first_imgShareDavid [email protected] [email protected] Institute expert: Assumptions about oil’s influence on politics in the Middle East should be reversedHOUSTON – (July 7, 2016) – Assumptions about oil’s influence on politics in the Middle East should be reversed, according to a new article from an expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Instead of oil buttressing autocracy, the article argues that autocracy among oil exporters buttresses oil by encouraging consumption.Credit: shutterstock.com/Rice University“Energy and the State in the Middle East” was authored by Jim Krane, the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow for Energy Studies at the Baker Institute. It appears in the new book “Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the E.U. and the U.S.: A Reader,” which was co-edited by Raphael Heffron and Gavin Little and published by Edinburgh University Press.“When it comes to energy, the Middle East is best-known as a supplier of commodities to the importing world,” Krane wrote. “Collectively, the region harbors around half of the world’s conventional reserves of oil and natural gas. But recently the countries of the Middle East and North Africa have become recognized as important centers of energy demand.”The MENA region has maintained nearly 6 percent yearly growth in consumption over the four decades since 1973, a much faster rate of growth than the 2 percent average for the world as a whole, according to Krane. His paper examines drivers behind the MENA region’s growing consumption of oil and gas, in particular the government policies that have contributed to the energy intensity of the region.“I argue that hydrocarbon demand is an outgrowth of the pervasive and structural role of oil and gas in the formation of many of these states, which has imposed deep influences on their institutional design and outcomes,” Krane wrote.Among some of the larger oil exporters, the effect of hydrocarbons dates to their origins as sovereign independent states, Krane said. Oil helped finance their emergence from colonial rule and, at times, guided the placement of national borders to encompass known oilfields. “The business of exporting hydrocarbons has also contributed to the character of governance in the Middle East, helping to maintain autocratic regimes in most of these otherwise diverse states,” Krane wrote. “Finally, in many MENA countries, government policies that made available low-priced fuel and electricity contributed to an ‘entitlement mentality’ among citizens toward cheap energy. In turn, these attitudes have encouraged energy-intense habits, influencing the design of the built environment and guiding patterns of human settlement.”In short, the presence of oil and gas has commanded a huge role in sustaining and organizing Middle Eastern states and societies and promoting their integration into the global economy, Krane said. These generalizations are strongest in the region’s energy-exporting countries but remain apparent in most of the Arab Middle East, including among net importers, he added.“Put another way, the old ‘oil influences politics’ adage ought to be flipped,” Krane concluded. “In the Gulf, it is politics that influences oil. Basically regimes stay in power by underpricing and encouraging consumption of oil.”-30-For more information, to schedule an interview with Krane or to receive a copy of the article, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at [email protected] or 713-348-6775.Related materials:“Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the E.U. and the U.S.: A Reader”: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-delivering-energy-law-and-policy-in-the-eu-and-the-us.htmlKrane bio: http://bakerinstitute.org/experts/jim-kraneKrane on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jimkrane @jimkraneFollow the Baker Institute via Twitter @BakerInstitute.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top five university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog. AddThislast_img

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