Monday, October 6, 2014

Unleashing the oil weapon against Russia: how to destroy a great empire

The Pythoness of the Oracle of Delphi told to King Croesus that if he were to attack Persia "a great empire will be destroyed." Croesus did just that, but the great empire which fell was not the Persian one, but his own. 

Do you remember the old Soviet Union? Dubbed as "The Evil Empire" by Ronald Reagan in 1983, it disappeared in a puff of smoke in 1991, crushed under a mountain of debts. The origins of the financial collapse of the Soviet Union are rather well known: it was related to the fall of the oil prices which, in 1985, went down from the equivalent of more than 100 (today's) dollars per barrel in 1980 to about 30 (today's) dollars and stayed low for more than a decade. The Soviet Union was relying on oil exports for its economy and, in addition, it was burdened with huge military expenses. It just couldn't take a drop of more than a factor of three in its oil revenues. 

There exists a persistent legend that says that the downfall of the Soviet Union was engineered by a secret agreement of the Western Powers with the Saudi government who agreed to open the spigots of their oil fields in order to bring down oil prices. This is, indeed, nothing more than a legend. Not only we have no proof that such a secret agreement ever existed, but it is not even true that the Saudis played the role attributed to them. In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia, actually, tried hard to avoid the downfall in oil prices by reducing (rather than increasing) its oil output; without much success. (Image on the right from Wikipedia)

It is true, however, that after the first great oil crisis of the 1970s, the world's oil production restarted its growth around 1985.  The reasons for the recovery can't be attributed to the work of a group of conspirators sitting in a smoke filled room. Rather, it was the result of a number of new oil fields starting their production phase, mainly in Alaska and in the North Sea. This was the origin of the drop in oil prices and, indirectly, of the fall of the Soviet Union. (Image on the left from Wikipedia)

Today, Russia's oil production has recovered from the downfall of Soviet times and the Russian economy is highly dependent on oil exports, much like the old USSR was. So, a drop in oil prices could do a lot of damage to Russia. Given the political situation with the Ukraine crisis, there are speculations that the West is trying to bring down Russia by repeating the same trick that seemed to be so successful in bringing down the old "Evil Empire". Indeed, we are seeing oil prices dropping below $90 per barrel after years of stability around $100. Is it a fluctuation or a trend? Hard to say, but it is being interpreted as the unleashing of the "oil weapon" against Russia on the part of Saudi Arabia. 

However, the world of today is not the world of the 1980s. One problem is that Saudi Arabia has shown several times to be able to throttle production down, but never to raise it significantly higher than the present levels; one could even question whether they will be able to maintain them in the future. Then, there is nothing today which could play the role that Alaska and the North Sea fields played in the 1980s. It had been said many times that we would need a "new Saudi Arabia" (or more than one) to offset the decline of the world's oil fields, but we never found it.

Yet, there are good reasons to think that we could see a drop in oil prices in the near future. One factor is the downturn of several of the world's major economies (e.g. Italy). That could lead to a fall of the demand for oil and, consequently, to lower prices (something similar took place with the financial crisis of 2008). Another factor could be the rapidly growing production unconventional oil (largely in the form of "shale oil") is the U.S. This oil is not being exported in large amounts, but it has reduced the US demand of oil in the world's market. Coupling these two factors, we might well see a considerable drop in oil prices in the near future, although hardly a sustained one. So, would that be the "oil weapon" that will bring Russia to its knees? Maybe, but, as with all weapons, there are side effects to consider.

As we said, unconventional oil is playing a major role in maintaining the world's production. The problem is that unconventional oil is often an expensive resource. Then, in the case of shale oil, the decline rate of wells is very fast: the lifetime of a well is of just a few years. So, the shale oil industry needs a continuous influx of new investments to keep producing and it is very sensitive to oil prices. Its recent rise was the result of high prices; low prices might cause its demise. In contrast, conventional oil fields have a lifetime of decades and are relatively immune to short term variations of oil prices. If we see the situation in these terms, we might legitimately ask against whom the oil weapon is aimed. The US unconventional oil industry might well be its first victim.

