Publications

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Most consumers in the United States are familiar with the advances in the electrification of cars and, perhaps to a lesser extent, with innovations in automotive biofuel. However, the importance of powering the aviation sector (both military and commercial) through sustainable fuels cannot be overstated. David Hitchcock’s paper, “Ready for Takeoff? Aviation Biofuels Past, Present, and Future,” provides a keen look at the history of biofuels, current uses of biofuel, and investments in research and development that will yield future dividends.

Hitchcock explains the context of US policy on biofuels, anchored in the revamped Renewable Fuel Standard as part of the 2007 Energy Policy Act, and also examines the interplay between federal and state legislation, using the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard as a case study. Finally, Hitchcock provides an overview of some of the most exciting research in the field, highlighting the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium and its innovations in producing biofuel through aquaculture.

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As oil has faced increasing competition from other energy sources—from natural gas to renewables, many observers are questioning the future of oil demand. Against this backdrop of uncertainty, a number of sovereign wealth funds—which had originally been created as holders of oil wealth, now have mandates that include economic diversification.

In her report, “Sovereign Investors: A Means for Economic Diversification?” Bina Hussein provides case studies of four sovereign wealth funds: the Kuwait Investment Authority, the UAE’s Mubadala Investment Company, the Qatar Investment Authority, and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. As an analytic counterpoint, Hussein also examines the case of Singapore’s Temasek. Throughout, Hussein argues for transparency metrics and measures in governance that will help sovereign investors build partnerships in a wide range of industries, bolstering countries’ efforts to move beyond reliance on oil.

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Over the last ten years, the United States has become the world’s leading producer of oil and gas, going from energy import dependence to energy dominance. This shift is due to the ability to produce from shale plays, a story which started in Texas and grew to have global ramifications. In a new report, The Future of Shale: The US Story and Its Implications, Global Energy Center Senior Fellow Ellen Scholl looks at the factors which enabled the rise of oil and gas production from shale deposits, focusing on the developments which have transpired in Texas.

This Global Energy Center report examines the Texas experience to draw lessons learned for countries hoping to utilize their shale resource potential and implications for global energy markets and geopolitics. The report concludes that the US case illustrates the challenges of operating in both a rural and an urban environment, underscores the unique advantages of the enabling ecosystem in the country, and demonstrates the importance of size and scale.

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In this Spotlight, we ask: What are the four of the top action items President Bolsonaro might prioritize in his first one hundred days in office.

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As energy markets and technologies rapidly change, international oil companies (IOCs) are facing a set of interconnected challenges that will fundamentally affect their business models. From changes in the supply and demand picture, to shifts in how energy is produced and consumed, to public pressure to decrease greenhouse gas footprints, companies have a wide range of issues to consider as they decide how to prepare for an unpredictable future. In a new issue brief, “Navigating the Energy Transition: International Oil Company Diversification Strategies,” Global Energy Center Senior Fellow David Koranyi provides a macro picture of select IOC’s strategic (re)thinking and explores some of the strategies IOCs have undertaken to diversify their portfolios and prepare for the unfolding energy transition.

IOCs have diverging views on many of the issues at hand and have chosen to address the energy transition in different ways, so which strategies will ultimately be successful? Only time will tell which companies will benefit from the current energy transition and which ones will struggle to cope with the disruptions to come, and to what extent the oil industry can play a constructive role in developing a new, more climate friendly energy system for the twenty-first century.

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In one of the most consequential presidential elections in the country’s recent history, Brazilians elected Jair Messias Bolsonaro their next president on October 28, 2018, after two highly contested rounds of voting that left Brazilians deeply divided.

In this Spotlight, we ask: What are four of the top issues President Jair Bolsonaro might prioritize in his first one hundred days in office?

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What are the contours, challenges, and opportunities in the all-important US-South Korean-Japanese trilateral security relationship during a period of rapidly evolving geopolitics in and around the Korean Peninsula? The trilateral relationship is more salient than ever in the aftermath of the accelerated nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Although assessing the intensity and depth of trilateral security cooperation or a lack thereof is hardly a new issue, the stakes are arguably the highest since the outbreak of the North Korean nuclear crisis in the early 1990s. In this Atlantic Council report, Dr. Chung-min Lee tackles the important questions of how the trilateral security relationship will respond to developments on the Korean Peninsula, and what the road ahead for the US-South Korean-Japanese relationship look like.

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As the fastest growing energy market in the OECD over the past decade and a country dependent on imports for almost all of its hydrocarbon demand, Turkey’s energy sector carries regional implications. Securing a reliable and affordable source of energy, through diversification and increased domestic production, has formed the cornerstone of Turkey’s energy policy. In a special issue, jointly published with Turkish Policy Quarterly, the Atlantic Council IN TURKEY explores the changing energy dynamics in Turkey and the region. Including contributions from six Atlantic Council Global Energy Center experts and officials from the US State Department and Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the issue analyzes the key trends shaping changes in the energy sector from Iran and Iraq to the Caspian and Mediterranean as well as the ongoing transition to clean energy.

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North Central Europe has become the central point of confrontation between the West and a revisionist Russia. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is determined to roll back the post-Cold War settlement and undermine the rules-based order that has kept Europe secure since the end of World War II. Moscow’s invasion and continued occupation of Georgian and Ukrainian territories, its military build-up in Russia’s Western Military District and Kaliningrad, and its “hybrid” warfare against Western societies have heightened instability in the region have made collective defense and deterrence an urgent mission for the United States and NATO.

The United States and NATO have taken significant steps since 2014to enhance their force posture and respond to provocative Russian behavior. Despite these efforts, the allies in North Central Europe face a formidable and evolving adversary, and it is unlikely that Russian efforts to threaten and intimidate these nations will end in the near term. Now, ahead of NATO’s seventieth anniversary there is more that can and should be done to enhance the Alliance’s deterrence posture in the region. In this vein, the government of Poland submitted a proposal earlier this year offering $2 billion to support a permanent US base in the country.

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As the United States faces important decisions regarding its future role in Syria’s conflict, a new Atlantic Council report by Dr. Steven Heydemann, “Rethinking Stabilization in Eastern Syria: Toward a Human Security Framework,” provides important context, analysis, and strategic policy recommendations.

Only two areas in Syria remain outside of the control of the Assad regime, and the United States maintains a military presence in both. In this report, the author contends that if the United States has an interest in shaping the closing trajectory of the conflict in Syria, it has a narrow window in which to do so. In eastern Syria, the United States has an opportunity to use stabilization to advance both short- and long-term interests. It can adopt a stabilization strategy that will improve the well-being of communities in eastern Syria, develop effective, legitimate local authorities, and assist local communities in preparing for an uncertain political future.

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