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Saudi Arabia’s Oil Weapon, But for How Long?


Resistance by bankers, investors, and politicians to writing-off an estimated $20 trillion in fossil fuel assets will cause the greening of the environment to evolve in two stages. The first stage is being driven by a rapidly growing consumer preference for the electric vehicle. By 2030/2040, as Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world abandon the sale of petrol cars, most global demand for oil will disppear. When that happens, Saudi cash will dwindle, US protection of Riyadh will disappear, Wahhabi terror will diminish, and democracy could have a chance to grow in Arab lands. When that happens, renewable energy will have contributed to fighting terror more than armies and air forces. The second stage, a century later, will abandon coal and natural gas and with it environmental degradation.
This article is sourced mainly from Chapter Five of my book, "Oil and God. Sustainable Energy Will Defeat Wahhabi Terror"

Governments, investors, lenders, and workers in oil, gas, coal, car, and fossil fuel using power plants stand in the way of sustainable energy. They have been leading a fierce and effective crusade to discredit climate science and the scientists who attribute global warming to human expansion of the greenhouse effect. They have been lobbying politicians, especially in the US, to delay and water down, even repeal environmental protection laws, while propagating an image of themselves as being green and committed to renewable energy.


ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change – seven years before it became a public issue. However, the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial.[1] In Europe, topping the list of firms obstructing climate action is British Petroleum,[2] notwithstanding the very green logo, which it designed in 2000 to propagate a positive environmental image.[3] BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Total “spend nearly $200 million a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.”[4]


Despite environmentalists’ campaigns against the use of fossil fuel and the successes in developing sustainable electricity generation from solar and wind technologies, global demand for oil between 1973 and 2017 increased by 75 percent, from 56 million barrels per day to 98 million barrels per day.[5] Between 1973 and 2012, the transport sector’s consumption of oil increased by 42 percent, from 45 percent to 64 percent.[6] In 2016, the transport sector consumed 64 percent of the global demand for oil. Other oil uses were in petrochemicals (15%), residential, commercial, and agriculture (10%), various (11%).”[7]


Washington’s Politics of Oil

In a world addicted to crude oil, energy hegemony means world hegemony. As long as global demand for oil by America’s rivals (China, continental Europe, India, and Japan) is strong, the US will protect the al-Saud regime despite its corrupt non-representative dictatorship, dark record of human rights abuses, radicalizing Islam, polarizing Muslims, and proselytizing hate-of-the-other culture. As long as global demand for oil by America's rivals is strong, Washington will protect the al-Saud regime despite its dictatorial rule, human rights abuses, and gender inequality--controlling one absolute king who owes his throne and life to US protection is far simpler and more effective than managing scores of parliamentarians and political leaders in a democratic setting.


In return for US protection, the six Saudi kings and their father, King Abdulaziz, maintained an obsequious relationship with the thirteen US presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt. The kings followed Washington’s advice/instructions on oil export volumes and pricing politics.


Influence/control over Saudi oil is important, not because the United States needs to import Saudi oil,[8] but because Saudi Arabia, as the world’s biggest oil exporter and swing producer, is capable of decreasing or increasing the volume of its oil exports at anytime in order to drive oil prices up or down.[9] President Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden on January 4, 2019, “four months ago, oil hit $83 a barrel ... after I made some phone calls to OPEC and the OPEC nations.... all of a sudden, it started coming down.”[10] Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s de-facto decider.[11] He repeated the same line on April 26, 2019, tweeting: “Spoke to Saudi Arabia and others about increasing oil flow.”[12] Oil prices tumbled on April 26, 2019, by as much as 4%.[13]

Additionally, in case of a confrontation with America’s oil importing rivals, particularly China, US control over Saudi/GCC oil becomes a non-lethal weapon of mass destruction. It determines the volume and direction of global oil exports. Mr. Trump stressed during a visit to NATO on July 11, 2018, that a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany has made Germany “totally controlled” by and “captive to Russia.”[14] Putting his words into practice on April 22, 2019, President Trump threatened China, and seven other countries,[15] with sanctions if they do not cease oil imports from Iran.[16] A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson responded: "China opposes the ... so-called 'long-arm jurisdictions' imposed by the US.”[17]


Washington has protected the al-Saud regime faithfully for the past seventy years. As global demand for oil increased from 10 million bbl./day in 1950 to 75 million bbl./day in 2000, US protection of Saudi Arabia intensified as well. Not even when 15 of the 19 Wahhabi terrorists who flew passenger planes on 9/11 into buildings in New York City and Washington D.C. turned out to be Saudi nationals, killing over 3,000 people, would the Bush administration retaliate against Riyadh.[18]  Instead, Iraq was sacrificed on the altar of Saudi oil. It was invaded in March 2003, occupied, and much of it demolished, only for Tehran to dominate Iraq’s Shi’ite South and the Baghdad government. The G.W. Bush project in Iraq gave birth of the Shi’ite Crescent
President Obama empowered Iran further. On December 18, 2011, he withdrew US forces from Iraq prematurely.[19] So, Tehran filled the gap left by US troops. He midwifed the delivery of the nuclear agreement, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which allowed Iran to export of oil and access to $100 billion in frozen assets in return for a delay of 15 years in Iran’s nuclear program.[20] Above all, Obama handed Syria to Iran.


