Center for Strategic Decision Research



Energy and Security

State Secretary Espen Barth Eide
Norwegian Ministry of Defense


The theme I have been asked to address is somewhat different from the avian flu but there are some similarities with that subject: Energy and security clearly belong to the extended security concept and are clearly global, and, as a global challenge, require global responses, so I think they do fit in this section.

It has already been mentioned by several speakers, not the least by SACEUR, that energy security—the relationship between access to energy and energy supply lines and security—is an emerging theme in the NATO context just as it is in several other international contexts. We have seen energy crises before, not only related to scarcity of resources but also due to political overtones. Such crises will happen again, so it is better to be prepared for them in a structured way.


There is an increasing discrepancy between energy supply and demand, one that is becoming a structural problem for all of us. Europe, the U.S., and emerging industrial nations such as India and China are all demanding much more energy than is available, at least as of now, and the international energy agency predicts that without preventive measures, global oil demand will reach 121 million barrels a day by 2030, an increase of more than 40% compared to today’s 85 million barrels a day. In the EU/Europe, dependency on imports for energy supplies is 50% now and is expected to rise at least to 70% by 2030.

We know that much of the oil and gas supplies are coming from a rather geographically concentrated area, the belt that stretches from Iran to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and West Africa in general, and we know there is quite a lot of political turbulence there. So the things we are doing to enhance stability and security in this area for other reasons may in part be contributing to the security of energy supplies.

The energy market of today is characterized by a lack of resilience and robustness and even small disturbances can have immediate effects on global energy prices. This situation makes us very vulnerable to actors who may want to use energy supply as leverage, as General Sedivy mentioned earlier. There is also the prospect of terrorist attacks against energy-critical infrastructure with the intent to destabilize economies at the national or even global level.


These challenges require a broad approach addressing the specific interests both of suppliers and consumers. When we talk about the relationship between energy and security, it is important to underline that this is not security in a classical sense, directed against a defined adversary or defined adversaries. Rather, it is an issue of collective security in which in principle there should be a clear common interest among those supplying, those transporting, and those consuming energy in having a predictable, clear, and well-functioning open international market.

This theme is to be placed on several international agendas in the months to come, one of them being the G8 Summit in Russia. Russia initiated its placement on the agenda and at least some member-states believe it will also emerge as a theme at the NATO summit in Riga. Of course, the IAEA and OPEC and other organizations and the relationships between them remain important in this setting.

From the perspective of the demand side, diversification of energy supplies is increasingly important in order to increase the resilience of the market. As part of diversification, major consumers and industrial economies in the West will inevitably have to put more resources into developing alternative sources of energy. With new transport routes emerging not only for oil and pipeline-based gas supplies but for liquefied natural gas (LNG), which will eventually become an important source of energy, transportation will be increasingly important.

Another important theme, which has been touched upon by several speakers at this conference, is providing surveillance, presence, and protection for ungoverned spaces - not only in “failed states” - but also the sea-lines of communication that need better protection and better surveillance than we have seen so far. While this has been a theme for NATO in the past, I think it will grow over the next 10 years. NATO should provide a forum for discussing the physical protection of energy infrastructure, though this is and should remain a national focus, and assist both members and partners in improving their ability to provide such protection in the interest of all.


Over the course of the workshop we have discussed the emerging importance of Africa and its humanitarian and global security challenges. Because energy importers are looking increasingly toward Africa as a potential area of supply, we, and other international and regional organizations, must now look to the area’s energy dimension.

Another area of growing energy importance is what we in Norway refer to as the High North, which includes the Barents Sea. According to a U.S. geological survey, approximately 25% of the undiscovered petroleum reserves lies in the Arctic—north of Russia, north of Norway, and close to the North Pole. These areas are becoming increasingly accessible because of new technology that makes it possible to extract oil and gas and provide a new source of fossil fuel that we were not even aware of only a few years ago. We believe this area should be developed. We are working closely with Russia and with other international partners to build a regime to exploit these resources, both oil and gas but with an increasing emphasis on gas.

This coming exploitation, however, must combine three equally important dimensions. One is that the development includes the building of transport routes, both pipelines and sea-based routes from the Barents Sea to the main market. The second is that the work is done in an environmentally friendly way, so that the enormous fish and other marine resources we have access to will remain, even after the oil and gas era is over. The third is that all of this takes place within a stable and secure international geopolitical environment, which is quite possible but in no way guaranteed. Right now we in Norway are trying to make our partners, friends, neighbors, and allies more aware of this increasingly important area, not only for our own interest but for all of our interests.

During the Cold War, the area I have been speaking about was an area of strategic military confrontation. Fortunately, it is not that any longer, but it is an emerging crucial focal point in the geopolitics of energy. Just think of this: LNG ships will be sailing out of the region toward the U.S. in a few years. Those ships will more or less use the same sea-lines of communication that we were so eager to protect during the Cold War, albeit in the opposite direction. This illustrates that while security has changed, there are still recurring themes. Predictability, stability, and transparency need to remain key words as we develop a policy for this area and we need to base the policy on a broad set of international cooperation themes.


I believe energy security should remain an important NATO focus because, as was very clearly expressed recently by Chancellor Merkel, by the United States, and by many European partners, we need to broaden the political debate in NATO and to reestablish NATO as a forum for political discussion of themes of mutual interest that have global ramifications, which this subject certainly does. This does not mean that all the solutions will be found in NATO but that it is a subject we believe needs to be discussed and is of great importance. All relevant countries and partners should be invited to the debate to underline that energy security is part of collective security in the 21st-century global environment.

We also need to look into ways in which the Alliance’s capabilities for surveillance, technological cooperation, and military cooperation can be made relevant for this theme. We should also have additional discussions regarding energy security between NATO and the EU. We must ensure that the market forces work and that we enable them to continue to be stable, predictable, and reliable in our common interest.

I believe energy security has come to stay on our agenda.


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