Transport Energy Security The Unseen Risk?
The decline in significance given to energy security in recent years can be associated with increasing trust in the self-balancing security of a global-trading economy. After the events of the first years of the 21st century, that framework now looks more problematic, at least for oil supplies. The underlying level of risk that characterised the oil market of the late 20th century has changed, exacerbated by the increasing inelasticity of demand for oil-based products in the transport sector of the world’s economies, which in its turn reflects the strategic dominance of transport within economies. The prudent course for the international community is to reduce the underlying causes of possible geopolitical constraints by making them more manageable through normal channels. One such constraint that is within every nation’s capability (and self-interest) to reduce is the upward drift in the price inelasticity of domestic oil consumption. This could involve increasing the ability to divert oil used within the domestic economy to transport. Yet for many industrial economies, this option has largely been exhausted and a more radical approach of opening up new energy vectors to supply the transport sector may be needed. Taking preventative action after a security event is generally more straightforward than taking precautionary action to ensure that it never happens. The latter course may only be successful through a coincidence with other interests. The current environment agenda is such a coincident interest with transport fuel security.