fernando Garcia Sanchez, Chief of Defence of the Spanish Armed Forces, said: “Global energy security will only be achieved if we work within a diplomatic framework based on international agreements, in the fields of industry, technology, finances, research and development, and of course, in the realm of defense and security.”

According to Claudio Aranzadi, former Minister of Industry & Energy and coordinator of the project, there are international agreements that put an end to certain uncertainties but, as a consequence open new ones. Iran’s agreement is a very clear example of this statement. It has closed a major uncertainty from a geostrategic and military perspective and has created another one, related to the difficulty of reaching an agreement to stabilise oil prices, as highlighted in previous OPEC meetings.

Brigadier General Miguel Ángel Ballesteros Martín, Director of the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies, said: “It is only possible to ensure energy security through public-private partnership between the state and enterprises, which thus become strategic for our security, and whose survival and development are translated into a national need”.

Collaboration between the Spanish member committee and the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies began in 2014 with the publication of the book “Energy and Geostrategy 2014” and continued in 2015 with “Energy and Geostrategy 2015”.

Apart from the four topics already mentioned related to the geopolitics of hydrocarbons, this year’s edition has also included a chapter which assesses a decisive factor in economic development: the water-energy-food-nexus.

Dr. Arturo Gonzalo Aizpiri, Chair of the Spanish member committee, stated that this report has established itself as a reference publication for both the energy and defense sectors, and its presentation has become a key event on the Spanish energy sector calendar.

This year’s event drew almost 400 attendees including senior energy and defense experts, CEOs as well as top executives of the Spanish committee’s member companies.

During the round up session of the launch, Dr. Marta Camacho, Secretary General of the Spanish member committee, Claudio Aranzadi and General Ballesteros, analysed the main messages from the day’s discussions and looked in greater depth at topics of special interest to the international energy community, such as the repercussions of OPEC’s recent meeting in June and the growth of jihadism in Spain, both at a national and European level. They also discussed potential topics for the 2017 edition.

The videos of all the sessions which shaped the event may be found here.