Importance Of Oil And How It Has Changed World Politics



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Importance Of Oil And How It Has Changed World Politics



Importance Of Oil And How It Has Changed World Politics
In the modern civilization, oil has excellent significance. However, lots of people do rule out oil to be 
of great significance due to the fact that they only associate it with the diesel or the gas that they use 
for transportation purposes. According to Yergin (Yergin, p 17), the world is addicted to oil. Due to the 
oil's essential function in all countries all over the world particularly in the industrialized nations, there 
is need for nations to give attention to the global oil market. The Middle East plays a major role in 
world politics in relation to oil. Bulk of the world oil reserves are discovered in the Middle East and 
according to the British Petroleum business data, the Gulf oil reserves in 2005 accounted for 62 per 
cent.Of the world total oil reserves of 1,200 bn barrels, Gulf reserves represented 743bn barrels. In 
this paper, the importance of oil will be gone over and an assessment on how oil has changed the 
world politics will be given. Conversation Importance of oil Among the most essential functions of oil is 
its contribution to the global economic advancement. One of the ways through which oil causes 
financial development is its usage in offering energy for different kinds of transportation such as 
planes, cars and trains. The contemporary civilization is constructed on oil. In practically all countries 
all over the world, the transport system accounts for more than 50 per cent of oil consumption. The 
transport sector due to its high dependence on oil is approximated to contribute to the world's 90 per 
cent increase in carbon emissions in EU by 2010. Advancement and technological improvement 
increases the need for oil in the transportation sector. According to Chomat (Chomat, p 10) depends 
heavily in oil. Engdahl (Engdahl, p 23) asserts that in Europe and the United States, oil and oil-
derived products in the transport industry account for about one third of the total amount of energy 
consumed in the world. In India, China, and other developing nations in Asia, the economic 
prosperity and technological advancement has led to an increase in demand for oil in the transport 
sector as more trains, vehicles, and planes are being produced. In America, the enormous fleet of 
vehicles, trains, and planes depend on oil for 97 per cent for fuel. For countries that have oil 
reserves, oil that is used in the transport industry is much cheaper. Research conducted on the 
members of the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicated that the 
transport sector accounts for an increase in demand for oil. Due to the high demand for oil, world oil 
prices keep on increasing, making bio-fuel, solar energy and nuclear energy to become alternative 
sources of energy. Apart from being used as fuel in the transport sector, oil provides energy in the 
operation of machines in the industries, factories, and production plants. Kenneth (Kenneth, p 36) 
asserts that in the industrial and domestic buildings, oil is used for heating hence making oil one of 
the most commonly used products at home and in industries. In the industrial sector, natural gas 
produced from oil has become a primary energy source. This sector has maintained the lead in the 
consumption of natural gas and it is estimated that by 2030, the industrial sector will account for 43 
per cent of the projected use of natural gas. The gas has become an attractive choice for the power 
generating plants due to its low carbon dioxide intensity as well as its relative fuel efficiency. It is 
projected that by 2030, 35 per cent of world’s consumption of natural gas will be accounted for by the 
electricity generation plants. The developing countries consume half of the world’s production of 
kerosene which is used for lighting and for cooking. In the developed nations such as the United 


States and the European nations, kerosene is used as jet fuel. Industries and factories that produce 
plastics and paints use oil as a raw material. Industries in the modern economies rely heavily on oil to 
produce commodities and natural gas which is produced from oil fields is a major raw material in 
fertilizer production. Examples of nations that produce fertilizers from natural gas are Saudi Arabia 
which is currently one of the world’s largest oil producers. Yergin (Yergin, p 12) asserts that oil is very 
important in the production of food all over the world because it supports agricultural production 
activities. Oil that is derived from petroleum is used for heating, powering the combustion engines, 
and lighting. When it comes to heating purposes, the high boiling point of the oil is good for cooling 
systems and the non-polarity quality of oil makes it very significant for lubrication for various 
engineering purposes. This is one reason why oil is very important in industries where machines are 
used for production. The high demand for paints has been increasing over the years as 
modernization result to construction of buildings in urban and rural areas. Since the 15th century, oil 
has been used in paint production because color pigments in paints can be suspended in oil. As 
industries grow while others are newly established, demand for oil will continue to increase. How oil 
has changed world politics The use of oil in all aspects of life in the modern civilization demands that 
countries have easy access to the resource. In addition, accessing oil at a cheaper price has become 
a critical factor for countries. The desire by nations to attain economic prosperity and financial 
independence influences the diplomatic and economic relations between nations. A good example of 
how oil has shaped the world politics is the relationship between the West and Middle East.
Currently, Middle East region accounts for the largest world oil production. Saudi Arabia which 
exports oil has established diplomatic ties with the US and European nations. This influences the 
political relations between the nations. Before oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia, Britain had political 
influence in the region. When the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established, King Abdul Aziz efforts 
to give concession to either a Britain or American companies to drill oil has changed the political 
relations between the West and Middle East. The American Standard Oil of California which won the 
concession made America have control over rich oil fields in the Kingdom at the disadvantage of the 
British who were competing with America for concession. Aaron (Aaron, p 21) states that since then, 
the political relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have been good. The great 
economic benefits that oil brought to Saudi Arabia led to good diplomatic relations between the 
kingdom and the United States. Although the US had earlier shown little interest in Middle East 
political matters due to its isolationist policies, its relations with Saudi Arabia has made the US to be 
greatly involved in political matters in the region. Saudi Arabia has become an ally of the United 
States as it pursues its political interest in Middle East. For example, due to the diplomatic relations 
between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States since the 1930s, Saudi Arabia supported 
the Allies during the World War I. King Abdulaziz who is the founder of the Kingdom during the war 
allowed the United States aircraft to fly over the Kingdom’s territory. This was vital for the US and 
allied nations. In addition, the good relations between America and Saudi Arabia assisted the US to 
deploy its troops during the cold war. The US through its troops in Saudi Arabia helped it to contain 
the Soviet Union and eventually, the United States managed to gain political influence in the Gulf 
region at the expense of Britain. The Saudi oil reserves have for a long time given America security 
in relation to oil. This has enabled the US maintain its political influence as a superpower. Through 
the diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States, America has managed to influence 
the political agenda of nations such as Russia. Just like the United States, Saudi Arabia does not 
support communism that is promoted by the Soviet Union. For nations to achieve economic 
prosperity, oil is a very critical commodity. Matthew (Matthew, p 52) states that competition for 
economic and political power between nations has resulted to competition for oil. For the nations, the 
security of oil supplies has become an issue of concern which has in turn made the major oil 
producing countries which are members to the OPEC play a critical role in the security of oil supplies. 


