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Oil and Security: A World beyond Petroleum (Topics in Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality)

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The celebration welcoming the second half of the 21st century on 31 December 2050 was subdued in the Persian Gulf. The major cities of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and others were dark. No fireworks or other signs of jubilation. Even those among them who had diversified their economies by investing in tourism, technology parks, financial institutions, among others, could not really celebrate as global interest in their institutions and recreational offering had declined precipitously. For several decades the oil loading, storage, and pipeline delivery systems as well as all the back area production systems had experienced a steady decline in their use as demand for Persian Gulf oil in particular and fossil fuel in general experienced a steady decline. Now the last scheduled very large crude carrier (VLCC) was departing from the rusty dilapidated loading terminal facility with a load of Saudi crude for the Far East. No further ships were expected notwithstanding the precipitous fall in the price of Persian Gulf petroleum. Other major oil producers such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, and more had also suffered major declines in demand but were at least able to sustain reasonable outputs, this largely because they offered more reliable supply and cheaper transportation to places of demand.

The beginning of the 21st century had experienced increasingly violent attacks by Muslim extremists and terrorists against Western interests and those of other infidels or “non-believers”. These culminated with the attack on the New York World Trade Center which caused not only 3 000+ deaths but also huge losses in assets as well as confidence in the reliability of economic relationships with some Middle Eastern energy suppliers. In turn, it triggered a determined global effort to wean demand from reliance on oil and gas as primary fuels, particularly as the major sources of oil and gas supply were in the volatile Middle East. In addition to concern with supply security, environmental degradations, particularly those resulting from fossil fuel generated greenhouse gases were finally recognized as an imminent danger to the health and ultimate viability of human life on earth.
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