China's Oil Security Pipe Dream: The Reality, and Strategic Consequences, of Seaborne Imports   [open pdf - 3MB]

"Between now and 2025--a widely used strategic planning horizon--the world's major economies will likely still depend to a large degree on traditional energy sources. Oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), despite their economic and strategic differences, are the two with inherent naval significance, as they must be transported by sea to the extent that domestic supplies or overland pipelines are insufficient. Indeed, maritime transport is properly conceived as a default, as it is almost always significantly cheaper than any overland alternatives, many of which are simply impractical in any case. The recent global recession has further reduced tanker rates. Private-sector analysts have produced detailed forecasts of supply and demand for these two critical commodities. But no researchers have yet produced a detailed study of the strategic and naval implications of Chinese energy access. The market focus of energy intelligence firms and the lack of security and technical information informing journalists in the energy field have so far precluded analysis of the issue. This gap must be filled. The National Intelligence Council's 'Global Trends 2025' report 'projects a still-preeminent U.S. joined by fast developing powers, notably India and China, atop a multipolar international system' that 'will be subject to an increased likelihood of conflict over scarce resources'--one of them being energy. Russia will have great influence as an energy supplier. 'No other countries are projected to rise to the level of China, India, or Russia, and none is likely to match their individual global clout.' More specifically, 'Maritime security concerns are providing a rationale for naval buildups and modernization efforts, such as China's and India's development of blue-water naval capabilities.'"

2010 Naval War College Review. Posted here with permission. Documents are for personal use only and not for commercial profit.
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Naval War College Review: http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review.aspx
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Naval War College Review (Spring 2010), v. 63 no. 2
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