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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently returned home after his latest trip to Cuba to seek cancer treatment. In an email interview, H. Michael Erisman, a professor of international politics and Latin America at Indiana State University specializing in Cuban foreign relations, discussed Cuba-Venezuela relations. WPR: What is the recent history of the Cuba-Venezuela relationship? H. Michael Erisman: In a nutshell, the relationship has been extremely close in both the bilateral and the larger multilateral dimensions. The multilateral dimension refers to Cuban-Venezuelan cooperation in hemispheric affairs. The centerpiece project here is the Bolívarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), which seeks to […]

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The political unrest that has gripped Syria over the past year, and the sanctions that resulted, have had a devastating impact on the country’s economy. Sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union have targeted members of the Syrian government, frozen international banking transactions and halted Syrian oil exports. And the resulting economic decline, which is just beginning to make headlines, has major implications not only for the Syrian government, but also for the Syrian people. Ayesha Sabavala, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s editor and economist for the Middle East and North Africa, explained that as the economy declines, the likelihood […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on China’s geopolitical interests in the Mekong River Basin. Part I examines the politics and impact of hydroelectric projects on the Mekong River Basin. Part II will examine the security challenges to China’s efforts toward economic integration of the Mekong River Basin. Two decades after the Paris Peace Accord that ended the proxy war in Cambodia, the Mekong Basin has re-emerged as a region of global significance. The rapid infrastructure-led integration of a region some call “Asia’s last frontier” has created tensions between and among China and its five southern […]

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Indian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma visited Hanoi earlier this month to discuss cooperation in energy, medicine and information technology with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. In an email interview, David Brewster, a visiting fellow at the Strategic and Defense Studies Center at the Australian National University and the author of “India as an Asia Pacific Power,” discussed India-Vietnam relations. WPR: How extensive are trade and diplomatic ties between Vietnam and India? David Brewster: India and Vietnam have a long-standing political relationship dating back to the 1960s, when India gave rhetorical support to North Vietnam’s fight […]

Sandwiched between OPEC members Ecuador and Venezuela, Colombia has for decades looked like an Andean misfit because it was not a major oil exporter. But when Venezuela’s foreign minister visited Bogotá in November, he reportedly asked his counterpart, “When is Colombia going to join OPEC?” Quietly, Colombia has become the fourth-largest oil producer in Latin America, after Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil. Today, Colombia produces nearly 1 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), almost double its output in 2005. By 2015, Colombia’s oil minister expects the country to produce 1.5 million bpd. Improved security is the most obvious reason for […]

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Spain’s Repsol and China’s Sinopec announced the discovery of a huge oil reserve off the coast of Brazil late last month. In an email interview, Mark Langevin, the director of the consulting firm Brazil Works, discussed Brazil’s offshore oil resources. WPR: What is the size and scope of Brazil’s offshore oil finds, and where do efforts to develop them stand? Mark Langevin: For decades Brazil and its national oil company, Petrobras, struggled to achieve energy security to fuel national development and a stable balance of trade. In 2006 this struggle ended with the discovery of a 4 billion to 8 […]

If you’re looking for a good example of an oxymoron, or at the very least of a counterintuitive situation, nothing works better than the famed “resource curse.” The idea that great natural wealth might in fact contribute to keeping a country poor has captured the public imagination precisely because it helps explain a phenomenon that is one of the great paradoxes of our time: Countries blessed with fabulous riches are often also cursed, perhaps inevitably, with grinding poverty. But the phenomenon with the catchy title deserves a closer, critical look, because recent evidence suggests that the potion for breaking the […]

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South Korea signed a 20-year deal to import liquefied natural gas from Qatar during a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the Persian Gulf state last month. In an email interview, Jae-Seung Lee, a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Korea Studies Program and a professor at Korea University, discussed South Korea’s energy security. WPR: What is the breakdown of South Korea’s energy consumption, in terms of fuel types and sources? Jae-Seung Lee: Oil is still dominant in South Korea’s primary energy consumption, currently making up 39.7 percent, although this has decreased substantially from its peak of 52 percent […]

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Anti-nuclear protesters took to the streets in Germany, France and Belgium to mark the one-year anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. Protesters called for a reduction in the reliance on nuclear energy. World News Videos by NewsLook

Even as India refuses to join the U.S.-led sanctions regime on Iran, New Delhi is simultaneously cementing ties with Tehran’s long-standing rival, Saudi Arabia. Last month saw the first-ever visit by an Indian defense minister to the kingdom in a move that signals as much New Delhi’s willingness to emerge as a net provider of security to Saudi Arabia as Riyadh’s desire to look beyond Pakistan for its security needs. At a deeper level, the visit underscored the fact that the Gulf Cooperation Council — of which Saudi Arabia is the largest constituent — and India now view each other […]

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In January, Bulgaria banned hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, after nationwide protests against the natural gas extraction method. In an email interview, Tomasz Daborowski, an analyst in the Central European department at the Center for Eastern Studies in Warsaw, discussed Bulgaria’s energy security. WPR: What is the current size and scope of Bulgaria’s energy sector, and what are its estimated reserves? Tomasz Daborowski: The energy sector in Bulgaria is relatively small in global terms but quite considerable compared to other Bulgarian industries and to other energy sectors in Southeastern Europe. The power sector is the most important: The country has one […]

Energy security has become a strategic as well as an operational imperative for U.S. national security. As tensions continue to escalate with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, it has become clear that the U.S. military urgently requires new approaches and innovative technologies to improve fuel efficiency, increase endurance, enhance operational flexibility and support a forward presence for allied forces while reducing the vulnerability inherent in a long supply-line tether. Assured access to reliable and sustainable supplies of energy is central to the military’s ability to meet operational requirements globally, whether keeping the seas safe of pirates operating off the […]