The United States is shaping its diplomatic policy to achieve its objectives for U.S. energy security amid the vast changes taking place in energy worldwide, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a speech Thursday at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
In the coming weeks, policy guidance will be sent to U.S. embassies worldwide, asking them to elevate their reporting on energy issues and to seek out private sector energy partners. While the United States has conducted energy-related diplomacy in the past, the U.S. State Department didn't have a team of experts focused on leading and shaping the global energy future.
Energy matters to foreign policy because of its key role in geopolitics, and the wealth and power it brings presents a source of conflict and cooperation, Clinton said. The United States has an interest in helping resolve global disputes to keep energy supplies and markets stable, and ensuring the United States' access to energy remains secure, affordable, reliable and sustainable.
"We have an interest in supporting leaders who invest their energy wealth back into their economies instead of hoarding it for themselves," Clinton commented, adding that energy security has been at the heart of diplomacy efforts conducted by the Obama administration.
While the challenges in the global hunt for new, better energy resources is not new, the rapid growth in energy demand seen in developing countries as their economies grow, and the surge in natural gas supply, present a moment of profound change, Clinton said.
The fact that oil and gas companies are drilling in areas such as the Arctic or South China Sea also raise questions and create tension over who will benefit from this exploration. A 'clear code of conduct' is needed to address the tensions rising in areas such as the South China Sea, where potentially significant quantities of oil and gas lie right next door to countries with fast growing energy needs, Clinton said.
The Arctic, which has growing opportunities for oil and gas drilling and maritime routes thanks to melting ice caps, also will require a set of rules to avoid future conflict and protect the Arctic's fragile ecosystem, Clinton said. To help promote competition and prevent monopolies in the Arctic, the United States is participating in the Arctic Council.
The United States also reached out to major oil producers to increase production as an alternative source for countries that had been buying Iranian oil, and worked with Iraq to improve their investment plans and increase its oil production.
Additionally, the United States has sought to agreements for areas with potential oil and gas resources and inexact boundaries, including the United States and Mexico for the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. diplomats worldwide are also fighting on behalf of American businesses and workers to level the playing field as U.S. companies seek a part in global energy project development, Clinton said.
The demand for energy guarantees that more developing countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mozambique will become oil exporters. Not long ago, these countries were embroiled in deadly civil conflicts, Clinton noted. Historically, the discovery of energy resources in these countries have resulted in the resource curse, in which countries with great energy resources were plagued by civil war or declaring war on other nations.
"The resources have not been the problem, it's been the greed," Clinton said.
To help build block of good governance in these countries, the United States' has promoted of transparency of finances in the oil, gas and mining industries in these countries, and has helped these countries to adopt strong environmental protection laws.
The United States' adoption of the Cardin-Lugar amendment, which requires oil, gas and other extractive industries to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments for projects worldwide, is also a sign of the United States' efforts to fight against corruption.
The United States has no choice but to be involved as countries that used to depend on others for energy become producers and how these changes will impact the political climate unfold.
"The prosperity and security of our nation hangs in the balance," Clinton said.
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