"Oil actually". Chinese and U.S. energy security policies in the Caspian Region
China and the U.S. are both great powers with vast and rapidly increasing consumption of oil. Despite considerable domestic production, this has resulted in a need for imports. Dependence on unstable oil producers outside American or Chinese control is considered by both states as an economic problem, but more importantly as a potential threat to national security. The thesis particularly emphasizes the security aspects of this dependence, in other words questions of energy security, which are viewed as increasingly important by the governments of both countries. This is a case study looking at the policies of China and the U.S., aimed at improving their national energy security, in the Caspian Sea region, which is an emerging (or arguably re-emerging) oil producing region in a global context. A considerable volume of empirical data has been collected in order to gain an overview of these policies, which have then been analyzed in light of categories borrowed from neoliberal and neorealist theories of international relations. A main conclusion of the thesis is that the policies applied to ensure access to the oil resources of the Caspian Sea region vary a great deal and often cannot be satisfactorily explained by traditional theories of international relations. Furthermore, we conclude that aggressive state policies aimed at securing access to oil resources may result in a domino effect as oil becomes scarcer. The findings of this thesis leave the door open for, and will hopefully contribute to, further studies both of energy security policy in general and in the region in particular. The thesis could prove especially useful as a starting point for inter-state or inter-regional comparisons, which may potentially contribute to wider generalizations. Such generalizations were not attempted in this thesis, as case studies do not lend themselves well to such endeavors, although certain more context-specific generalizations were presented.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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