The empowerment of Iran led to brutal proxy sectarian wars between Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. In addition to keeping Muslims busy killing each other in the Middle East, these wars have forced Saudi and other Arab Sunni states to buy American arms by the ton and seek alliance with Israel. With such gains, President Trump has no incentive to change the playbook he inherited from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Manifesting US Protection of Saudi Arabia         

The US has been protecting the al-Saud kings since oil was discovered in big quantities. US protection is manifested in four ways: 
1.  American technicians, engineers, and spare parts sent to keep operational the hundreds of billions of dollars in sophisticated US weapons sold to the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation and the National Guard over the past forty years. Weapon purchases are a form of protection money Saudi Kings pay.  On a campaign rally in Wisconsin on April 2, 2016, Candidate Trump said, “We take care of Saudi Arabia. Now nobody’s going to mess with Saudi Arabia because we’re watching them.”[21] On April 27, 2017, in an interview with Reuters, President Trump said, “we are losing a tremendous amount of money in defending Saudi Arabia.”[22] On April 24, 2018, Mr. Trump, addressing Saudi Arabia and the rest of GCC member states during a White House press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, said: “Countries that are in the area ... would not be there except for the United States ... They wouldn't last a week. We are protecting them.”[23] To loud cheers at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018, Mr. Trump disclosed that he warned King Salman: “You might not be there for two weeks without us."[24] South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump supporter, said on December 9, 2018 that, “if it weren’t for the United States they’d be speaking Farsi in about a week in Saudi Arabia.”[25]


2. Until 2003, the US maintained a large air force presence at the Prince Sultan air base outside Riyadh. In a cosmetic move, it relocated to the nearby al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The move was intended to “purify” the land of the two holy mosques from the military presence of “infidels” to calm bin Laden’s followers. Al-Udeid is a few minutes flying time away from Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province where the world’s richest oil fields are located. With around 10,000 US troops, al-Udeid Air Base is the largest US base in the Middle East.[26]


Additionally, Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet, hosting approximately 7,000 Navy personnel.[27] Its Khalifa bin Salman deep-water port can accommodate aircraft carriers.[28] Out of Sheikh Isa Air Base, the US Air Force operates F-16s, F-18s, and P-3 surveillance aircraft.[29] In Kuwait, the US has 15,000 troops in two air force bases[30] and seven camps scattered in  this small country. [31 In the UAE, there are about 3,500 US military personnel stationed at Dhafra, and it is the only overseas base with F-22s.[32]
US forces in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE protect not only the oil installations and the regimes of the four tiny states, but, of course, the world’s richest oil fields in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and the al-Saud regime. Further, these forces ensure the uninterrupted shipping of around 17 million barrels of oil per day through the narrow Strait of Hormuz. And, in case of war, the US armada will be able to control oil exports from Iran and Iraq as well, raising America’s control over Middle Eastern oil to around one half of world oil exports.


3. While all other countries maintain a single diplomatic presence in Riyadh, the US has always maintained large diplomatic presence in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dhahran. With eyes and ears to the ground, American diplomats must have heard for years, anti-democracy preaching, hate-the-other teaching, and jihad glorification from blaring mosque loudspeakers and from radio and television.  


4. US protection of the al-Sauds is also aided by various former senior Washington administration officials, captains of industry, media moguls, and professional lobbyists who act for the Saudi government, ruling family members, and private sector in return for hefty fees as lawyers, advisors, consultants, investment managers, business partners, etc. Politico reported that the Center for International Policy “found that registered foreign agents working on behalf of Saudi interests contacted Congress, the White House, the press and think tank analysts more than 2,500 times in 2017.”[33] The London Independent newspaper on March 12, 2016 stated that, “Arab oil states spread their power by many means in addition to religious proselytism, including the simple purchase of people and institutions which they see as influential. Academic institutions of previously high repute in Washington have shown themselves to be as shamelessly greedy for subsidies from the Gulf and elsewhere as predatory warlords and corrupt leaders in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and beyond.”[34] In the interview Mr. Obama gave for the April 2016 issue of the Atlantic magazine, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote how an administration official describes Arab lobbying activities in Washington D.C. and how the media spreads views from “experts” on the pay of lobbyists: “One administration official refers to Massachusetts Avenue, the home of many think tanks, as ‘Arab-occupied territory.’ Television and newspapers happily quote supposed experts from such think tanks as if they were non-partisan academics of unblemished objectivity.”[35]


Notwithstanding that Saudi Arabia was designated by the US State Department since 2004 as a Country of Particular Concern for its severe violations of religious freedoms, the US Secretary of State has waived the sanction that comes with such designation due to the important national interest of the US:

Since 2004, Saudi Arabia has been designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom. Most recently, on February 29, 2016, the Secretary of State re-designated Saudi Arabia as a CPC, and announced a waiver of the sanction that accompany designation as required in the important national interest of the United States pursuant to section 407 of the Act.[36]


The Transition from Fossil Fuel to Green Energy

British Petroleum estimated in 2014 that “the earth has enough oil left for about 53 more years at current production levels,” but “significantly more than 53 years of oil remaining if drilling technologies can improve to the point that recovering the more difficult to reach oil becomes economically feasible.”[37]


However, future demand for oil is not only a function of its physical availability, it is also a function of the speed by which the combustion engine is driven out of use. The green energy revolution will evolve in two stages.


