Energy security is one of the most discussed topics in the energy industry today. However, it is still a relatively new concept. There a few events in recent history that have inspired countries to worry about becoming more energy secure and independent. Leaders have also broadened the definition of energy security to include other threats.
What is Energy Security?
Energy security is widely viewed as the ability to possess a stable supply of energy. This way states would not have to rely on other states for valuable resources such as oil and gas, especially during times of turmoil and instability. Energy security has also grown to encompass protection from a wide variety of threats including natural disasters, man-made disasters, and even cyberattacks.
Oil Crises in the Middle East
The Middle East has proven to be an especially volatile region throughout much of history. However, it is also one of the world’s most important sources of oil. Energy security became a burning issue in Europe during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Oil supply instability did not end there. It became a problem once again during the Yom Kippur War and the Iranian Revolution. In 1974 the international community responded by creating the International Energy Agency and stockpiling oil.
The 9/11 attack on U.S. soil also opened up new threats to oil security. Experts realized that oil supply systems could be potential targets for terrorist groups, especially when transporting oil from other regions. They weren’t just at risk for physical attacks, but also cyber attacks.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina wiped out more than homes and businesses. It also destroyed crude oil production facilities and petroleum refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Natural disasters did not fit into previous definitions of threats to energy security. After all, they were not a threat from a foreign country or a terrorist act. They are uncontrollable and often completely unpredictable. The United States is not the only country to have their resources struck by disasters. Japan and the Philippines have also suffered.
During the last century, experts have expanded on the traditional idea of energy security. The have had to adapt to new threats such as revolutions, terrorist attacks, and even natural disasters. The concept is constantly evolving and will continue to be molded by the threats of the future.