As a bridge between the Middle East, the former Soviet republics, and the Euro-Atlantic zone, the Caspian Sea is increasingly at the center of the global geopolitical and commercial game. In addition to its strategic location, the Caspian Sea, according to analysts, could contain between 6 and 10 percent of the world’s gas reserves, and from 2 to 6 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Defined in 1921 as an Irano-Soviet sea, the Caspian rapidly became a source of tension after the fall of the USSR. The increased number of littoral states, rising from two to five, made it necessary to redraw national sea borders and, maybe even more importantly, to redistribute the ownership of the resources lying under the Caspian seabed. As a regional agreement was never reached, each country has started granting permits for the extraction of hydrocarbons in what it considers to be its territorial waters. These conflicting claims recently led to a generalized and alarming military buildup across the region. As a result, in the past several years a number of armed incidents have been reported that have contributed to further destabilizing an already volatile region.
Critical infrastructure enables modern society. It includes our communications and Internet, our banking systems, the means of safely delivering our supplies of food and water, health systems, defense installations, transportation networks, air traffic control systems, and logistics and port facilities. It also includes our energy and electricity supply. Power generation plants, electricity grids, and diesel, gasoline, oil, and natural gas distribution networks underpin our entire infrastructure. Critical energy infrastructure is the single most important part of the complex web of critical infrastructure. Without energy—particularly the regular supply of gasoline and diesel—no other element of our critical infrastructure can operate. This was clearly seen in the northeastern United States during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. That is why the priorities in the wake of the storm were first to reestablish power, and second to restore transit systems (buses and subways). Governments and relief organizations quickly realized that only then could other infrastructure, such as hospitals, become operational again. Threats to our energy infrastructure increasingly take different forms. They can arise from environmental hazards (as in the case of Hurricane Sandy, or the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan); industrial accidents; deliberate sabotage; and “consequential sabotage.” The latter two examples are closely connected, and will be explored further below.
Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:00

Energy Security: A Paradigm Shift

Since the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, energy security has been among the highest priorities in the security strategies and policies of developed countries. The potential risks and threats related to energy security mainly grew out of two circumstances: the predicted upcoming production peak of hydrocarbon resources vital for the modern economy, and the security of their supplies. Two key factors in the past years, however, have dramatically changed the energy sector. The first factor is the global economic crisis of the 2010s, and the other is the strategic shock from the yield of non-conventional hydrocarbon resources. Today, energy security policy requires a paradigm shift and a new model of factors and conditions for its implementation. This article offers an analysis and assessment of the changes demanding a new paradigm of efficient energy security that is adequate to the changed realities of energy markets and global economic development.