The First Stage

Here, most of oil imports by major US rivals would end. Independence from US-controlled oil must rank high on the national security priorities of big oil-importing rivals of the US. When Saudi oil exports collapse, the al-Sauds’ oil revenues will dwindle, Washington’s protection will disappear, Wahhabi indoctrination and proselytization will falter, and terror will be dealt a severe blow. It is only then that the war against Wahhabi terror will be won. The countries leading the renewable energy revolution will add a greater contribution to world peace than all the raids on terrorists’ hideouts by the world’s armies and air forces.


Which Country Will Lead the Drive Towards Electric Cars?

China will lead the world in the drive towards electric cars. Beijing is Washington’s main geo-political rival. The two are locked in heated competition for global control over the import and exports of raw material and finished products.


China’s entire oil imports are burned in the transport sector. Eliminating the internal combustion engine would free China from US-controlled oil imports.[38] It will enhance China’s economic and military security. In 2007, according to International Energy Agency statistics (IEA), out of a total oil demand of 7.609 million bbl./day, China imported 3.873 million bbl./day (the rest was produced domestically). Significantly, the volume of oil imports that year was almost identical to the 3.844 million bbl./day, which China used to fuel its transportation fleet,[39] around 59 million vehicles.[40]


In 2009, according to IEA, out of a total oil demand of 8.046 million bbl./day, China imported 4.246 million bbl./day (the rest was produced domestically). The volume of the imported oil that year was, again, almost identical to the 4.254 million bbl./day, which was used to fuel China’s transportation vehicles[41] of around 76 million vehicles in 2009.[42]


In 2017, according to US Energy Information Administration (EIA), out of a total demand of 13.2 million bbl./day, China imported 8.4 million bbl./day;[43] around double the 2009 level (the rest was produced domestically). The number of vehicles in China in 2017 was 217 million, or 285 percent the 2009 level.[44] In the absence of sectorial oil consumption data for 2017, it is reasonable to assume that the degree of correlation in 2007 and 2009 between Chinese oil imports and vehicle consumption of oil had also prevailed in 2017. The disproportionate increase between 2009 and 2017 in oil imports (200 percent) and the number of vehicles (285 percent) may be attributed to the fact that post-2009, the internal combustion engine became more fuel efficient than earlier models.[45]

To stimulate demand for the electric vehicle, the Chinese government began a subsidies program in 2010, with government entities required to buy only electric.[46] From a modest beginning in 2014, China accounted in 2016, for more than 40 percent of the 753,000 electric vehicles sold worldwide.[47] In 2017, China sold 777,000 electric vehicles.[48] In 2018 the number jumped to 1.3 million,[49] representing 62 percent of the 2.1 million in global electric car sales in that year.[50] In 2018, China sold 23.71 million passenger cars and 4.37 million commercial vehicles.[51] 


Morgan Stanley Research forecasts that China will increase the sale of electric vehicles from 1.7 million units in 2020 to 4.3 million units in 2025, to 9.4 million units in 2030, to 17.3 million units in 2035, to 25.1 million units in 2040, and to 31.4 million units in 2045.[52]
China plans to build 800,000 charging points, including 100,000 in 2017.[53] It will build by 2020 a nationwide charging-station network to power 5 million electric vehicles along 14,000 kilometers of highways with an average spacing of 48.6 kilometers.[54] In Beijing and Shanghai, a charging facility can already be found within a radius of less than 5 kilometers.[55] 
China’s Deputy Industry Minister stated in September 2017, that the ministry has begun "research on formulating a timetable to stop production and sales of traditional energy vehicles."[56]
China “already produces nearly two-thirds of the world’s lithium-ion batteries ... and controls most of the world’s lithium processing facilities.”[57] Bain Consulting has “predicted that penetration of battery-powered vehicles will reach 18 percent in 2025, and likely top 70 percent by 2040.”[58]
As the transformation evolves, China’s oil imports will progressively decline until they disappear. This assumes that China’s domestic oil production would be sufficient to meetthe country’s non-transportation demand. China was a net exporter of oil in 1990 (452,400 bbl./day) and that in 1995, it became a net importer (280,600 bbl./day).[59] 
China generates all of its electricity needs from non-oil sources (coal, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar). China has the world’s most hydropower capacity.[60] It is the world’s leader in wind[61] and solar[62] energy generation. Coal, with 72% (in 2015), however, remains China’s largest source of electricity generation.[63] The New York Times reported in 2017 that Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 of the 1,600 new coal plants at home and around the world.[64]


When Are America’s Oil Importing Competitors Likely to Electrify their Transportation Fleets?

