Access to Algerian Fossil Fuels Motivates Possible U.S. Military Intervention17 Jan

According to the Boston Globe, “The French military assault on Islamist extremists in Mali escalated into a potentially much broader North African conflict on Wednesday when, in retribution, armed attackers in unmarked trucks seized an internationally managed natural gas field in Algeria and took at least 20 foreign hostages, including Americans.”

“Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called the gas-field attack a terrorist act and said the United States is considering its response. His statement suggested that the Obama administration could be drawn into a military entanglement in North Africa that it had been seeking to keep at arm’s length — even as it has conceded that the region has become a new haven for extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda.”

There have been several dozen wars in Africa during recent decades, including brutal conflicts such as the Rwandan, Burundian and Nigerian civil wars. It is noteworthy that that the United States never intervened in any of these civil wars and many other mass slaughters in Africa. An exception to the U.S. policy of near total disinterest in African carnage has been the alleged need for the United States to support the overthrow of Gaddafi during the Libyan civil war in 2011, ostensibly to avoid a massacre in that country.

In a blog post of October 31, 2012, I wrote that oil was the real motivator for U.S. military support of British and French forces in the overthrow of Gaddafi. With oil reserves of nearly 46 billion barrels (world rank of 9), Libyan oil, and unhindered access to it, is vitally important to the stability of a world economy. In contrast, Syria has approximately 2.5 billion barrels of oil in reserve (world rank of 33) and its potential absence in the world market is not important compared to Libya.

Given the relationship between geopolitics and fossil fuels, it is easy to understand why the United States is contemplating military intervention in Algeria. That country is ranked 16 in terms of oil reserves (12 billion barrels). With a world ranking of 10 in natural gas reserves, Algeria has nearly 4.5 trillion cubic meters (about 120 trillion cubic feet).

Conclusion: In recent years, the United States government has been noticeably disingenuous by avoiding mentioning access to fossil fuels as a reason for military engagement. To the best of my knowledge, the mainline media (NBC, MSNBC, CNN, etc.) has almost never undertaken any serious investigative reporting on the role that fossil fuels play in the arena of international politics. Why? Peak Oil?

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About Dr. Everson

Prior to forming this SBIR consultant practice, Dr. Jeffrey Everson was director of business development for QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group (previously Foster-Miller, Inc.).

Dr. Everson has won and been the principal investigator for several SBIR programs, including a Phase I program for NASA, a Phase I project for the U.S. Air Force, and Phase I and II contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. For the Phase II program, he received a Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in SBIR achievement.

Previously Dr. Everson held senior scientist positions at Battelle Memorial Institute, The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC), Honeywell Electro Optics Systems Division, and Itek Optical Systems Division.

He holds a PhD in physics from Boston College and a MS/BS in physics from Northeastern University.

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For more information about how JHEverson Consulting can help your company with its SBIR and STTR proposals, please contact Jeff Everson.

JHEverson Consulting is based in the Boston area but consults for clients throughout North America. It also is supported by affiliated consultants.