Attack on Saudi oil refinery

Posted February 26th, 2006 in Blog 1 Comment »

Friday’s attack on a major oil processing complex in Saudi Arabia illustrates the problem of oil dependency.  Two thirds of the country’s oil exports are processed through this complex.  Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility.

On this evening’s news, CNN notes that world oil supplies right now are very tight and it would take little to cause shortages, and thus a steep rise in prices.  The crisis in Nigeria coupled with the aborted attack in Saudi Arabia caused the price of crude to rise more than $2 per barrel.  The reporter said that al Qaeda may have figured out that if it wants to attack the western economy, attacking oil supply could be more damaging than another attack inside the US.

The temptation always is to focus on how to make sure we get the oil we need (which means endless conflict, or, in the words of the Bush administration, a “war on terror”), or even more fragmented, how to make sure I get the oil I need to go about my way of life without too much disruption (creating conflict among ourselves).  The sharp rise in prices after Hurricane Katrina caused some people to hoard gas, some local gas stations to exploit the situation by gouging customers, all this amidst reports of mind-boggling record profits for Big Oil. 

So we can be at the mercy of these forces, or we can think about how we live, how western industrial society created this situation, and what radical changes are required in how we live — not to ensure an oil supply, and not just to reduce oil dependency, but to need less oil, less energy, period.

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One Response

  1. Concerned in Seattle

    There are three issues regarding oil – it’s use as an excuse for American aggression abroad, the impact of its price on the world economy, and the impact it’s buring has on our environment. None of these issues can be looked at in isolation, as they are inter-woven and inter-connected by the same issue – that we have allowed this to happen. The collective “we” has all the power it needs to change this dynamic. “They” don’t. If, one by one, each one of us decides to live sustainable lives, then the collective will become sustainable. Whether it’s global warming, “wars” on everything we decide to be afraid of, or finding a way to deal with hunger and poverty – we must think sustainability. No quick fixes. No political solutions. We must energize our natural systemic forces towards health and vitality, each one of us. Looking for an answer? Look inside yourself.