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Homeland Insecurity: The American empire goes for broke PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Wednesday, 29 December 2004 17:55
Homeland Insecurity: The American empire goes for broke
The first concerns China's invasion of Canadian oil fields, heretofore a U.S. energy fiefdom. The second came in the form of an all-but-hidden report from the Department of Agriculture that America, the breadbasket of the world, is now a net importer of food.

OIL If the half-dozen planned projects worth $2 billion go through, Canada, our No. 1 energy supplier, could end up sending as much as one-third of its total oil exports to China. One project would give the Chinese a 49 percent interest in a 720-mile-long pipeline running from Alberta to British Columbia. The Chinese are also eyeing an expansion of a second Canadian pipeline system, and they're discussing gaining an interest in companies with oil leases.

Much of this interest centers on extracting oil from oil sands. In the U.S., prospects for an oil sands development during the energy crisis of the early 1970s never got off the ground. It was discussed along with coal gasification as a possible alternative to what the industry at the time insisted were declining reserves. But when prices were deregulated and rose, along with profitability, all the talk about coal gas and oil sands died down. For the big international oil companies, oil sands historically have been dicey because of the high development cost, and hence reduced profitability. However, as Kang Wu of the East-West Center in Honolulu told The New York Times last week, "For China, it is foremost about securing supply and secondly about profits." And that is one reason China is willing to go so far abroad.

China's energy consumption is up some 40 percent in the past year, making it the second-biggest energy consumer in the world, ahead of Japan. Its booming economy depends on fossil fuels, especially oil imports.

By 2020 China is expected to be importing two-thirds of its oil, some 80 percent of it from the Middle East. It currently imports oil from Oman and Yemen, and China has explored deals with Saudi Arabia. Its imports of natural gas come from the Middle East as well as from Australia, and there is a possibility of China importing Caspian Sea gas through an extensive pipeline that would run all the way from Shanghai across the country into the rich Caspian finds of Central Asia.

As China's energy needs grow, emphasis shifts to protecting supply lines running through South Asia, some of them close to the always contentious straits between Taiwan and China. For the U.S. military, protecting energy supply lines always has been a prime consideration of national security. And these economic shifts in Asia can only mean a further strain on U.S. military operations in that part of the world.

More immediately, a diversion of Canadian petroleum resources to China is about the worst thing that could happen to the U.S. Since the '70s energy crisis, we have been seeking to diversify supplies, trying to shed our dependence on the Middle East, and as a result the U.S. now relies increasingly on Canada and Mexico. We have always viewed Canadian energy resources as a backup

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 December 2004 17:55
 

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