History, as we all know, never repeats itself, but it does rhyme. King Croesus, at his times, believed the Delphic Oracle when he was told that he could bring down a great empire if he would attack Persia. He didn't realize that he was going to destroy his own empire. Something similar may be in store for us in the coming years: a drop in oil prices might well bring down a great empire. Which one, however, is all to be seen.


  1. Until 70's USSR hardy received any money from oil exports. After that during 1970-1985 it got some hard currency from oil exports but not very much: lion's share of oil was consumed by the soviet&satellits economies leaving very modest amounts for exports to the West. Just for comparison today's Russia earns 10 times more hard currency per capita from oil exports than USSR at the very peak of oil prices around 1980 and infinitely more than USSR around 1970..
    Oil prices did play some role during late 80's in the soviet economy' troubles but they were not THE reason. Most important reasons were internal...

    1. The old USSR had no other way to obtain hard currency than to export crude oil. They also spent some five times more than today in their military apparatus. And were critically dependent on grain imports from the West.

      Wikipedia nicely summarizes the situation here:, stating, for instance that: "In the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet Union relied heavily on various kinds of fuel exports to earn hard currency, and Western partners regarded the Soviet Union as an extremely reliable supplier of oil and natural gas. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union gave domestic priority to gas, coal, and nuclear power in order to free more oil reserves for export. "

    2. I find Wikipedia to be a poor source for any subject regarding foreign relations. People of certain political persuasions have drones working full time on Wikipedia to correct information so it reflects their idea of true. If you are trying to find out how many hydrogen atoms are in a water molecule that is one thing but even there my preference is to use other sources. I try an kill the Wikipedia habit wherever I can. It is pernicious. The other thing that is often done is to make sure that sanitized Wikipedia appears in a google search first. It is getting harder to find alternative sources of information. That sort of thing is unapparent unless you are tuned into what is going on. Once you realize google search algorithms have a 'human' component you will be tuned into results that seem to jump to the top of search lists with an eager relevance.

      How oil caused the Soviet Union to fall definitely falls into the category of an article that has been sanitized to teach approved and true opinion.

      How do you feel about this.

      Ugo Bardi
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Ugo Bardi (born May 23, 1952 in Florence[1]) is a professor in Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence.[2] Married in 1976 to his wife Grazia he is a father of two, Francesco and Donata. Prof. Bardi is a researcher on materials for new energy sources, a contributor for The Oil Drum. He is the president of ASPO Italy, a member of the scientific committee of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) and author of several books, including "The Limits to Growth Revisited".

      "Prof. Bardi is a researcher on materials for new energy sources" You are? That's sweet. Can I have a small nugget of Unobtainium please.

      If Winston Smith were alive and living in Washington DC today he would not be unemployed or spending much time at the Chestnut Tree Café. He would be busy at the Ministry of Truth correcting Wikipedia articles. Some of the information which would be corrected would no doubt be information about himself.

      The Chestnut Tree cafe was almost empty....
      It was the lonely hour of fifteen.
      A tinny music trickled from the telescreens....
      Winston sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty glass....
      Something changed in the music that trickled from the telescreen.
      A cracked and jeering note, a yellow note, came into it.
      And then...a voice was singing:

      Under the spreading chestnut tree
      I sold you and you sold me...

      The tears welled up in Winston's eyes.
      A passing waiter noticed that his glass was empty
      and came back with the gin bottle.

    3. I always verify what I read on Wikipedia. In this case, they did a nice job of summarizing a long study which I found reasonably reliable. I didn't cite the original study because the structure of the site reporting it makes it a little difficult to link to the relevant sections - so I put a link to Wikipedia, supposing that people would verify by themselves, rather than throwing in just blanket criticism.

