My talk: JFK Institute, Berlin: How “The Global Barrel” shapes Washington-EU relations

You’re invited to my lecture at The JFK Institute of North American Studies at Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday 6 PM. Here is the flyer, then the Abstract.  Tschüß!


“The Global Barrel”

Today’s globalized market-centered energy system defines Washington’s relations with the EU, Japan and OPEC states

Thomas W O’Donnell, Ph.D.

Abstract for JFK Program of Freie Universität, Berlin

In spite of all efforts to develop alternative fuels for transportation, petroleum distillates still fuels fully 95% of all human transportation.  Furthermore, an abundance of newly discovered oil and gas resources are now coming to market, further undermining the economic competitiveness of alternative fuels, while dedicating land to large-scale bio-alternatives production has been shown to severely interfere with food security.  In addition, fueling cars and trucks without hydrocarbons remains a significant research and development challenge. All this has kept oil stubbornly at the center of economics and geopolitics.

The nationalization of OPEC states’ oil in the 1970’s ended the neo-colonial energy era, dominated by seven large private oil companies and their cartels, leading to the evolution of a new “Global Barrel” energy system.  The present, globalized oil system gradually emerged with the USA as its principal actor and protector. This system is based on the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, consisting principally of First World states. In the 1970’s the OECD’s newly established strategic oil reserves successfully counterbalanced/neutralized the OPEC “cartel’s” embargo weapon.  By the late 1980’s, a de facto collusion evolved between the IEA/OECD states and the Saudi-led faction of OPEC-states, the faction closely allied with the U.S.

Practical examples will be given of how “the role of oil” in today’s One Global Barrel system strongly defines the relationship of Washington with Berlin and other E.U. states plus Japan, and, in general, defines the OECD states’ relations with OPEC states of Latin America and the Middle East—as exemplified by the experiences of two Gulf Wars and the present Iran “nuclear confrontation.”

This market-centered collective energy security system is also presently strongly delimiting China and Russia’s relationships with Washington, the EU and Japan as they become more deeply involved in global energy matters.

By the way; Obama will (finally) speak at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on June 19. 


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