I was once told that mir, the Russian word for peace, can be loosely translated as "peace - on our terms." This translation went through my mind when reading Russian president Vladimir Putin's description of "energy security" in yesterday's Globe and Mail - yes, the world will have energy security, but it will be on Russia's terms.
Russia's vision of energy security will be based upon the fact that it has over one-quarter of the world's proved reserves of natural gas and meets almost twenty-two percent of the world's demand. By controlling its output of natural gas, Russia will become the world's swing producer of natural gas, just as Saudi Arabia is the world's swing producer of crude oil.
Russia straddles both Europe and Asia, meaning that it can deal with the European Union, China, and India, or it can play one off against another, demanding whatever price it wants. Russia will become a truly global player when it starts shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Canada and the United States later this decade. Natural gas will allow Russia to regain super-power status, something it lost with the fall of the Soviet Union; countries will have to listen to what Russia dictates, as Ukraine and Georgia learned over the past two months.
Energy security begins at home. Reducing energy intensity and developing indigenous energy sources are the only ways that Canada, or any other country for that matter, will be able to achieve energy security.
Published 2 March 2006 - Globe and Mail