Why the left is Saudi Arabia’s greatest ally

Parliament Street’s Director of Energy and Security comments on the surprise unspoken alliance between the left and Saudi Arabia.

 

In the past week since Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah’s death, there has been criticism from pundits on the right and left of our western leaders attending his funeral.

Indeed, I would agree with them that Saudi Arabia has an atrocious human rights record. Women and minorities have little rights and public capital punishment occurs frequently. However the Saudis and Western liberals have one thing in common that makes these two groups unlikely allies –both groups despise energy independence.

To be sure, their goals are different; the environmentalists want to see us move to green energy and OPEC countries would welcome if the UK went green. It would mean that when sustainable energy undoubtedly fails to meet demand, the result is a win for OPEC.

The UK imports about 14 million barrels of oil a year from Saudi Arabia, and while that’s a small amount compared to what we import from Norway or Russia, we also imported about 41% of our crude oil supply from other OPEC African countries, mostly Nigeria and Algeria.

Saudi Arabia controls OPEC and the price of oil has fallen drastically in the last six months. Despite other OPEC countries like Nigeria and Iran hurting economically, The Saudi’s have kept output high and demand low. They have increased the number of barrels per day (30 million) while demand from Asia and the US remains low. There are several reasons for this, but the main conclusion of most oil and gas analysts are they want to flood the market with cheap oil in hopes to stifle the US natural gas revolution.

It’s in the interest of Saudi Arabia from keeping their other markets open. If they lose Europe as a main consumer, they lose their economic wealth and geopolitical capital.

In the UK and across Europe, leftist environmental groups are winning and Europeans are loosing. For example, Germany, once touted as the “flagship for green energy”, was one of the first European countries to ban fracking and embrace wind and solar, but not without major cost to their economy.

The European shift from shale, nuclear and coal-powered energy to renewables is good news for OPEC. Germany is now reliant on over 45% of their energy from OPEC and Russia since their green revolution.

2013 was the first year the UK became a net importer vs an exporter of oil and gas. All the while, the Government spends an average of 200 million a year on renewable energy subsidies. This should be a wake-up call for politicians to increase our supply of domestic energy, but they have done the opposite.  Last week The Environmental Audit Committee called for a moratorium on fracking. Their report said extracting shale gas was incompatible with UK carbon targets and could pose environmental health risks.

Labour MP and committee chair, Joan Walley said, “fracking cannot be compatible with long-term commitments to cut climate change emissions.” When in fact the opposite is true, fracking has been credited with reducing American carbon emissions, which legislation set out to do, but could not.

The left is ignoring the US as an example of how to reduce carbon, without harming the economy. Unfortunately they would rather see the UK take up Germany’s failed energy policy: higher energy prices, import more foreign oil & gas –making them the perfect strategic ally for Saudi Arabia.

To make matters worse, Labour forced shadow- ministers to agree 12 new restrictions on shale drilling, which will stifle an industry already heavily regulated from pushing forward.

Without a sound domestic energy supply, Europe will continue relying on Saudi Arabia for oil and gas. But while the right pushes for energy-smart policy decisions to re-balance the alliance, the left is ensuring they retain their strong political influence over Europe.

As fracking is set to be banned in over 40% of England’s shale gas reserves, it’s clear to see why the goals of the left are also in the interest of Saudi Arabia.

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