As Western warships prepared for strikes against the Syrian regime, Prince Bandar, head of Saudi intelligence, offered Russian President Vladimir Putin a unified Saudi-Russian strategy on oil prices and production if the Russians back away from supporting Assad, the Telegraph reported Tuesday.
The offer also included a guarantee to protect Russia’s naval base in Syria and its gas contracts throughout the Middle East.
But the offers were coldly received by Putin and quickly turned to threats: Bandar claimed that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia refuses to cooperate on oil.
Putin barked back that Russia’s position on Assad is non-negotiable: “We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” referring to a video of a cannibalizing, allegedly Jihadist rebel.
Middle East turmoil and the oil market volatility it produces threaten global economic recovery, and are particularly worrisome to countries that depend heavily on petroleum imports from the region.
Chris Skrebowski, editor of the Petroleum Review paints a troubling picture of the near future of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) oil production: “Libya is reverting to war lordism. Nigeria is drifting into a bandit state with steady loss of output. And Iraq is going back to the sort of Sunni-Shia civil war we saw in 2006-2007.”
As a result, governments and corporations, particularly in India and East Asia, are turning to safer locations to secure oil sources, including Canada, a bastion of safety compared to MENA:
“You already see some diversification occurring, as Chinese companies have invested in West Africa, East Africa, Venezuela, Brazil and Canada,” Yadullah Hussein wrote Tuesday in the Financial Post.