Thursday, August 18, 2011

Petroleum Is King: Two Notes

Two news stories point to the strategic importance of petroleum.

Petroleum is one of the biggest products to ship across the Arctic Ocean. A story at tells of two tankers carrying petroleum from Murmansk, Russia’s main European Arctic port, to Pacific ports. The first left port in June, one of several ships to test the waters early this season. The other crossed the Arctic Ocean in only eight days at the end of July, which is said to be a record. It was aided, of course, by the record low ice in the Arctic Ocean.

In Libya, the popular army says it has captured the last of the country’s oil refineries, and the one that was supplying motor fuel to the former government in the capital of Tripoli. It’s seemingly the last indignity for the former government’s army, which crumbled during the standoff of the last three months, a decline that became obvious only last week when the popular army started to move forward. Depleted of personnel, the former government’s army now will have to operate confined to the capital and without fuel. Military tactics are often economic tactics. An army, even if it did still have people, cannot do much without fuel, so the pipeline cuts of Tuesday night figure to leave the army in Tripoli isolated and all but forgotten by the outside world.