America’s oil importing competitors are likely to electrify their transportation fleets between 2030 and 2040. In Norway all new passenger cars and vans sold after 2025 should be zero-emission vehicles.[65] India plans by 2030 to sell only electric cars.[66]  Similarly, by 2030, Germany,[67] Denmark,[68] and Holland[69] will sell only non-petrol motor-vehicles. France will follow suit by 2040.[70] The UK will end combustion engine sales by 2040.[71] Japan had in 2016 more electric car charge points than petrol stations.[72]
A Bank of America study in October 2017, expected electric vehicles to “reach a global share of 34 per cent in 2030 and 90 per cent in 2050.”[73] An International Monetary Fund working paper dated May 22, 2017, suggests that "oil as the main fuel for transportation could have a much shorter life span left than commonly assumed. In the fast adoption scenario, oil prices could converge to the level of coal prices, about $15 per barrel in 2015 prices by the early 2040s."

The Transformation of Energy Geopolitics from Oil to Lithium

The US Geographical Survey (USGS) stated in its Mineral Commodity Summaries of 2018 that:
  Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in the United States and Asia ... to ensure a reliable, diversified supply of lithium for battery suppliers and vehicle manufacturers.”[74]
Most lithium reserves are in Chile (7.5 million tons), China (3.2 million tons), Australia (2,700 million tons), and Argentina (2 million tons), with a very modest reserves in the US of 35,000 tons.[75]
In 2017, the world’s top lithium producers were: Australia (18,700 tons), Chile (14,100 tons), China (3,000 tons), Argentina (5,500 tons).[76]
What Saudi Arabia is for oil, Chile is for lithium. It may be predicted that Chile will take the place of Saudi Arabia as Washington’s centre piece in energy geopolitical strategy.


The Second Stage

Greening the environment requires abandoning not only oil (3 percent of global electricity generation in 2015);[77] but, also, coal (39 percent of global electricity generation in 2015),[78] and natural gas (24 percent of global electricity generation in 2014).[79]
Multiple decades will elapse before renewable energy is allowed to replace coal and natural gas. Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, said on October 24, 2017, “Energy demand is expected to rise by about 45 percent by the year 2050... [renewables] will only account for about 10 percent of the primary energy demand, and this is despite a very rapid growth rate ... Petroleum, natural gas, and coal will continue to account for about 75 percent of the supply of energy by 2050.[80}

President Trump’s Assault on Environmental Regulations

President Trump rolled back 23 environmental rules in his first 100 days in office.[81] While relieving companies from environmental protection regulations increases corporate profits and stock values, it ignores accounting for the cost of preserving America’s environmental capital. For example, revoking the rule that prevents coal mining companies from dumping debris into local streams (February 16, 2017), or ending the ban on a potentially harmful insecticide (March 29, 2017) will burden future generations with cleaning the polluted river or reclaiming the contaminated soil left.[82]


The Trump administration issued its notification that the US intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement on August 4, 2017.[83]America is the only country in the world outside the Paris landmark agreement, while 197 countries are in support of the Agreement.[84] Measures adopted on December 15, 2018, by the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, attended by 196 countries to make the Paris climate pact operational in 2020, were objected to by Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.[85]


In the middle of 2017, the US Interior Secretary directed the Bureau of Land Management to ramp up sales of oil and gas leases on federal land in order to increase oil production on federal lands.[86] In a sign of what’s to come, “Trump Digs Coal” placards are a common sight in Trump’s rallies in America’s coal states. On a visit to West Virginia on August 21, 2018, Mr. Trump declared: "We love clean beautiful, West Virginia coal ... That's indestructible stuff ... In times of war, in times of conflict, you can blow up those windmills, ... You can blow up those pipelines ... You can do a lot of things to those solar panels ... But you know what you can't hurt? Coal."[87] Speaking at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner on April 2, 2019, Mr. Trump went as far as declaring that “wind farms cause cancer.”[88] In an interview on October 15, 2018, with CBS's program 60 Minutes, he accused climate change scientists of having a "political agenda."[89] He doubted whether humans were responsible for earth’s rising temperatures, adding that temperatures "could very well go back," and that he does not want “to give trillions and trillions of dollars” and “lose millions and millions of jobs.”[90] Mr. Trump is dismissive of climate change science, oblivious to the potential trillions and trillions in export revenues, and the millions of jobs the new technologies would provide. To stand in the way of human progress is futile. Had it not been for the motor car and the light bulb, we would still be riding horses and using the kerosene lamp.


Resistance to Writing-off Trillions of Dollars

Standing in the way of the growth of renewable energy is investors’ opposition to writing-off trillions of dollars on the balance sheets of the oil, gas, and coal-burning power plants, and the myriad of supporting industries.


Oil Companies’ Write-offs

Bank balance sheets provide a good estimate of the magnitude of oil companies’ write-offs. Excluding short-term loans, investor owned oil industry, according to the Bank for International Settlements, had bonds outstanding in 2014 in the amount of $1.4 trillion and $1.6 trillion in syndicated loans, excluding account repayments or loans that were never drawn.[91] Both numbers are likely to have increased since 2014, in part due to the boom in shale oil and gas extraction in the US.[92]


As for equities, the world’s top ten oil and gas companies are estimated to have had a combined equity of $2 trillion in 2015,[93] making the aggregate financial exposure by banks and investors to the oil and gas publically owned companies, $5 trillion.


