The Morning Line 2: Follow The Oil

by "Shimmy the Geek"

     "If you would understand world geopolitics today, follow the oil."
                           -- Deep Stoat

Shimmy the Geek here, with an analysis of the world's oil deposits, where they are, and where our various "Playahs" are located.  I got all curious about this when the news informed us of our Administration's sudden interest in Liberia.


Anyway, here goes.  It turns out to be quite interesting.

I scanned out portions of a map of the world into ~.jpgs.  Then I hit the Web and marked on these maps where the world's oil deposits are located.
Nothing I found on the Web shows maps themselves-- it seems to be all written descriptions out there.  Various oil industry sites and so forth. So consider my maps to be approximate and probably incomplete-- but there's enough there to really shed a light on things.

Since the maps are large, I didn't want to hassle you with big huge images stuck in your email inbox-- so I had a friend of mine post them on the Web and I link to them here.  Don't ask me to explain the retarded directory name. You can click on the links in this email, which brings the maps up in your browser, and follow along side by side.

First, the Americas .  Not a hellava lot of surprises here.

There are the nearly-legendary Texas/Oklahoma oil deposits, from whose bounty all our oil tycoons got their start.  Also visible are the Louisiana offshore fields, and the ones off the California coast. Oh, not shown, there are also some oil deposits in southern California, north of LA (and some even in the LA basin.)  Thus, the La Brea Tar Pits, and a number of oil-pump farms in the southern Central Valley.  (didn't know about those, didja?). Also explains the infamous Santa Barbara oil spill of some decades back, and why California offshore oil drilling is currently prohibited. ("But-- but-- all that lovely oil!!" sez Joe Tycoon longingly)

Also shown is a large producing area in south-central Canada-- but this is as much (or more so) natural gas as oil, according to my Web sources.  Not shown off to the North-Left are the famously fought-over oilfields of Alaska, including the ANWR.

Moving south, we look at Mexico and Guatemala.  Turns out most of Mexico's oil bounty, and they have got a lot of it, is located in and offshore of the Yucatan Peninsula.  There are deposits in Guatemala too (the little green country) so look for more action regarding Guatemala in the future.  Marked in green near here are the major avenues by which ships bearing oil might travel to and from the United States.  Corpus Christi Texas, as well as New Orleans, Louisiana are major on/off ports.   And, of course, the Panama Canal is a biggy-- everyone wants to go through there, rather than try to sail a big ship around the southern tip of South America, which takes a lot longer and the weather is sucky for boats down there as well. (Really windy and stormy and stuff).  This must be why our government tries to assure that Panama is Our Good Pal... no matter what.

But notice the interesting layout in the north end of South America.
Venezuela has its famous, large oil deposits, and look! right next door to it is Columbia, with some deposits of its own!  And all this time we thought all our government's interest in Columbia had to do with drugs, as they've been telling us.  Is it a coincidence that Columbia's oil deposits seem to be located in the same areas where the rebels hang out?  Ecuador has  some oil too, so look for them to stay in the news at least occasionally.

Moving down south, we see that Argentina, of all places, has oil too.  I don't remember the numbers-- may be their production is not as great as Venez & co.  They're kind of far down there out of the way too.

Movin' on east!  To Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (EMEA) .  This is really where most of the action is at.

As you saw in the Americas, oil deposits are indicated by hazy red area.
Major travel avenues are noted by green lines, and here, the zone of influence of Islam is indicated by a hazy yellow outline.  The "pegs" on the outline point inward, that is, *towards* the muslims.  We'll just kind of work our way down this map from North to South.

Interestingly enough, the Balkans (former Yugoslavia) have some oil.  Don't take the intensity of the red as an indicator of the richness of the deposits, that's my heavy trigger finger on the Paint Shop Pro spray can.  I don't think the Balkans produce as much oil as, say, Saudi Arabia.

Russia (big lavender region) has some big deposits in the West Siberian Plain.  Russia is actually a major world oil producer. They get a little hitch put in their git-up-and-go by the fact that it is, after all, landlocked way the hell back in Siberia.  So the Russians are always looking to build new pipelines and such to get their oil out to ports, Europe, and such.  The Bosporus (look down and to the left of the Russian oilfields) by Turkey is highly important to them for this, and has been highly important to the Russians for centuries in fact.  It's about the only warm-water avenue where they can ship goods in and out to the rest of the world.