      About the unobtanium, please we sell it at reasonable prices per gram. Inquire with Andrea Rossi at his E-Cat factory on Venus.

    4. Does Andrea Rossi take Bitcoin? Unobtanium is most appropriately traded in digital currency.

      I should not claim the purity of never using Wikipaedia but when I do the citations at the bottom are my best friend. Here I preferred throwing in blanket criticism.

      Supposing people would verify it themselves might have been a reach on your part. We trust you to do it for us.

    5. I did exactly that. Read my second comment

  2. So, we aim at Russia and hit North Dakota?

    I am having trouble visualizing a scenario where the price of oil falls very far. The European economies are already weak, the US is only so-so, but there are no inexpensive conventional finds, and China, India and the rest of the developing world is soaking up oil as fast the US is finding it in shale.


    1. Friendly fire is a well known concept in military science (actually, neither is)

    2. About a fall of oil prices, I see it as likely, but short lived, just as it was in 2008-2009

    3. Would it be fair to say that the drop in 2008-2009 (from $140-$40) was driven more by fear of a global economic meltdown than it was by reduced demand driven and the recession?

      Without that panic, would the increased demand by the developing world more than counterbalance reduced demand from Europe?

    4. Of course: these oscillations are due to what people call "sentiment". the market works that way. So, a new wave of panic could have the same effect

  3. Thanks Ugo

    There are a contingency of people in the U.S. (mostly male, white, conservatives) who worship Regan like a god and love to credit him for single handedly bringing down "The Evil Empire" by pressuring the Saudis to play ball. The Regan devotees are the authors and promoters of this myth. In addition to empire slaying, they'll also claim that there would be no North slope oil extraction without Regan. They fail to see how the latter myth contradicts the former.

    1. Myths are very stubborn. Another one is that Reagan forced the Soviets to ruin themselves in order to match the increasing US military expenses. It is not true - the Soviet Union didn't significantly increase their military spending before collapsing.

    2. I can also add something by citing David Lynch on Forbes (I am no fan of him, but sometimes he is very right) when he says "...geopolitics are the last refuge of an oil price pundit (trust me, I know)."

    3. And, to support Lynch's statement, you can give a look to a truly bad paper by one of these geopolitics pundits on the purported "unleashing of the oil weapon" at this link "".

  4. Here is Brad Plumer's take. Former WaPost guy, now at The good news is US supply, Libya being more stable, and ISIS not threatening the Iraq oil fields. Enough for supply optimism!

    The fuel efficiency of the American car fleet has actually gotten worse recently -- if you can believe that.

  5. Here is Brad Plumer's take on the top. He was with the WaPost before moving to His take aways are that the new US supply, plus relative stability in Libya and the realization that ISIS would not reach the Iraqi oil fields has spurred confidence in supply. But get this, the average MPG of the American car fleet has already ticked down because we are buying bigger cars on expectation of lower fuel cost. Incredible.

  6. That the author here seems to be unaware of the role neoliberal economic policies played in bringing down the economy of Russia (and every other nation that has tried it) is such a large oversight that it undermines the credibility of this article.

  7. Great comment: so, what brought down the Soviet economy?

    1. That is a different point and question from the point made by Anonymous and cannot be answered in ten words or less or even twenty. Volumes have been written about the subject from different ideological and political perspectives and angles. Facts and bits of truth can be found in each and then could probably be woven together into a truthful and plausible narrative. I don' think a "definitive" history has been written yet regarding what brought down the Soviet economy or the Soviet Union as a whole for that matter. At least I have not come across it.

  8. I would rather consider the high production cost of US shale oil as a regulation mechanism, that prevents oil prices from falling. The shale oil production should fall quickly with oil price, thus reducing the supply and stabilizing the price. It's like a ph - buffer in chemistry.

    Dominik Lenné

  9. "This is, indeed, nothing more than a legend."