Additionally, it is necessary to add the write-offs of the hundreds of medium and small size investor owned oil and gas companies, and the independent oilfield and drilling service companies, pipeline companies, crude oil and product tankers and fuel delivery trucking companies, refining companies, and owners of the estimated 600,000 gasoline stations worldwide.[94] When these are accounted for, the total would likely more than double.
To put the figure of $10 trillion in perspective, if the write-off period is 20 years, the annual write-off amount would be $500 billion. If the period is 100 years, the annual write-off would still be a massive $100 billion.

Moreover, abandoning government owned oil and gas operations in, among others, OPEC states could cost trillions of dollars more. This may explain Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Russia’s rejection of measures adopted on December 15, 2018, by the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland.


Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Companies’ Write-offs

Notwithstanding opposition to green energy by bankers, investors, and governments, consumers’ preference for the electric car will render the combustion engine obsolete. The shift is expected between 2030 and 2040.


It may be guesstimated that the cost of writing-off partially depreciated car factories could reach a trillion dollars.[95] The guesstimate may double as the suppliers of engine parts, robotic assembly lines, and repair garages shift from manufacturing and repairing petrol engines to making and repairing batteries and electric engines.
In addition to writing-off investments in the oil and auto industries, the cost of building several million electricity charging points to replace petrol stations' pumps should be accounted for.

Fossil Fuel Power Plants, Coal Mines, and Natural Gas Fields Write-offs

Fossil fuel power plants generated two-thirds of world’s electricity. De-commissioning power plants will evolve very slowly over a century, possibly longer, for the following reasons:

·     The size of the write-offs will be enormous, if the plants are abandoned before the end of their useful life. Coal and gas power plants are typically depreciated over fifty years or so.

·     While wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers have achieved impressive growth during the past thirty years, huge additional renewable energy capacity is still needed.[96] In 2017, there were 1,600 coal plants under construction or in the planning stage.[97] The new plants could still be operational by around 2069, or longer.

·     De-commissioning fossil fuel power plants will result in the abandonment of investments in coal mines and natural gas fields before their full depletion. Aditionally, investments in railroad cars, barges, ships, and liquefied natural gas pipelines and tankers.will be abandoned

The Aggregate Cost

When the cost of job losses and re-training of millions of workers in the affected industries are added to the cost of abandoning the undepreciated oil, gas, coal, and associated industries’ assets, the total could reach $20 trillion, may be more, much more.
In the UK alone, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero could cost £1 trillion, according to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. [98]   President Trump claimed in a speech at a rally in El Paso, Texas on February 13, 2019, that the Green New Deal to transition to 100% green energy in the US, propsed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey on Frbruary 7, 2019, could cost $100 trillion.
The Gargantuan Cost of Inaction
Since 1950, global demand for oil increased from 10 million bbl./day in 1950, to 55 million bbl./day in 1975, 75 million bbl./day in 2000, and 100 million bbl./day in 2018. Even if the probability of human responsibility for global warming is infinitesimally small, the catastrophic cost of inaction must compel the transition to renewable energy. Global warming causes illnesses from polluted air and oceans, higher death rates from more frequent harsher weather, damage to property and infrastructure, rising sea levels, drowning of coastal cities, loss of agricultural land, mass migration and security threats, lower productivity and GDP growth. Productivity loss alone is estimated to be £1.5 trillion per annum.[99]
Had politicians, investors, executives, and lobbyists in the oil, auto, and banking industries in the United States and the rest of the developed world started promoting the electric car fifty years ago, following the oil embargo in 1973, for example, the size of the asset write-offs today would be a fraction of the trillions of dollars that must be written off betwee 2030 and 2040 and beyond. Had the demand for petrol cars not skyrocketed since 1973, greening the environment could have been achieved. Had oil not been a factor following the terror attacks of 9/11, the occupation of Iraq by the G.W. Bush administration and the empowerment of Iran and the Shi'ite/Sunni wars that killed and injured millions and devastated Iraq and Syria might not have happened.
To put the price of saving the environment in perspective, however, the cost of saving bankrupt banks and companies in the US alone, in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, exceeded $22 trillion.[100]  Indeed, saving the environment must be far more important than saving bankrupt banks.
Preparing for the Looming Write-offs

The Bank of England has taken the lead in dealing with the financial challenge of the transition to green energy. It released on October 15, 2018, a policy proposal document requiring British banks and insurance companies to develop credible plans for an orderly market transition to a low-carbon world, including possibly holding more capital.[101]

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) said in a statement on March 20, 2019 that, “it expects lenders and insurers to include climate as one of the material risks they manage to ensure they meet obligations to depositors and policy holders. These risks are material, foreseeable and actionable now,” the statement continued.[102]

The Government of Norway proposed on March 8, 2019, “to exclude companies classified as exploration and production companies within the energy sector from the Government Pension Fund Global.”[103] Norway’s Minister of Finance said: “The Fund should be able to participate in the growth renewable energy.”[104]

