Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CBSA on China and US Energy Security

The K Street-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CBSA) issued its 76 page take on the state of the world vs. US about 6 months ago. In their "Strategy for Long Haul: Challenges to US National Security," Andrew Krepinevich and team contend the gravest future threats to the US come in 3 flavors: Radical Islam, China, and Nuclear Proliferation. While oil politics and economics are inexorably tied to the Islamic threat, it's in a burgeoning China that the report finds the greater energy-induced threat:
China ... faces major energy shortages over the long-term that could be a source of conflict. For example, China imported less than two million barrels of oil per day (bbl/d) in 2002, but that figure is projected to soar to between 9.5 and 15 million bbl/d by 2025. Today, China is the world’s second largest consumer and third largest importer of petroleum, bringing in over 40 percent of the oil required to meet domestic demand. Although the Chinese are taking steps to address their growing dependence on oil, to include the development of oil pipelines from Central Asia and Russia and the increase of natural gas imports, these will not eliminate China’s heavy dependence on oil in the foreseeable future.
So that's the demand side. Below, it appears the US has the upper hand on supply side factors ... at least at first: 
China’s growing oil and natural gas dependence could be a prescription for friction between Washington and Beijing. Thanks to its military and political alliances, the United States maintains a formidable presence in key petroleum-producing regions. The United States is capable of intervening when necessary to address threats to its energy supplies; the US fleet controls the key ocean transit routes. China possesses neither advantage. However, over time China may use its expanded military capability to deny the United States secure access to its energy supplies, thereby placing both countries’ economic security at risk. Depending upon what form these actions might take (e.g., challenging the US fleet for sea control from the Gulf to East Asia or, failing that, using its military power—its submarine fleet and extended range missiles, for example—to create a comparable threat to US offshore oil supplies or transport of same), the United States might be hard-pressed to field effective countermeasures.
Just another in the long laundry list of reasons why DOD needs to move on energy as swiftly as possible right now ... despite the faultering economy, despite the current low price of oil, despite the present relatively good state of relations with China. It's time to prepare for the inevitable ... and by thorough preparation, tilt the odds greatly in our favor.

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