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A Red Crude Rising Ronald Lairchild (March 18th, 2006)

In 1986 Tom Clancy and Larry Bond wrote a war-thriller called Red Storm Rising. Not one of Clancy’s usual “sniper-supermodel” pieces, Red Storm Rising envisioned what would happen if the now defunct USSR went to war with NATO. The novel has gained a fair amount of attention from military theorists and practitioners across the world: “Red Storm Rising is basic literature at many military academies inside and outside the United States, as are several other books by Tom Clancy. It is also frequently referred to by military scientists and is widely regarded as being one of the most realistic scenarios of an East-West war.” (1) Of course both NATO and the USSR aren’t what they were in the mid-1980s, but there are still some potent realities which can NOT be ignored by anyone who bases their economy on the price of oil.

At the beginning of Red Storm rising Islamic fundamentalist Azerbaijani terrorists cause a major Soviet oil production facitly to go up in smoke and placing the USSR in a serious problem. The leadership (an admitadly foolhardy Politburo) decides that war is their best option; order to get the oil they need the Soviet forces begin planning an assault on the Arab Nations around the Persian Gulf. To cover their assets the USSR also decides to invade West Germany. The war quickly decends into an ugly and tenuous stalemate, with the eventual overthrow of the Politburo. Many may think that because the USSR has passed into history that the senario is now defunct,
but one again recent events shine a light on something most would hope is only fiction.

In 2005 the USA had a little oil crisis of its own: starting in August it seemed that things would never be the same for Dixie. The damage from Hurrican Katrina took most of the United States by surprise, and as the flood waters recieded one thing was very clear… oil prices were going to be a lot different in the future. All over the continent the price of gasoine shot up and up, seeming to double overnight (rising to about $7 American per gallon). A string of storms before Katrina, some bad refinery fires, and finally the hurrican’s destruction caused a major upset to the American ecomomy. This was due to the following: “The Gulf Coast region accounts for 30% of US total oil production, 20% of natural gas production, and 40% of imported oil docks in that region..” (2) The American Presedent decided to dip into the Stratigic Petrolium Reserve (SPR): “On August 31, 2005, President George W. Bush authorized the SPR to loan oil to help refineries whose operations had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. In addition, the President announced the sale of 30 million barrels to maintain supplies and calm markets.

Katrina had shut down an estimated 95% of crude production and 88% of natural gas output in the Gulf of Mexico. This amounted to a quarter of total U.S. output. About 735 oil and natural gas rigs and platforms had been evacuated due to the hurricane.” (3) The SPR is divided between four different sites, two of each of those sites located in Louisana and Texas and represents over 720 million barrels of crude oil. Two of the sites equalling about 300 million barrels is located in a state devistated by Hurrican Katrina… While the salt caverns that hold this oil are 1000 metres from the surface and are supposedly safe against such things as storms it is wise to note that nothing is sabotage-proof. One dosen’t have to bomb 720 million barrels of oil… the SPR is a bomb.

With the rise in security due to increased levels of international terrorism there is little reason to think to that the SPR is vunerable to attack. Still, George W. Bush stated that not only is it a priority to negate the USA’s dependence on forgien oil, but it is also a priority to make sure that the SPR is filled due to its direct link to American national security. Gasolie and oil literally fule war, and vast ammounts of it are needed to keep even a limited campaign on the move. If a fundimentalist group (or other similarly minied orinization) truly wished to limit America’s ability to influence world affairs one of their targets might be the SPR. Places like Bryan Mound just south of Houston aren’t exatly paragons of security, and while those guarding the SPR are far from harmless they are far from impervious.

The incapacitation if the US SPR could vault that nation onto a war footing. What might happen if the US finds itself in the middle of an energy crisis? Could a terrorist group pierce the security of the SPR and render the US unable to fule even a war on its own soil? In the movie Goldfinger a
madman seeks to irradiate the US gold reserve with a stolen nuclear warhead; its seems laughable to compare such a movie to reality, but the possibilty is there. If the nation that consumes one quarter of the world’s oil supply finds that the party is over who will be first on the menu?


Resources

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Storm_Rising
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_oil_reserve
4. http://cryptome.org/spr/spr-eyeball.htm





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