    I don't think it is a legend at all, and the graph shows clearly the Saudis production growing starting 1985.

    About this, see for instance below documentary, unfortunately it only exists in French and German to my knowledge, starting around 20 min I think (or 18 from the first oil shock) :
    Or also (English) :

    1. And by the way, around the same time (a bit before), there has also been the transsiberian gas pipeline story :
      "America's Western European allies, however, refused to bow[14] to U.S. pressure[15] to boycott the pipeline,[16][17] insisting that contracts already signed between the Soviets and European companies needed to be honored. This led to several European companies being sanctioned by the U.S. Government.[15][18] Reagan reportedly said "Well, they can have their damned pipeline. But not with American equipment and not with American technology."[19] The efforts by the U.S. pressure to prevent the construction of the pipeline, and its export embargo of supplies for the pipeline (1980–1984) constituted one of the most severe transatlantic crises of the Cold War."

      Do you also consider this a legend, Ugo ?

      Also note the serious dip that oil price take starting 1985 (clearer in money of the day) :

    2. Yves, the point is that the Saudis strongly reduced their production when prices started falling. Which is exactly the opposite than the role that the legend attributes to them.

    3. Ugo, the sequence of the Saudi raising their prod starts in 1985, which has highly accelerated the price drop, quite clear on the barrel price graph.
      And note that, this also led to the other OPEC countries increasing their prod as well, and increasing their declared resource to be able to do so under OPEC rules :
      Plus I'm sure some official documents are now available regarding Reagan admin dealing with the Saudis for them to increase their prod.
      And note that it also "f**cked up US domestic oil extraction industry", and that the stop to this sequence was also due to G Bush (the first) when still with Reagan admin.
      This is not a legend.

    4. And have you looked at the above doc ? "face cachée du pétrole", how about the interview of the key Reagan admin guy (forgot hs name) at the origin of this strategy ? Fully Lying in the interview ? Gorbatchov fully lying in this doc interview as well ?
      Another major point in this doc, more regarding the first oil shock, is Akins clearly stating that the "embargo" was never effective from KSA towards the US.

  10. Hi!, Patrons Of Resource Crisis Et Al:
    Neither side of these offsetting issues can leave the other well enough alone can they? Before this ends then could we experience the fall of both Empires; while in the meantime the US gets the blowback blame for the Russian Bear holding NG off of European markets etc.? Reminds me of the old feuds between the Hatfields and the McCoys. The shame is that the innocents such as children and the elderly get wedged in the middle of such battles as losers too without a voice against these kinds of inhuman mistreatments. Someone please tell me, when it comes to governments these days, can we find any real true blue adults or is it the New Normal/Normalcy Bias for governments act like either children or like the Hatfields and the McCoys? Like children though, the one thing we can all look forward to in regards to governments today, they know how to fight each other until something or someone breaks it up and in the meantime tear things up while the neighbors watch! There's an old time adage that says: "Pride goeth before the fall (of any Empire) !" To co-exist is to co-operate isn't it?

    RUSS SMITH, CA. (One Of Our Broke, Fiat Money States)

  11. Read a book call "Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union" by Peter Schweizer. It pretty well documents the events leading up to the Soviet collapse, as engineered by the Reagan administration, mostly Reagan himself, William Casey, and Cap Weinberger. That collapse did not happen by accident, and a pillar of it was choking off real Soviet capital. The administration built a strong relationship with the Saudi's, convincing them to increase oil production to drive prices down, thereby ruining the Soviet economy. That was just one of MANY things the Reagan administration hit the Soviets with. Read it... its a good read. I actually ALMOST started feeling bad for the Soviets by the end of the book. Too bad we don't have a freedom-loving, strategic-minded Reagan-like leader today at the helm of the country. Instead we have a Marxist moron. The Left spent decades arguing that the Soviet monster could not be defeated and the only option was appeasement. Reagan came in with the message it could be done and he was going to do it, and by the time he left office, the USSR was well past the no-return point of collapse. Now the Left has spent the last several decades trying to rewrite history, in essence that a collapse was inevitable and that it just happened while Reagan was in office. Again, read "Victory", don't go by what MSNBC and the Democratic Party have to say. If they really want to get involved with history and "the truth", how about starting with the events before, during and after the Benghazi attack of our embassy.