Just to the right (east) of the Bosporus is the Caspian Sea and its huge oil fields.  Right on the shore of the Caspian Sea is-- look! Chechnya.  All the bloodshed in that country is now explained.  Russia's other Caspian possessions, Azerbaijan Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, all became independent.  Chechnya is Russia's last foothold on that Caspian Sea oil action-- and bedamned if they're gonna give that up, Muslim insurgents or no Muslim insurgents.  Also watch for Russia to try to keep some heavy influence going on Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan.

Turkey as mentioned earlier controls the Bosporus straits, an important, major trade access route.  Though with no oil of its own, watch for others, especially Russia *and* its rivals, to continue to whisper (or shout) in Turkey's ear.

More access routes are visible through the Mediterranean Sea and out the Straits of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco.  For this reason, Spain has long sought to control or at least influence Morocco and will continue to do so.  Algeria and Libya have some oil deposits along the southern shore, there.  Perhaps the fact that Khaddafi of Libya won't let western oil companies get a piece of that oil action might explain why he's so roundly reviled in the American press.  Interestingly enough, he is also Libya's foremost feminist, too (National Geographic, November 2000).  Hmmm.

Moving east, we see that Egypt has both the Suez Canal and some oil deposits near it.  The Suez Canal serves much the same function as the Panama Canal in the Americas-- it provides a shortened, warm-water route for shipping  to bypass the stormy cape at the southern tip of Africa, when moving between Europe/Northern Africa/Russia, and Asia.  As such, it's hugely important to trade-- more so than Egypt's oil, and everyone takes great effort to ensure that Egypt is Their Pal.  Egypt shut down the Canal for several years in the '70's after Israel took over the Sinai peninsula (the little yellow triangular bit) in the 1967 War.  This was quite traumatic to all the businessmen.

Now notice the layout of things just east (right) of Egypt.  This is where all the interesting stuff is happening.

On the east end of the Mediterranean is Israel, with its warm-water ports and strong military.  Next we have Syria (yellow) and Jordan (orange).  Then comes Iraq, with oil fields in its northern end, and also in its southern end, by Kuwait.  Kuwait and Saudi Arabia share a large oil producing region (Kuwait is in fact located under the big red oil area there).  South of Saudi Arabia is Yemen, with oil of its own.  Then, east of Iraq, is mountainous Iran with not only oil deposits of its own, but-- bonus! south-shore access to those big Caspian Sea deposits we noticed earlier! Then east of Iran is Afghanistan, with no oil of its own, and then Pakistan.

Notice the interesting triple-bracket our Administration has set up in the region.  Israel has always been our ally.  Then we took over Afghanistan. Now we've taken Iraq.  With these three pressure points, most of the oil-producing Arab region is now bracketed in a double-pincer of American forces.  Choice Iran is bracketed in a pincer of its own, as are unruly Syria and Jordan.  Saudi Arabia/Kuwait are accessible by air and by sea from forces based in Israel, Iraq, *and* Afghanistan.  Thus it is in their best interests to stay America's Good Buddies for as long as possible.  The current American administration is also interested in cooperative regimes in the region, which could explain why the fact that 12 of the 9-11 hijackers hailed from Saudi Arabia has conveniently slipped down out of the mainstream media radar.

There are, however, weaknesses in this strategic setup, at least from the American administration's viewpoint.
1) Iran has mountains.  This would make it a bugger to conquer, and especially hold, outright.  Our military already has a couple big handfuls hanging onto Afghanistan and Iraq (which happens to be much flatter).
2) The major ocean routes for transporting the oil out, have constrictions-- potentially unfriendly constrictions.  The Persian Gulf (water area between Iran and Saudi Arabia) narrows to a point where, at the protruding pointy bit, it is only 15 or 20 miles across.  This puts vessels in the water within easy attack range from the Iranian shore, should they choose to do so.  In fact, there have been a number of attacks on American vessels in this area in years past.  Likewise, the Red Sea (between Saudi Arabia and Africa) also becomes narrow right around Yemen.  Somalia (yellow point on the right side of Africa), of "Black Hawk Down" fame, is unfriendly but lawless.  Terrorists could base attacks on Western shipping out of here fairly easily, but it would be disorganized action.

