Greater vulnerability of consumer countries

Considering the distribution of fossil fuel reserves, we see that the industrialised countries are highly dependent on imports of fossil fuels, especially oil. Most hydrocarbon reserves are concentrated in the Middle East and, over the years, the industrialised countries have become increasingly dependent on oil imports.

This is the case for the USA whose oil imports are rising dramatically: 65% of their oil requirements are currently imported.

Concerning natural gas, since the quantities imported from Canada are expected to decline, the USA must import more and more LNG.

The European Union's energy dependency is particularly high as regards oil (85% of oil imported, without including Norway, 65% including Norway). It is close to 50% for natural gas (57% without Norway, 43% including Norway) and 40% for coal.

In Asia, Japan is totally dependent on imports for its consumption of oil and natural gas, supplied as LNG. China's spectacular economic growth is creating increasing tension on the energy markets, as growth in Chinese demand has created a surge in imports. The dependencies of China and India are tending to increase as their economies improve; these two countries deploy the infrastructures and investments designed to favour energy supplies, primarily oil. In addition, China relies heavily on its coal reserves, which has serious implications for the environment. These constraints could encourage this country to further diversify its energy sources, placing more emphasis on natural gas in particular.

In this context, the dependency on energy imports represents an increasing risk factor for the consumer countries and a factor of instability. Whenever deliveries from an exporting country are stopped or simply reduced, the shock waves are felt throughout the world, often inducing sudden price rises.

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