The Shape of a Post-Oil Middle East - The Economic Effect
Within twenty to thirty years, between 2030/2040, possibly 2050, the sale of petrol vehicles in most of Asia, Europe and other parts of the world will have stopped. When this happens, two thirds of the global demand for oil will disappear and GCC oil exports will be reduced to a trickle.
As GCC oil revenues vanish, the transformation from economies dependent mainly on oil revenues to non-oil based existence will bring catastrophe. Gross domestic product will collapse to a fraction of the golden oil-export days. The great majority of the 15 million expatriate workers, representing half of the aggregate population in GCC cities and towns, would return to their countries of origin. They will leave behind over-built cities during the previous fifty boom years to accommodate as many, if not more, expatriate workers in cities like Riyadh and Dhahran than Saudi nationals and, in the likes of Doha, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10 times as many foreign workers as Qatari or Emarati nationals. The departing workers will leave behind ghost towns, complete with over-capacity airports, harbors, telecommunication systems, road networks, schools, hospitals, and water and public utility facilities, etc. Suffering from lack of funds and technicians for proper maintenance in the blazing sun of the Arabian desert, the infrastructure would irreprably deteriorate. Millions of empty dwellings mean massive losses in real estate values. Desertification would ultimately restore to the desert its pre-oil millennia-old condition.

The Shape of a Post-Oil Middle East - The Political Effect

The political transformation would be even more serious. Without the oil weapon, Washington would abandon the Arabian Peninsula. Without US protection, the oil royals will be left on their own to face hostile and far more powerful neighbours, especially Iran and Turkey. With their far bigger populations, greater diversified economies, and stronger militaries, the US and its allies would befriend Iran and Turkey and ignore the Arabian Peninsula.
There would be four powers vying for influence in a post-oil Middle East: Sunni Turkey, a block of Sunni Arab states, Jewish Israel, and a block of Shi’ites in Iran plus certain Arab states and communities. There can be as many alliance scenarios as the mind can conjure. With help from its Western protectors, Israel’s security will determine the politics and shape of the post-oil map. Sunnis and Shi’ites would remain in an almost constant state of war. Arab Sunni states would support co-religionist Sunni Turkey against the block of Shi’ite Persians and Arabs. Alliances could also be struck along ethnic lines. Arabs and Persians have had a long history of wars before and after Islam. Turks and Persians fought each other when both were Sunnis as well as after Persia was converted to Shi’ism by Shah Ismail (1501-1524). These wars would eventually cost GCC states the monetary reserves of the golden years.
The shape of a post-oil Middle East deserves a dedicated book.

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[1] Suzanne Goldenberg, “Exxon Knew of Climate Change in 1981, Email Says – But It Funded Deniers for 27 More Years,” The Guardian, (July 8, 2015).

[2] “BP tops the list of firms obstructing climate action in Europe,” The Guardian, (September 21, 2015).


[3] “BP goes green,” BBC, (July 24, 2000).


[4] “Top oil firms spending millions lobbying to block climate change policies, says report,” The Guardian, (March 22, 2019).


[5] YCHARTS, “World Oil Consumption Historical Data.”


[6] “Breakdown of oil consumption by sector,” GlobslPetrolPrices.com, (October 7, 2015).


[7] Distribution of oil demand worldwide in 2016 by sector,” Statista.


[8] US annual oil imports from Saudi Arabia between 1993 and 2018 were around 15% of total US oil imports.

US Energy Information Administration (eia), (December 31, 2018).


[9] 7.62 million bbl./day, around 20% of world oil exports,

Index Mundi, Oil - exports > TOP 20.

[10] “Trump Credits His 'Talent' for Gas Price Drop, Suggests OPEC Monopoly,” Newsmax Finance, (January 4, 2019).


[11] OPEC’s other members are: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo.

[12] Tim DiChristopher, “US crude plunges 2.9%, settling at $63.30, after Trump says he told OPEC to tame fuel costs,” CNBC, (April 26, 2019).


[13] Ibid.

[14] Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin, “In Testy Exchange, Trump Hits Germany for Being 'Captive' to Russia,” RealClearPolitics, (July 11, 2018).


[15] Japan, Greece, India, Italy, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey.

[16] Rishi Iyengar, “China buys a lot of Iranian oil, and it's not happy at all with US sanctions,” CNN, (April 22, 2019).


[17] Ibid.

[18] Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, “How much did the September 11 terrorist attack cost America?” 2003-2004.


[19] “Last US troops leave Iraq, ending war,”Reuters, (December 18, 2011).


[20] “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details,” BBC, (January 16, 2016).


[21] Steve Holland, “Donald Trump Calls NATO ‘Obsolete’,” Huffpost, (April 2, 2016).


[22] Stephen J. Adler, Jeff Mason, Steve Holland, “Exclusive: Trump complains Saudis not paying fair share for U.S. defense,” Reuters, (April 28, 2017).


[23] Steven Nelson, “Trump: 'Immensely wealthy' Arab countries 'wouldn't last a week' without US support,” Washington Examiner, (April 24, 2018).


