EU should not discard military to secure oil, expert says

The EU should stand ready to help the US protect strategic oil-supply routes and facilities in the Middle East against possible terrorist attacks, said an expert from a leading US think-tank.

Simon Henderson, director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that Europe should assess all options, including military, when looking at its oil-supply security in the 21st century.

Speaking at a lunch debate organised by the Transatlantic Institute on 17 April in Brussels, Henderson said that the EU and the US needed to work closer to fend off “possible terrorist attacks on refineries and terminals” and ensure that “supplies continue to be delivered at the price and quantity that is needed”. 

With around 20% of world oil transported through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, the EU and the US have a common interest in keeping supply routes safe, Henderson said. 

“If traffic is disrupted, the rest of the world will look at the US to secure markets,” he said, adding that Europe will have to support it in doing so.

Henderson also said that dialogue with key producer countries in the Middle East should be extended to include aspects apart from energy in order to encourage economic diversification in the region, which is highly dependent on oil revenues from Western nations.

While the EU and the US are both actively seeking to reduce their oil dependency, Middle East countries have a similar interest in diversifying their economies, said Catherine Hunter from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“Diversification is desirable on both sides,” said Hunter, adding that the West should reassure producer countries that demand for oil will be maintained at a reasonable level despite ongoing strategies to reduce dependence.

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