The power of energy
Preliminary findings – Work package 5 The power of energy (January 2011 by work package leader Dag Harald Claes, UiO)
Research on the strategies of major oil companies in the Arctic has been carried by way of literature search and interviews in key companies. Preliminary findings are that these companies are less aggressive in their pursuit of Arctic resources than what is commonly assumed in the ‘resource race literature’ and also that the companies see scope for collaboration, not only competition. At least in the shorter term the rising expectations for unconventional gas reserves onshore have dampened interest in the Arctic offshore (Moe and Guldbrandsen, forthcoming).
In the longer term a scenario of "a new cold war" and "a mad dash” for resources is no more likely than a scenario forecasting low economic activity and low future commercial and political interest in the Arctic oil and gas resources. The unevenly distribution of resources implies that future development of Arctic oil and gas might contribute to diversification of supply in terms of regions, but not states (Offerdal 2010).
Future research on Arctic oil and gas issues should include studies of political and economic factors in selected sub regions of the Arctic, as we assume different drivers and dynamics behind oil and gas activities in various part of the Arctic. In a case study we found the Russian Arctic gas resources as having double-edged implications for European energy security, as new Russian resources adds to the global reserve base – to the economic benefit of consumers, but the same time they can increase European dependency on Russia – to the geopolitical disadvantage of the gas consuming countries (Claes and Harsem 2010).
This relates to our conceptual study of energy security. Here we found the public debate and political strategies to increase security of energy supplies to be based on an out-dated understanding of global energy markets, uninformed by the more complex relationship between geological, economic and political factors. In our study we thus disentangled the various aspects of the concept of energy security in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of how structural changes (both political and economic) influence constraints and opportunities for achieving energy security, the mechanisms involved, and the policy implications that follows (Claes 2010).