[24] “Trump says he told Saudi's King Salman that the ruler wouldn't last without US support,” CNBC, (October 2, 2018).


[25] Gregg Re, “Graham: Saudis would ‘be ‘speaking Farsi in about a week’ without US support against Iran,” Fox News, (December 9, 2018).


[26] GlobalSecurity.Org, “Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar”.


[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] The Heritage Foundation, “2015 Index of US Military Strength, Assessing the Global Operating Environment, Middle East.”


[31] Military Bases.com. “Kuwait.”


[32] Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “In the UAE, the United States Has a Quiet, Potent Ally Nicknamed ‘Little Sparta,’” The Washington Post, (November 9, 2014).


[33] Theodoric Meyer, Lorraine Woellert, and Marianne Levine, “Diplomatic crisis spotlights Saudi Arabia’s spending in Washington,” Politico, (October 18, 2018).


[34] Patrick Cockburn, “How Barack Obama turned his back on Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies,” The Independent, (March 12, 2016).


[35] Goldberg, “The Obama Doctrine,” The Atlantic, (April 2016 Issue).


[36] US Department of State, “International Religious Freedom Report for 2015, Saudi Arabia.”

[37] Ryan McQueeney, “How Much Oil Is Left,” Zacks, (December 27, 2017).


[38] Alanna Petroff, “These countries want to ban gas and diesel cars,” CNN, (September 11, 2017).


[39] “Oil and Gas Security, Emergency Response of IEA Countries, People’s Republic of China,” International Energy Agency (IEA), (2012).


[40] Vehicle population in China from 2007 to 2017, Statista.


[41] “Oil and Gas Security, Emergency Response of IEA Countries, People’s Republic of China,” International Energy Agency (IEA), (2012).

[42] “China’s Auto Fleet Expands to 154 Million Vehicles,” ChinaAutoWeb.


[43] “China Surpassed the United States as the World’s Largest Oil Importer in 2017,” US Energy Information Administration (EIA), (February 5, 2018).


[44] Vehicle population in China from 2007 to 2017 (in millions), Statista.

[45] The disproportionate change in the number of vehicles and oil demand is due primarily to the combustion engine’s improved efficiency. Global demand for oil between 1973 and 2017 increased by 75% (from 56 million bbl./day to 98 million bbl./day). Between 1976 and 2016, the estimated number of vehicles in the world almost quadrupled (from around 342 million to around 1.32 billion):

Andrew Chesterton, “How many cars are there in the world?,” CarsGuide, (August 6, 2018).


[46] Evelyn Cheng, “China's multibillion-dollar electric car companies are heading for a make-or-break moment,” CNBC, (December 17, 2018).


[47] Sherisse Pham, “China wants to ban gas and diesel cars,” CNN, (September 11, 2017).


[48] g, and you have a lot of money!,"..  2019, prices down.  titution, balance to Fitchburg the French Mandate.te.           lgeria,Mark Kane, “777,000 Plug-In Electric Vehicles Were Sold in China in 2017, Including 600,000 Cars,” INSIDEEVs.com, (February 13, 2018).


[49] David Reid, “China’s electric vehicle sales will continue boom despite subsidy cuts, Fitch says,” CNBC, (April 8, 2019).


[50] Roland Irle, “Global EV Sales for 2018 – Final Results,” EV-volumes.com.


[51] “Passenger and commercial vehicle sales in China from 2009 to February 2019,” Statista.


[52] Evelyn Cheng, “China’s auto sales slide may be obscuring a demand shift in the industry’s largest market,” CNBC, (April 18, 2019).


[53] “China to build more charging points for electric vehicles,” Chinadaily, (February 10, 2017).


[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Bred Jones, “China is Working on a Timetable to Ban the Production and Sale of Non-Electric Cars,” Futurism, (September 11, 2017).


[57] Ernest Scheyder, “United States sets sights on China in new electric vehicle push,” Reuters, (April 5, 2019).


[58] Evelyn Cheng, “China's multibillion-dollar electric car companies are heading for a make-or-break moment,” CNBC, (December 17, 2018).

[59] “Oil and Gas Security, Emergency Response of IEA Countries, People’s Republic of China,”

urthermorehe Middle Easti and other Arab Sunni states buy American arms by the ton. en 2030 and 20140ndonment of natural gas n International Energy Agency (IEA), (2012).

[60] Hydropower Status Report, Sector Trends and Insight, International Hydropower Association, (2018).


[61] Alex Pashley, “China overtakes EU to become global wind power leader,” The Guardian, (February 11, 2016).


[62] Feifei Shen, “China Outstrips Germany in Solar Capacity After Record Additions,” Renewable Energy World, (February 8, 2016).


[63] Chinese coal-fired electricity generation expected to flatten as mix shifts to renewables,” US Energy Information Administration (eia), (September 27, 2017).


[64] Hiroko Tabuchi, “As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants,” The New York Times, (July 1, 2017).


[65] Alanna Petroff, “These countries want to ditch gas and diesel cars,” CNN, (July 26, 2017).


[66] Jackie Wattles, “India to sell only electric cars by 2030,” CNN, (June 3, 2017).


