EnergySource

In their new report, Oil on the Water: Illicit Hydrocarbons Activity in the Maritime Domain, Global Energy Center Senior Fellow Dr. Ian Ralby and co-author Dr. David Soud of I.R. Consilium present an extensive though not exhaustive breakdown of the global illegal activity involving oil and fuel in the maritime domain, together with recommendations for how to address it.  This report builds on the research detailed in their previous reports, Downstream Oil Theft: Global Modalities, Trends and Remedies and Downstream Oil Theft: Implications and Next Steps.

The Issue: Oil and fuel theft in the maritime space constitutes billions of dollars of losses annually for governments and billions of dollars in criminal profits for corrupt individuals, reckless companies, transnational criminal organizations and terrorist groups. 

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Note: This blog is the first in a series examining the global energy transition through the lens of communities with a significant stake in the traditional energy economy. In examining the social, political, and economic dynamics, policy choices that are made or missed, and the approaches that seem most promising and scalable, there is the possibility of strengthening social cohesion and equitable outcomes amid the global energy transition.

In 2012, two of the most economically distressed regions in the United States were Eastern Kentucky and the San Joaquin Valley of Central California. Thousands of miles apart, the regions shared a key characteristic: economic dependence on the fossil fuel industry amid rapidly shifting energy markets.

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The $230 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF) is emerging as the central financial vehicle to consolidate and then exercise Saudi Arabian economic power in the service of goals outlined by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Its role in Saudi economic diversification makes the PIF the critical organ for realizing Vision 2030, and its newfound prominence at the expense of traditional economic power centers (like SAMA, the central bank) highlights the consolidation of authority under MbS.

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The European Union (EU)’s energy sector has undergone many changes in the march to create a liberalized European energy market. However, while the EU has outlined common rules and implemented shared standards, the bloc still lacks a central energy regulator akin to the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC).

The European Union has been integrating its national markets into one single market since the 1987 Single European Act, the first major revision to the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community and later the European Commission. Slowly but surely, the European Union also undertook liberalization of various sectors, introducing competition where there was a monopoly, starting with steel and coal.

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In this new issue brief, "US Nuclear-Power Leadership and the Chinese and Russian Challenge," Global Energy Center Senior Fellow Robert F. Ichord looks at the strategic significance of nuclear power, arguing “US global leadership and engagement in nuclear power are vital to US national security and foreign-policy interests.”

The Issue: While nuclear power represents a key source of reliable, emissions-free, baseload power, contributes to a diverse energy portfolio, and represents a key area of technological leadership, the United States traditional international leadership role is being severely challenged, especially by China and Russia.  

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Climate change is increasingly on the agenda for millennial conservatives.

In late February, a bipartisan coalition of thirty-four student groups from around the country—twenty-three of which are College Republican chapters—launched Students for Carbon Dividends (S4CD). S4CD advocates for the Baker-Shultz carbon dividend, a policy proposal that would impose a carbon tax of $40 per ton, return those tax proceeds to Americans taxpayers, create border carbon adjustments for exports and imports, and circumscribe the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s regulatory authority, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

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Mexico’s historic and successful energy reforms are at risk in its upcoming Presidential elections. The leading candidate for the Presidency, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, referred to as AMLO, of the Morena party, has recently doubled down on his critiques of the reforms. He has pledged to review existing oil contracts, indicated he would require national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) to refurbish six and construct two new oil refineries, and demanded that the current administration suspend the next two bid rounds if he wins the election. He has also committed to end oil exports by the middle of his term (approximately early 2022), in theory to maximize the value of Mexico’s natural resources for the state.

While strident, AMLO’s rhetoric has often been dismissed as campaign talk.

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Few countries have navigated as challenging an energy landscape as Japan in recent years. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, Japan’s dependency on energy imports has climbed to 93 percent and its energy costs have risen sharply, straining consumers and industry alike. With Japan’s forty-eight nuclear reactors offline, the country began using more coal, gas, and oil to generate electricity, driving a spike in greenhouse gas emissions that has only recently begun to abate. While some “green” shoots are visible in the form of growing renewables, maturing LNG markets, and a handful of nuclear plant restarts, these trends are not guaranteed to continue and will require sustained policy support—and societal acceptance—if Japan is to regain its energy security and decarbonization trajectory.

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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) promised economic recovery for Iran in the form of sanctions relief, and many expected it would boost the country’s prosperity and general economic outlook. However, despite the initial optimism and some positive trends following the implementation of JCPOA, broad economic improvements have not materialized. The challenges are both internal and external, including a concerted effort by the Trump Administration to thwart business with Iran.

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Bilateral and global energy issues are front and center as the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, arrives in the United States. While the biggest focus might be on Saudi Arabia’s vital role as the world’s largest crude oil exporter and the impact that growing US oil production and market influence are having on Saudi leadership and OPEC, the energy implications of the crown prince’s Vision 2030 for the modernization and diversification of the Saudi economy and opportunities for US commercial involvement are also critical. 

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