July 20th, 2010
Peter John Glynn
China has this week become the biggest user of oil on the planet , overtaking the USA according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Whereas once China exported the stuff, now they are a major importer and guzzler , putting pressure on supplies and raising the market price. And of course threatening the west and its massive oil companies into the bargain.
Chinese companies are now all over the globe, seeking new business deals in areas of the world which the USA and UK companies have abandoned due to international pressure.
China are concentrating a lot of their efforts in Central Asia , South America and Africa. Of course , the Middle East is a happy hunting ground , with Saudi Arabia this year selling more oil to China than the USA. China are now Saudi's biggest buyer.
Meanwhile Western Oil Companies remain under attack from public opinion , who are already educated that oil is a polluter, harmful to the planet and is running out rapidly. The BP oil leak is an ongoing environmental and political tragedy unfolding on a daily basis. The murkiness of the Gulf of Mexican waters is only matched by the geopolitical machinations of the company itself and politicians.
A small phalanx of both have been making bad headlines in their dealings with Libya in order to secure more oil for themselves in an ever increasing shark eat shark marketplace.
Now EXXON (daddy of ESSO oil) have hit the headlines, albeit for less sinister and more self protective reasons. Climate Change subscribers are jumping up and down in frustration that EXXON continues to sponsor sceptic organisations and scientists, despite an assurance that they would cease the practise. The bemoaners fail to see the irony that they themselves are sponsored to the hilt in order to reach conclusions which fit their beliefs.
Meanwhile , China is not without its pollution problems. Laying aside that it is now the biggest polluter ( again overtaking the USA in this particular league table), the Yellow Sea is today awash with an oil spill of its own, with authorities saying there will be a 10 day clean up operation. An explosion at a pipeline occurred after an ( ironically) Libyan Tanker had discharged its load , with pipe lines and storage depots bursting into flames that blazed over the weekend in the Port of Dalian.
Over in the UK , Lloyds of London ( the insurance market ) are reporting a 'supply crunch' that may or may not occur before 'peak oil' is reached in 2020. In addition , Lloyds cite other developments that will force change into how the UK will use its existing energy supllies - interestingly the first two cited are of a political nature ( Climate Change and geopolitical issues) together with a resurgence in coal and natural gas.
Control of oil is now slipping out of the hands of the West , despite numerous wars and dodgy dealings to prop up supplies now being greedily devoured by a developing Asia. Necessity being the Mother of Invention, how long before the panic button is pressed and we see the release of suppressed technology?