To what extent is the global supply of energy dependent on co-operation between different countries? (15) The global supply of energy is concentrated within the 12 OPEC countries. (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). These countries hold a vast amount of the world’s oil and gas reserves with 81% of proven oil reserves and 49% of proven gas reserves. The aim of the organisation is to unify petroleum policies so that there is a steady supply of energy to consumers, and a steady income for themselves- the producer. OPEC sets production targets for its member nations and generally, when OPEC production targets are reduced, oil prices increase. This was clearly seen in the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo against the US and the West in response to the US’s involvement in the Yom Kippur war against Egypt. The OPEC countries prohibited trade with the USA, UK, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands. It caused the price of oil to rocket, and many countries went in to depression.
This shows the importance of cooperation between OPEC member states, as their decisions can affect the price of energy. Furthermore, it emphasises the importance of countries such as the USA cooperating with oil producing countries such as the OPEC countries where energy has been used as a source of power. Another on-going issue that highlights the extent to which global energy supply depends on international cooperation is the current situation in Russia. Russia has 20% of the world’s gas reserves and supplies the EU with 25% of its gas, giving it great economic and political power. Over the past year there has been conflict between Ukraine and Russia- this led to Russia cutting off gas supplies to Ukraine momentarily.
However, Ukraine is in a geographically important position between Russia and its markets in Europe with three pipelines transporting 70% of Europe’s gas from Russia. This shows the extent to which cooperation between countries is essential for a reliable source of energy. However, some might argue that the conflicts such as the Arab Oil Embargo and recent events in Russia, have led to many countries exploring ways to supply energy domestically. For example, the US have invested in Shale Oil and the UK are expanding their renewable energy such as biofuels and wind. Thus, making international cooperation less important in the supply of energy.
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