The Other “Pivot to Asia” - The Shifting Strategic Importance of Gulf Petroleum
November 18, 2013
It is all too easy to focus on energy developments in the United States and lose sight of the overall pattern of changes in world energy production and consumption. The fact is, however, that the Department of Energy does not forecast U.S. energy independence in its reference case – only a dip to 37% dependence on foreign oil by 2040. It does not mean that the US is free of the need to pay world oil prices in a crisis. Far more important, the US already imports some $2.4 trillion worth of goods to sustain a $14 trillion economy, and some $1.2 trillion of these steadily rising imports are dependent on the stable flow of MENA, and particularly Gulf, oil and gas exports to Europe and Asia.
This is why the U.S. role in the Gulf – caught between U.S. power projection across the Atlantic and Mediterranean and across the Pacific and Indian Oceans – is so important. One of the most critical roles the US plays in serving its global strategic interests comes from securing this flow of oil – and from ensuring that no other outside power like China assumes this role.
The Burke Chair has developed a new report focusing on these trends and based on official estimates by the Energy Information Agency of the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency. It provides detailed estimates – and supporting tables and graphs—showing the future trends in oil and gas production and exports, and is entitled The Other “Pivot to Asia:” The Shifting Strategic Importance of Gulf Oil. This analysis is available on the CSIS web site at http://csis.org/files/publication/111813_Other_Pivot_Asia.pdf
Here, it becomes critical to examine the pattern of Gulf, MENA, and world exports and why these patterns are so important to US strategic interest. Both the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) and International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast increases in Gulf production that will be accompanied by radical increases in the flow of Gulf petroleum exports to Asia.