    1. I don't know whether the Western political left or political right and their various stellar academics have been trying to rewrite history recently or not regarding what caused the fall of the Soviet Union. They certainly had been doing it already for a very long time regarding nearly all other major world events including World War I, World War II and also other various more recent wars as well as all other major economic and political events from China to South America to Africa. So it would be very surprising if they had not continued doing so.

      As far as the wonderful freedom-loving and "strategic minded" Reagan (helped along by his wife's considerable astrological skills and deep knowledge and his own general demonstrated great expertise in even just basic American history let alone any other history) I think there may be just a few (including on the American right) who might disagree entirely about his wonderful intellectual and other merits.

      But I would agree that it is unlikely that the Saudis having increased oil production (not necessarily consistently and throughout the entire process of the U.S. and its allies trying to undermine the USSR, but at different key strategic moments and with variability over time) is nothing more than a mere legend. One would need to reconstruct the entire period as well as the price of oil moment by moment to be fully certain. Nor do I think it is is any legend (just in case anyone may think that too) that the Vatican and the Polish Pope lent more than a small helping hand in Poland, or that Solidarnocs also was not brought on board effectively to play its own part at the right moments.

      And MANY other actors also clearly were brought on board in timely ways in what was very obviously a multi-pronged and multi-actor well coordinated (and adaptable and also practically adapted over time several times) strategy. Not that the Soviet leadership did not play its own helpful part in causing its own downfall nor that there also may not have been some internal recruits and fifth columns. And there are also a number of histories written by Russians (many of them senior political insiders during those times) which are well worth reading and comparing and contrasting with some of the European and American histories.

      In any case it is not the least bit surprising and hardly a big secret that the Reagan Administration did everything it could to try to bring down the Soviet Union since every other American administration since 1917 had been trying to do the same thing. Except that conditions were not yet as ripe and propitious.

      Looking back with the benefit of slightly longer-term hindsight it also might be useful to ask whether the U.S.- run Unipolar world that later resulted with its ubiquitous globalized neoliberal capitalism and its financial and monetary system now mostly out of control following the fall of the U.S.S.R. (but not of China) has been so wonderful and so much better than what things were like during the so called "cold war" days? Do we have a lot less conflict, wars, death and destruction and mayhem now than we had then? Is the biosphere in great health and is climate change now on the wane now that the evil U.S.S.R. and its terrible environmental record is gone? (or perhaps we are in the shape we are in because the job was not finished and Russia is still around?) Are people everywhere so much more "free" and prosperous and happy? But I admit these are not the central questions here. The Soviet Union is gone the West emerged triumphant (and
      also just a tad triumphalist, but history is not over yet, (contrary to the pet beliefs of the End of History types) and we now await the further development of the current chapter or chapters. (if more than the current one winding up is very likely to occur at all)

    2. Too bad that James Akins died a few years ago, he for sure could have shed some light on some key aspects of "oil history" and US/Saudis relationship in particular, also quite strange he is very rarely mentioned in "peak oil" discussions.

      Reagan admin was not Reagan alone, and that they dealt with the Saudis for them to increase their prod in 1985 isn't a legend at all.
      As it is not a legend that they put a tech export embargo on the USSR around the same time, in order to block/delay the construction of the transsiberian gas pipeline.

      It is also a fact that the first oil shock was much more a direct consequence of US 1970 peak, than the so called "Arab embargo", which was never effective from KSA towards the US,(and US Army in Vietnam in particular), by the way.

