Although the tense standoff between Chinese and Philippine warships at Scarborough Shoal in the northern South China Sea has been walked back from the brink, it is a harbinger of more confrontations to come. Indeed, more such incidents are inevitable if China and the four Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states — the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — that also claim the sea’s disputed islands and their adjacent waters and resources cannot agree on and implement a robust code of conduct to govern their activities there. Unfortunately, the April 2012 ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh came and […]

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In March, the Mexican Senate ratified an agreement with the U.S. governing the exploration and development of transboundary oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico. In an email interview, Duncan Wood, director of the international relations program at Mexico’s Autonomous Institute of Technology and a senior associate in the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discussed the U.S.-Mexico transboundary energy agreement. WPR: What is the history of energy cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico? Duncan Wood: Since the nationalization of Mexican oil in 1938, the relationship between the two countries in energy matters has […]

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In yet another disagreement between China and its neighbors over the disputed South China Sea, the Philippines last week claimed that one of its naval patrols had discovered eight Chinese fishing vessels loaded with illegal catch in an area it considers to be within its own exclusive economic zone. When the Philippine patrol refused to allow the fishing boats to leave the area without discharging their catch, China speeded three maritime survey ships to the area. Since then, the two countries have engaged in a standoff that continues, even though the Philippine warship allowed the fishermen to leave the area […]

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Over the past decade, rising energy prices and new techniques and technologies have allowed global energy companies to bring online new oil and gas reserves in East African countries, including Tanzania and Mozambique. But as the demand for fossil fuels grows among energy-hungry emerging economies, investors are also opening up production in previously unexplored areas. And in East Africa, this means major opportunity as well as major uncertainty. “What could really make a difference is if these countries coordinate their strategies and their resources effectively,” said Richard Downie, deputy director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and […]

Colombia is in the midst of a mining boom, with high commodities prices and Chinese demand placing its nascent mining sector at the center of the country’s economic development model. The challenge for Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is to capitalize on the sector’s promise, while avoiding some of the environmental and social challenges that have impacted other South American mining countries, such as Chile and Peru. These challenges are particularly salient for newcomers like Colombia, whose mining sector is slowly taking off. Excluding oil, mining now accounts for 30 percent of the country’s foreign investment and 24 percent of […]

Argentine officials have been ratcheting up the pressure on Spanish-owned oil company YPF-Repsol, demanding increased investment in hydrocarbon production against a backdrop of declines in output that have made Argentina one of the fastest-growing import markets for natural gas. The threat of a similar scenario with oil has the government on the offensive against the nation’s top energy company. The gas shortage is reverberating throughout the rest of the economy, driving import restrictions to shore up the trade balance and tighter currency controls to ensure the availability of dollars for purchases of foreign gas. Looking forward, the government’s posture on […]

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An agreement setting the maritime boundaries between the Bahamas and Cuba took effect last month, capping a multi-year negotiating process. In an email interview, Martin Pratt, director of research at the International Boundaries Research Unit at Durham University, discussed the Cuba-Bahamas boundary agreement. WPR: What is the background of the maritime border dispute between Cuba and the Bahamas, and what impact has it had on bilateral relations? Martin Pratt: I think the term “dispute” is probably a bit strong in this context. The Bahamas and Cuba have overlapping maritime jurisdictional entitlements, which means that it has been necessary to agree […]

Territorial disputes to determine control of offshore energy reserves and multinational efforts to secure global shipping lanes are increasingly driving naval competition and international politics. Be it in the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean or the Arctic Ocean, maritime security and diplomacy will in part determine the emerging global order. This World Politics Review special report examines diplomacy and strategy in the world’s waterways. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber? Purchase this document for Kindle or as a PDF from Scribd. Or subscribe to WPR now. […]

Monday marked the 30th anniversary of the bloody 74-day war between Argentina and Great Britain over the Falkland Islands, known in Argentina as the Malvinas, in the South Atlantic. It was an anniversary that did not go unnoticed in either country, with the islands’ offshore oil reserves largely driving the renewed attention. Exploratory oil drilling commenced in early 2010 in the waters off the string of islands where sheep have long outnumbered people. Several British oil concerns have spent the past two years drilling to assess the potential in the waters surrounding the islands, with increasing success. Though relevant for […]