Eritrea and Ethiopia (next to Somalia alongside the Red Sea) don't make a lot of noise about standing up against America. It's easy to see that the prime next targets in this area, from the American Administration's standpoint, are Iran and Somalia in that order. Iran, however, could be the straw that breaks the American camel's back-- at least if it is attacked before Iraq is under control. So look for Iran to try to keep Iraq uncontrollable, clandestinely and otherwise, for as long as it can.

Now we move South-Left from the Arabian peninsula into Africa.  Oh look! there's a big deposit of oil in southern Sudan.  Naturally this is also the region that the northern-Sudan-based fundamentalist Islamic government is trying to "pacify", by massacreing, enslaving, and raping the inhabitants.
As noted on one of my oil websites, the GOS (Government of Sudan) is building an oil pipeline from these southern fields (to the resistance of the locals) up to its port on the Red Sea.  The author of a National Geographic article on Sudan (February 2003) sounded suspiciously like Rodney King ("can't we all get along??") as he wistfully speculated that maybe the money from this oil pipeline would "help to unite the North and South and bring peace to the region."  Fat chance, Pollyanna, that oil money will simply enable the GOS to buy the more modern munitions with which they can finish pulverizing the southerners.  The fact that the southerners are *not* Muslims (note that the Islam border passes right through Sudan), is only icing on the GOS's propaganda cake.

Finally, we move to the western coast of Africa, in the "crook", and start to get an idea why Liberia is important.  Right in the crook of Africa is Nigeria, with its large oil reserves.  Its neighbors to the south, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Angola, also enjoy some offshore and shoreline oil resources.  And there's Liberia, on the bottom corner of the western lobe of Africa (in blue) interestingly enough right on the sailing route between the crook of Africa and the Americas.  Isn't that interesting indeed?  And one wonders if perhaps some oil deposits just got discovered there, that haven't made it onto the Web yet.

Looking at the EMEA map, one thing becomes clear-- oil is the curse of the Muslim world.  Without oil, they could have continued on in their sleepy provincial traditional ways up until this day. (Except, probably, Israel and the Eastern Med would still probably be a sore point.  Israel was planted there for Biblical prophetical, not oleaginous, reasons.  See "A Peace To End All Peace" by David Fromkin for details.)

Finally I am finished with EMEA, and we move on to Asia.

In the north, we see that Russia has big oil fields in eastern Siberia and off Sakhalin.  Although the weather in these places is not so great, it still gives them something of an alternative way to trade oil out to other countries.  This also has to make Japan pretty happy, as they have to import all of their oil.  Now if they and Russia can just settle their longstanding quarrel over those 4 little islands to the north of Hokkaido, they will be best buddies.  Japan can sell/teach high technology to Russia, and Russia can sell them oil in return.  If Russia beefs up their military power on that end of the country, look for exactly that to happen.  A few more American soldiers raping schoolgirls in Okinawa could then tip Japan over to allying with the Russians.  This is a scenario that undoubtedly keeps American administration wonks up late at night-- but it probably wouldn't develop in less than several years.

Moving south we spot the big oil fields of Malaysia (blue) and Indonesia (green), as well as some off the coast of VietNam.  Also clearly visible are the travel routes in, out, and through the region, as well as the Philippines' strategic location next to one of those routes (right on the opposite side of it from Taiwan!)  Notice also the extension of the Islamic sphere in this region (yellow hazy outline).  You can see that the Philippines' Muslim insurgency in the south gives the American administration an oh-so-convenient excuse to come in and "help" the Philippine President with her rebel problem-- and establish a presence and influence to boot.  They were no doubt especially motivated to do this because the American Navy was kicked out of its Philippines Subic Bay base some years ago, for gross corruptive influences such as rampant prostitution.

If the Viet Nam oil fields pan out to be big, look for the American government to suddenly, magically declare that "all is forgiven" and lift sanctions-- if only the VN government will let the American oil companies "help" them develop them.  This development might not happen for a couple of years.

That's pretty much it.

Until next time, Ciao.

Shimmy The Geek
July 2003

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