      The so called "embargo" (or let's say first oil shock price rise) was clearly a win win situation between "big oil" and OPEC.
      The barrel price rise was necessary to start Alaska, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico after US peak, and the price rise was in fact pushed/wished for by US diplomacy (and Akins in particular), before the "embargo".

  12. Traducción al español 1
    ¿Te acuerdas de la vieja Unión Soviética? Bautizado como "El Imperio del Mal" por Ronald Reagan en 1983, desapareció en una nube de humo en el año 1991, aplastada bajo una montaña de deudas. Los orígenes del colapso financiero de la Unión Soviética son bastante bien conocidos: se relaciona con la caída de los precios del petróleo que, en 1985, descendió del equivalente de más de 100 dólares (de hoy) por barril en 1980 a alrededor de 30 dólares (de hoy) y se mantuvieron bajos durante más de una década. La Unión Soviética se basaba en las exportaciones de petróleo de su economía y, además, tenía la carga de enormes gastos militares. Es sólo que no podía afrontar una caída de más de un factor de tres en sus ingresos petroleros.

    Existe una persistente leyenda que dice que la caída de la Unión Soviética fue diseñada por un acuerdo secreto de las potencias occidentales con el gobierno saudí que acordó abrir los grifos de sus campos de petróleo con el fin de bajar los precios del petróleo. Esto es, de hecho, no es más que una leyenda. No sólo no tenemos ninguna prueba de que un acuerdo secreto de este tipo alguna vez existió, pero no es ni siquiera cierto que los saudíes jugaron el papel que se les atribuye. En la década de 1980, Arabia Saudita, en realidad, se esforzó por evitar la caída en los precios del petróleo mediante la reducción (en lugar de aumentar) su producción de petróleo; sin mucho éxito. (Imagen de la derecha de Wikipedia)

    Es cierto, sin embargo, que después de la primera gran crisis del petróleo de la década de 1970, la producción mundial de petróleo reinicia su crecimiento alrededor de 1985. Las razones de la recuperación no se pueden atribuir a la labor de un grupo de conspiradores que se sientan en una habitación llena de humo. Más bien, fue el resultado de una serie de nuevos yacimientos de petróleo a partir de su fase de producción, principalmente en Alaska y en el Mar del Norte. Este fue el origen de la caída de los precios del petróleo y, de forma indirecta, de la caída de la Unión Soviética. (Imagen en la fromWikipedia izquierda)

    Hoy en día, la producción de petróleo de Rusia se ha recuperado de la caída de la época soviética y la economía rusa es muy dependiente de las exportaciones de petróleo, al igual que la antigua URSS era. Por lo tanto, una caída en los precios del petróleo podría hacer mucho daño a Rusia. Dada la situación política con la crisis de Ucrania, hay especulaciones de que Occidente está tratando de derribar Rusia repitiendo el mismo truco que parecíó ser tan exitoso en acabar con la edad del "Imperio del Mal". De hecho, estamos viendo que los precios (Vínculo) del petróleo caen por debajo de 90 dólares por barril, luego de años de estabilidad en torno a $ 100. ¿Es una fluctuación o una tendencia? Es difícil de decir, pero se interpreta como el desencadenamiento del "arma petrolera" contra Rusia (Vínculo) por parte de Arabia Saudita.

  13. Traducción al español 2
    Sin embargo, el mundo de hoy no es el mundo de la década de 1980. Un problema es que Arabia Saudita ha demostrado varias veces ser capaz de poder estrangular la producción hacia abajo, pero nunca de elevarla significativamente por encima de los niveles actuales; Incluso podría cuestionarse si serán capaces de mantenerlas (Vínculo) en el futuro. Entonces, no hay nada hoy que podría desempeñar el papel que Alaska y los yacimientos del Mar del Norte jugaron en la década de 1980. Se ha dicho muchas veces que íbamos a necesitar una "nueva Arabia Saudita" (o más de uno) para compensar la caída de los campos de petróleo del mundo, pero nunca se ha encontrado. (Vínculo)