[67] Oscar Willims, “German Lawmakers Vote To Ban Petrol And Diesel Cars By 2030,” Huffington Post, (October 13, 2016).


[68] “Stop selling new petrol and diesel-fuelled cars by 2030: Danish government,” The Local DK, (October 4, 2018).


[69] Fred Lambert, “The Dutch government confirms plan to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030,”

Electrek, (October 10, 2017).


[70] “France to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040,” The Guardian, (July 6, 2017).


[71] Anushka Athsana and Matthew Taylor, “Britain to ban sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040,” The Guardian, (July 25, 2017).


[72] Justin McCurry, “Japan now has more electric car charge points than petrol stations,” The Guardian, (May 10, 2016).


[73] Josh Ye, “China to account for half of global electric vehicle sales until 2030,” South China Morning Post, (October 17, 2017).


[74] “Mineral Commodity Summaries,” U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geographical Survey, (January 31, 2018), PP. 98-99.


[75] Ibid. g, and you have a lot of money!,"..  2019, prices down.  titution, balance to Fitchburg the French Mandate.te.           lgeria,

[76] Ibid.

[77] “Electricity production from oil sources in 2015 (% of total),” World Bank Group.


[78] “Electricity production from coal sources in 2015 (% of total),” World Bank Group.


[79] “Electricity production from oil, gas, and coal resources sources in 2014 (% of total),” World Bank Group.


[80] Anmar Frangoul, “Saudi Minister Says Global Energy Demand Expected to Jump 45% by 2050,” CNBC, (October 25, 2017).


[81] Nadja Popovich and Tatiana Schlossberg, “23 Environmental Rules Rolled Back in Trump’s First 100 Days,” The New York Times, (May 2, 2017).


[82] Ibid.

[83] “US Notifies UN of Paris Climate Deal Pullout,” BBC, (August 5, 2017).


[84] Fiona Harvey, “Syria Signs Paris Climate Agreement and Leaves US Isolated,” The Guardian, November 7, 2017.


[85] Matt McGrath, “Climate change: COP24 deal to bring Paris pact to life, BBC, (December 15, 2018).


[86] Jim Lyons, “The Rush to Develop Oil and Gas We Don’t Need,” The New York Times, (August 28, 2017).


[87] John Siciliano, “Trump uses dramatic vision of exploding windmills to tout coal's reliability,” Washington Examiner, (August 22, 2018).


[88] Ledyard King, “Do wind farms cause cancer? Some claims Trump made about the industry are just hot air,” USA Today, (April 3, 2019).


[89] “Trump: Climate change scientists have 'political agenda',” BBC, (October 15, 2018).


[90] Ibid.

[91] Phillip Inman and Rob Davies, “The Five Fears Stalking the Global Banking Industry,” The Guardian, (February 10, 2016).


[92] Ibid.

[93] Investopedia, “World’s Top 10 Oil Companies,” (January 7, 2015).


[94] According to the US Census Bureau, there were 114,533 gas stations in the US at the end of 2012.

Paul Ausick, “Why Are There 115,000 (or 150,000) Gas Stations in America?,” 247 Wall St. (May 22, 2014).


Since the US consumes around 18% of world oil [16.5 million bbl./day In 2012: (https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_oil_consumption),

out of world’s oil consumption of 90.5 million bbl./day In 2012: (https://ycharts.com/indicators/world_oil_consumption),

it may be extrapolated that the number of petrol stations in the world is around 636,294 (114,533/0.18).

[95] Based on the 12/31/2018, balances of fixed assets and inventories of General Motors ($92 billion) and Ford Motor Company ($77 billion), and on car sales statistics of the two companies [GM (8.8 million units) and Ford (6 million units)] out of worldwide car sales of 78.7 million], as posted on Statista.


[96] There were in 2012 about 62,500 power plants of all fuel kinds operating around the world.

Brad Plumer, “All of the world’s power plants, in one handy map,” The Washington Post, (December 8, 2012).


[97] Hiroko Tabuchi, “As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants,” The New York Times, (July 1, 2017).


[98] Seth Jacobson, “Cutting UK emissions to net zero would cost £1tn, says Hammond,” The Guardian, (June 6, 2019).


[99] Ian Johnston, “Global warming set to cost the world economy £1.5 trillion by 2030 as it becomes too hot to work,” The Independent, (July 19, 2016).


[100] The GAO study states: “cumulative output losses could exceed $13 trillion” (P. 17). Further, “Households collectively lost about $9.1 trillion ... in part because of the decline in home prices” (P. 21).

Financial Regulatory Reform: Financial Crisis Losses and Potential Impacts of the Dodd-Frank Act

US Government Accountability Office, (Released: February 14, 2013).


[101] Huw Jones, “Banks, insurers must have credible plans for climate change: BoE,” Reuters, (October 15, 2018).


[102] “Australia bank regulator expects climate to be included in risk management,” Reuters, (March 20, 2019).


[103] Press release, “Excludes exploration and production companies from the Government Pension Fund Global,” Ministry of Finance of Norway, (March 8, 2019).


[104] Ibid.