Since we are still very dependent in oil and gas for our energy needs, the control for these precious commodities is a common theme for the majority
of world conflicts occurring nowadays. Here are the 6 areas of conflict that occurred in the first half of this year.
1. A brewing war between Sudan and South Sudan.
South Sudan has the oil but Sudan (Northern Sudan) has the only pipeline capable of transporting the south’s oil to international markets (and thus
generating revenue). The northerners are been demanding exceptionally high “transit fees” ($32-$36 per barrel compared to the common rate of $1
per barrel) for the privilege of bringing the South’s oil to market. Not surprisingly, a conflict occurred between the two countries.
On April 10th, forces from the newly independent state of South Sudan occupied the oil center of Heglig, a town granted to Sudan as part of a
peace settlement that allowed the southerners to secede in 2011. The northerners, based in Khartoum, then mobilized their own forces and drove the
South Sudanese out of Heglig. Fighting has since erupted all along the contested border between the two countries, accompanied by air strikes on
towns in South Sudan. Although the fighting has not yet reached the level of a full-scale war, international efforts to negotiate a cease-fire and a
peaceful resolution to the dispute have yet to meet with success
2. Naval clash in the South China Sea
With China claiming all of the South China Sea as theirs, no wonder that conflicts with other claimant countries will occur. China's current conflict
is with the Philippines. China is basing their claim based on historical records. It is like Mongolia claiming China as theirs now because it was in
the history of Mongolia that they controlled China before or Italy claiming Greece as theirs now because in is in the history of Rome that they owned
Greece before. Political maps change. China should accept now that based on International Law of the Sea, the Philippines has the valid claim on the
area of conflict now. Besides, even the Philippines has historical record on their claim which dates back in 1700's. China has older historical claim
though, the area of conflict was mentioned in their history books that they already knew the area thousands of years ago.
That area btw, is believed to be rich in oil reserves.
On April 7th, a Philippine naval warship, the 378-foot Gregorio del Pilar, arrived at Scarborough Shoal, a small island in the South China Sea,
and detained eight Chinese fishing boats anchored there, accusing them of illegal fishing activities in Filipino sovereign waters. China promptly
sent two naval vessels of its own to the area, claiming that the Gregorio del Pilar was harassing Chinese ships in Chinese, not Filipino waters. The
fishing boats were eventually allowed to depart without further incident and tensions have eased somewhat. However, neither side has displayed any
inclination to surrender its claim to the island, and both sides continue to deploy warships in the contested area.
3. Egypt cuts off the natural gas flow to Israel
After the ouster of Mubarak, Egypt is seeking a more independent Egyptian foreign policy that is less beholden to the United States and Israel. Egypt
decided to terminate its contract to supply gas to Israel. This will result in energy shortages in Israel, especially during peak summer demand
periods. The Egyptian-Israeli gas link was one of the most significant outcomes of the 1979 peace treaty, and its annulment clearly signals a period
of greater discord between the two countries.
On April 22nd, the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company informed Israeli energy officials that they
were “terminating the gas and purchase agreement” under which Egypt had been supplying gas to Israel. This followed months of demonstrations in
Cairo by the youthful protestors who succeeded in deposing autocrat Hosni Mubarak and are now seeking a more independent Egyptian foreign policy --
one less beholden to the United States and Israel. It also followed scores of attacks on the pipelines carrying the gas across the Negev Desert to
Israel, which the Egyptian military has seemed powerless to prevent.
4. Argentina seizes YPF
YPF is Argentina's largest oil company and Argentina decided to take a 51% controlling stake in YPF, which is now majority-owned by Spain’s largest
corporation, the energy firm Repsol YPF. This definitely did not sit well with Spain. Spain in return announced that it would stop importing biofuels
from Argentina, its principal supplier in a trade worth nearly $1 billion a year to the Argentineans.
On April 16th, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced that her government would seize a majority stake in YPF, the
nation’s largest oil company. Under President Kirchner’s plans, which she detailed on national television, the government would take a 51%
controlling stake in YPF, which is now majority-owned by Spain’s largest corporation, the energy firm Repsol YPF. The seizure of its Argentinean
subsidiary is seen in Madrid (and other European capitals) as a major threat that must now be combated. Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel
García Margallo, said that Kirchner’s move “broke the climate of cordiality and friendship that presided over relations between Spain and
Argentina.” Several days later, in what is reported to be only the first of several retaliatory steps, Spain announced that it would stop importing
biofuels from Argentina, its principal supplier -- a trade worth nearly $1 billion a year to the Argentineans.
5. Argentina re-ignites the Falklands crisis
During the Summit of Americas in Colombia, Argentina sought hemispheric condemnation of Britain’s continued occupation of the Falkland Islands
(called Las Malvinas by the Argentineans). It won strong support from every country present save (predictably) Canada and the United States. Result of
recent seismic surveys of the waters surrounding the islands indicated the existence of massive deposits of oil and natural gas. The fight for
Falklands shifted to the gas and oil deposits believed to be present in the area.
At an April 15th-16th Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia -- the one at which U.S. Secret Service agents were caught fraternizing
with prostitutes -- Argentina sought fresh hemispheric condemnation of Britain’s continued occupation of the Falkland Islands (called Las Malvinas
by the Argentineans). It wonstrong support from every country present save (predictably) Canada and the United States. Argentina, which says the
islands are part of its sovereign territory, has been raising this issue ever since it lost a war over the Falklands in 1982, but has recently stepped
up its campaign on several fronts -- denouncing London in numerous international venues and preventing British cruise ships that visit the Falklands
from docking in Argentinean harbors. The British have responded by beefing up their military forces in the region and warning the Argentineans to
avoid any rash moves.
6. U.S. forces mobilize for war with Iran
We know very well that oil is the driving force for this conflict.
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