    Sin embargo, hay buenas razones para pensar que podríamos ver una caída en los precios del petróleo en un futuro próximo. Un factor es la recesión de varias de las principales economías del mundo (por ejemplo, Italia) (Vínculo). Eso podría llevar a una caída de la demanda de petróleo y, en consecuencia, a reducir los precios (algo similar ocurrió con la crisis financiera de 2008). Otro factor podría ser el rápido crecimiento de la producción de petróleo no convencional (en gran parte en forma de "shale oil") en los EE.UU. Este petróleo no se exporta en grandes cantidades, pero se ha reducido la demanda estadounidense de petróleo en el mercado mundial. Debido al acoplamiento de estos dos factores, podríamos ver una caída considerable de los precios del petróleo en un futuro próximo, a pesar de que apenas un uno sostenido. Por lo tanto ¿ Podría ser el "arma petrolera" que traerá a Rusia de rodillas? Tal vez, pero, como ocurre con todas las armas, hay efectos secundarios a tener en cuenta.

    Como hemos dicho, el petróleo no convencional está jugando un papel importante en el mantenimiento de la producción mundial. El problema es que el petróleo no convencional es a menudo un recurso caro. Luego, en el caso del petróleo de esquisto, la tasa de declinación de los pozos es muy rápido (Vínculo): el tiempo de vida de un pozo es de unos pocos años. Así, la industria del petróleo de esquisto necesita una afluencia continua de nuevas inversiones para seguir produciendo y es muy sensible a los precios del petróleo. El reciente aumento de su producción fue el resultado de los altos precios; precios bajos podrían causar su desaparición. Por el contrario, los yacimientos de petróleo convencionales tienen una vida de décadas y son relativamente inmunes a las variaciones a corto plazo de los precios del petróleo. Si vemos la situación en estos términos, podríamos preguntar legítimamente contra quien el arma del petróleo está dirigida. La industria del petróleo no convencional de Estados Unidos bien podría ser su primera víctima.

    La historia, como todos sabemos, nunca se repite, pero sí misma. El Rey Creso, en su época, creía que cuando el Oráculo de Delfos le dijo que podía derribar un gran imperio si iba a atacar Persia, el Oráculo se refería al Imperio Persa y no al suyo, cuando en realidad era lo contrario. Algo similar puede estar en el almacén para nosotros en los próximos años: una caída en los precios del petróleo bien podría derribar un gran imperio. ¿Cuál?, sin embargo, es todo lo que está por verse.

  14. There exists a persistent legend that says that the downfall of the Soviet Union was engineered by a secret agreement of the Western Powers with the Saudi government who agreed to open the spigots of their oil fields in order to bring down oil prices. This is, indeed, nothing more than a legend. Not only we have no proof that such a secret agreement ever existed, but it is not even true that the Saudis played the role attributed to them.


    March 1977: CIA Intel Memo: The Impending Soviet Oil Crisis (ER 77-10147):

    Intelligence Memorandum titled "The Impending Soviet Oil Crisis (ER 77-10147)," was issued in March 1977 by the Office of Economic Research and classified "Secret" until its public release in January 2001 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

    The Memorandum predicts an impending peak in Soviet oil production "not later than the early 1980s" (the actual peak occurred in 1987 at 12.6 million barrels per day, following a preliminary peak in 1983 of 12.5 Mb/d). "During the next decade," the unnamed authors of the document conclude, "the USSR may well find itself not only unable to supply oil to Eastern Europe and the West on the present scale, but also having to compete for OPEC oil for its own use." The Memorandum predicts that the oil peak will have important economic impacts: "When oil production stops growing, and perhaps even before, profound repercussions will be felt on the domestic economy of the USSR and on its international economic relations."

    -- Military Gospel: Scarcity as source of conflict: Central Intelligence Agency.



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)