It is estimated that 40 percent of oil demand in the world is met by oil supplies from OPEC countries 
because the countries account for 75 percent of world oil reserves. This has compelled oil exporting 
nations to develop good relations with the oil producing countries. The need to ensure that in future a 
country will have security of oil supplies has made countries to compete for the available oil 
resources. This has led to political conflicts as nations compete for the oil reserves. Furthermore, the 
oil trade has become an important issue in world politics. The efforts to take control of the oil trade 
have influenced the development of policies which have had influence on the political issues. As 
nations quest for oil, the political interests of the countries which export oil aim at obtaining adequate 
and cheap oil. The World War II had a great impact on political relations between nations that 
belonged to the Allies and the Axis alliances. The war encouraged diplomatic relations between 
nations while it increased hostility between others. According to Miller (Miller, p, 13), the Allied forces 
during the war recognized the importance of oil in the war hence it tried to drain the Axis oil reserves. 
The Oil Campaign of World War II had Allied forces bomb the oil facilities that supplied the Nazi 
Germany with oil. The Allies and the Axis got involved into a military conflict due to differences in 
political ideology and need to have power. One of the factors that currently guarantee a nation’s of its 
power over other nations is oil security. To maintain power and oil security, the Allied nations formed 
the United Nations which up to date allows the nations to promote the achievement of their political 
agenda. The relations between United States, Europe and Central Asian nations which have oil 
reserves have influenced politics in these nations. For instance, one of the Central Asian nations that 
have oil reserves that the US is interested is Kazakhastan.The oil politics in Central Asia (Oil Politics 
in Central Asia, 2009) indicate that for the US to access Kazakhstan’s oil through pipeline, the 
pipeline would need to go through Afghanistan. This is considered to be the reason why the US is 
determined to end the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The US “War on Terror” promotes the US war 
in Afghanistan which has triggered political debates and shaped political relations all over world 
.Another issue that Wright (Wright, p 18) points out about the US political interest in Middle East is 
that the US invasion in Iraq was influenced by America’s quest for oil. Various national oil companies 
compete for the strategic oil resources. For example, development in Asian nations such as Japan 
and China has made the competition for the oil between oil companies to be stiff. The companies 
have been experiencing increased competition for oil in Eurasia and Middle East .In the past, the 
Chinese Sinopec and ENPC, India’s IOC and Russia’s Lukiol have been competing for oil resources 
in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The oil deals made between the national oil companies and oil 
producing countries has encouraged good diplomatic relations between nations. Consequently, this 
makes the nations promote political agenda that does not affect the business deals. The need to 
benefit from the oil industry has encouraged trade alliances and agreements between nations. By 
forming investment alliances, national oil companies from different nations can end political hostility 
between nations. On the other hand, political hostility between nations can result from the reluctance 
of nations to get engaged in oil trade deals. For example, Russian oil companies in the past have 
been reluctant to establish alliances with Chinese and Western nations’ oil companies. This 
reluctance has continued play a role in the political relation between Russia and the nations it 
considers to be a threat. Roger (Roger, p 52) confirms that when nations establish trade deals that 
aim at ensuring that a country has access to adequate oil, good relations makes the countries offer 
each other political support when the need to do so arises. Due to the benefits the country derive 
from each other, the countries tend to support similar political interests. For instance, a nation offers 
its political support to another country to guard itself from economic loss if the country it depends on 
for oil has its oil reserves affected. The Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) for example 
has its member countries protect each others’ political agenda as long as it is for the good interest of 
the organization. The mission of this intergovernmental organization is to ensure stability of oil 
markets, unify the member countries petroleum policies and ensuring regular supply of petroleum in 


the market. In addition, the organization commitment to ensure that those who invest in the petroleum 
industry get financial returns and that oil producers get a steady income has made it necessary for its 
members to support political agenda that benefits the member states. The member states which 
include United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Algeria, Angola, Libya, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, 
Nigeria and Iran through oil have managed influence global oil prices. The internal politics of these 
nations affect the OPEC production quotas which in turn influence political interests of other nations 
which export oil.
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