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Sara Vakhshouri | February 27, 2020


More event photos can be found on the AGS Facebook page.

AGS event summary by Caroline Anderson:

In her talk on “Energy Security and the New Geopolitics of Energy,” Dr. Sara Vakhshouri spoke with Dr. Brian Murray on defining energy security and how it affects the national interests of the U.S. and other countries. Dr. Vakhshouri transitioned from a journalist with an interest in energy to one of the leading experts on energy security. One key aspect she highlighted was the distinction between energy security and energy independence; in particular, a country does not need to be energy independent to have energy security so long as they have a diverse energy portfolio that allows them to walk away from different sources of energy without damaging the industry.

Dr. Vakhshouri spoke about how renewable energy sources are changing the dynamics of the energy independence as well as how the changing oil and natural gas market can affect U.S. energy security. She emphasized the growing confidence in the oil market given that prices are determined by algorithms which are less affected by supply disruption. Dr. Vakhshouri pointed out that although supply chain issues are not as much of a threat in such a saturated market, fluxes in demand can have a large effect on price and stocks in the “paper” oil market as is being seen now with the corona virus.

After finishing this topic, the discussion moved to the geopolitics of energy security as Dr. Murray and Dr. Vakhshouri discussed China’s evolving role in the energy market, the significance of the U.S. being a net exporter of oil and the rising role of Russia in the natural gas industry. Dr. Vakhshouri seemed to have an optimistic view of the future of the American energy market even with so many new players; she forsees a partnership between China and the U.S. with America utilizing China’s massive market and China willingly buying the U.S.’s oil exports. On the topic of alternative energy sources and natural gas, Dr. Vakhshouri was interested in the difference between buying oil and natural gas: oil can be a one-time exchange, but natural gas exchange requires a partnership due to the necessity of pipelines to transport the gas. These pipelines are investments by both the buyer and seller that are only profitable after 20-30 years and thus the relationship is more entrenched and difficult to separate. In terms of alternate forms of clean energy, Dr. Vakhshouri was optimistic about the future as many politicians and companies have called for cleaner forms of energy though she is scared for what kind of planet we could leave future generations if action is not taken to mitigate the harm we have already done.