If we assume the oil has changed the world in the first hundred years after its discovery, economically and politically, its power should actually disappear along with its reserves. But it seems the opposite is the case, at least one can argue about it. One cannot argue about the fact that the standard of production cannot be maintained.
The in 1944 established Saudi-Aramco is still the largest oil producer in the world, at times the world's most valuable company. Nevertheless, this giant would have to at least triple its production, should the present standards be maintained. Not to mention the increase in consumption in soaring countries such as China. And also the possible changes in Africa are not taken into account.
And although there were so many wars with the usually concealed motive of securing sources of oil, the future is far from certain. The world's policeman cannot carry on any longer. Economically, he has bitten off more than he can chew. The unemployment rate there is currently about 8 per cent. Although at present the whole world is watching the battle against the interest burden in Europe, in the case of the United States it would be much more productive. But the reserve currency still has the psychological prestige.
The allies of the U.S. feel insecure, especially Israel. It feels threatened by one of the two main actors in the Middle East, Iran. Whether Iran is now building the atomic bomb or not, Israel fears for its existence. However, in this context, we must remember that Israel has long been an important nuclear power, and in the event of a crisis it may trust the United States. The second nuclear power in the region is Pakistan, perhaps even more unpredictable than Iran.
In the context of this neighbourhood, one can well understand Iran and its justifications. Perhaps the conflict has been fuelled indeed only because Iran wants to establish itself as a noticeable state in the world again. For this aim, diplomatic disregard and embargoes are poison. First strike by Israel to prevent the completion of the bomb could go horribly wrong. It is obvious that the United States' participation is needed for the success. But they do not want to.
Besides, China won't be bound by an embargo, a fifth of the world's population needs all conceivable resources and continues to buy oil from Iran. The latter threatens the West with blocking the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world's oil is transported. Whereupon the West immediately sends a fleet of warships, as if they could effectively prevent the bombardment of tankers.
Which brings us to the threatened transportation routes. The first was the Suez Canal. Its construction is indeed brought about by the Europeans, but its added value is too long withheld from the Egyptians even long after the end of the concession. When Nasser comes to power, he manages to nationalize the canal in 1956 despite hostile actions of the Israelis, British and French.
Owing to clear hierarchies, the world seemed to be still OK at that time. Those are now - at least partially - swept away by revolutions. In the oil-exporting country Libya, the revolution is not insignificantly supported by NATO, in Egypt, the rebels must prevail by themselves. It is really bad in Syria, where the regime allows the breakout of a civil war, supported directly by Iran and indirectly by China and Russia.
Now, not only the transport of oil is threatened. At the interminable coastline of Somalia, the pirates see their only hope to escape the country's poverty and hopelessness in hijacking ships and demanding ransoms. At first, the world seemed to be helpless, now, there are a number of actions against them. However, lasting successes are a long time in the coming. Considering that 90 per cent of world trade is done by sea, this could become even more of a concern.
And to complete the negative events surrounding the oil: there is an oil spill at a deep-water drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico, which flows for months. Direct effects are less identifiable this time, probably because chemical agents were used. Whether the environment was also spared from some of the consequences, that remains questionable. At least, local people have been compensated.
Finally, a much smaller, however a German problem. The British have 'taken revenge' on the Germans because of the clearance sale of noble British car brands. In 2002, they have taken over the last remaining German oil company. Just like the BMW kept the brand names 'Mini' and Rolls-Royce', the BP has now even renamed its petrol stations in Germany to Aral. The BMW certainly would not go so far. Anyway, we owe the two historical pictures we show above to the BP. 08/12