From being the lifeblood of many industries to becoming the world’s most important source of energy, and mainly since the mid 1950s, oil has been a priority that can’t be ignored. Oil products underpin modern society, mainly supplying energy to power industry, heating homes and providing fuel for vehicles and aeroplanes to keep goods and people fluid all over the world. If we dot down examples of what we owe to oil in our everyday life, the list would be never ending and moreover escalating.
Gleanings from chemical experts and sites reveal that this non polar substance is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is capable of being both hydrophobic (i.e. immiscible with water) and lipophilic (i.e. miscible with other oils). Oils entail a high carbon and hydrogen content and are usually flammable. India is, undoubtedly, blessed with averaged 697.31 BBL/D/1K oil production from 1994 until 2017. In upcoming months, India is, notably, also slated to emerge as a key market for American crude oil exports. What’s interesting here is how refineries in the country are scaling ‘test’ purchases of US grades to diversify their imports.
Oil and Blood-spills
Let’s not forget how the influence of oil, on current conflicts pulsating in the world, is often poorly understood. Exaggeration over the threat of ‘resource wars’ over possession of oil reserves is perceived high in many cases. Between one-quarter and one-half of interstate wars since 1973 have been, incidentally, associated with one or more oil-related causal mechanisms. No other commodity has had such a considerable impact on international security and equations.
This throws me a little off balance to see conflicts and intrigue shaping up over valuable energy supplies as salient features of the international landscape for a long time. Every decade is marked with some major war over oil, and that happens to be continuing since World War I. With the advent of globalisation and development in most parts of the world this issue was augured to steam down, but instead what we witness now is a whole cluster of oil-related clashes stretching across the globe, involving a dozen or so countries, and with more popping up all the time. These flash-points give signals about the kind of epoch that we are entering, and the imminent era of intensified conflict over energy that we need to gear up for.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Argentina to the Philippines, six areas of conflict, and all related to energy supplies by the way, captured headlines in just the first few months of 2012.
The Southern East Asia is, for instance, marked as the area aflame with new or intensifying conflicts over natural resources. At first glance, these upheavals could seem to be independent events, driven by their own unique and idiosyncratic circumstances. But if we peep inside the matter and look closely, we can comprehend how all these conflicts share several key characteristics – notably, a witch’s brew of ethnic, religious, and national antagonisms that have been stirred to the boiling point by a fixation on energy.
It’s interesting to assess how these conflicts are driven to a significant extent by the eruption of long-standing historic antagonisms among neighbouring (often intermingled) tribes, sects, and people.
When The Atlas Shuffles
Not only the conflicts related to oils have been formidable but so have been factors such as transportation which is done via waterways or roadways. The recent famous, and menacing, case in point is that of East China Sea.
Sinking of an Iranian tanker transporting 136,000 tonnes (or almost one million barrels) of ultra-light crude oil, known as condensate, to South Korea, collided with another cargo ship on 6 January. This led to a massive oil spill in the East China Sea which rapidly spread and sent environmentalists astir and anxious about the threat to sea and bird life in the waterway.
Experts claimed that it is the first time a petroleum product of this type has spilled at such a scale and that too when fishing was still not stopped until much later. This sure would affect China – a major seafood exporter and the impacted region is known to be rich in fisheries including species like crab, squid, yellow croaker, mackerel, among others.
Recent records of 3 February, 2018 also indicate thousands of volunteers and Indian Coast Guard personnel working to clean sludge from shores near the southern city of Chennai after a week of an oil spill that activists warned – could have dire repercussions for wildlife and fishery. The spill occurred after two tankers, one empty and the other carrying petroleum, collided near Chennai.
It’s not just about the planet
Needless to say here – Worry and concern towards the oil spill should be taken in consideration because clearing the sea of the sludge is a never-ending process. Moreover, as it deeply affects the marine life and we cannot stay inadvertent about what we do as humans.
Oil might be in abundance but at the same time its copiousness is enough of a nudge for major conflicts and wars all round the globe (especially in the Middle East). The deadly wars that many have suffered in form of The Iran-Iraq Tanker War, Chaco War, Gulf War, Invasion of Kuwait and many others show how unnecessary devastation of peace occurs over a resource. Awareness and proper management should be spread within the citizens so that oil and gas don’t fuel the global conflicts. Alternatives and innovation will also help a huge deal in taking the pressure and potential of war off this interesting resource.
There is never any use crying over spilled milk. But spilled oil, no way!
By Hridaya Khatri