Oil has been fuel and lubricant for international conflict ever since the development of the internal combustion engine, but recent technological developments have given oil an even greater geopolitical significance. For the past four decades, regimes from the Persian Gulf to Russia to Venezuela have used oil wealth to advance national and ideological agendas and to exert influence over the policies of industrialized nations, especially the United States. The emergence of Canadian Tar Sands as a major oil source and the fracking boom across North America, however, have upended traditional thinking about who produces oil, who imports it, and the political leverage that oil wealth can provide. Plentiful supplies and plummeting prices are a godsend for consumers, but a potential nightmare for societies dependent on oil revenue, with potential consequences for the global economy and balance of power that are still being calculated.
Joining us for this edition of the Round Table are FPRI Senior Fellows Frank R. Gunter and Wojtek Wolfe, as well as Steven Kopits, Managing Director of Princeton Energy Advisors.
Frank R. Gunter is a Professor of Economics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow in FPRI’s Program on the Middle East. After receiving his doctorate in Political Economy from John Hopkins University in 1985, he joined Lehigh where he won three major and multiple minor awards for excellence in teaching Principles of Economics, Economic Development, the Political Economy of China, and the Political Economy of Iraq. Frank’s primary area of research is economic development in conflict and post-conflict states, though he also focuses on the economics of corruption, capital flight, and microfinance. His most recent book, The Political-Economy of Iraq: Restoring Balance in a Post-Conflict Society (Edward Elgar Publishing, May 2013), on post-2003 Iraq is based on his 25-months of work as the Senior Civilian Economics Advisor for Multi-National Corps to the U.S. government in Baghdad. He has also published multiple studies on economic development in Iraq, China, Colombia and Latvia. Having served 35 years on active and reserve duty, Frank retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in 2008.
Steven Kopits is Managing Director of Princeton Energy Advisors. Previously, he managed the New York office of Douglas-Westwood, where he led projects related to oil field services and technologies. He has also been an investment banker with Dahlman Rose & Co., focusing on public and private capital raising for maritime and oil field technology companies, and established and headed the private equity advisory service for Deloitte & Touche in Central Europe. He holds an undergraduate degree from Haverford College, an MBA in Finance and Accounting and a Masters specializing in International Economics from Columbia University. In addition to testifying before Congress and speaking on oil and the economy, Steven writes frequently on energy topics for a number of publications, including Foreign Policy, Oil & Gas Journal, and World Oil, as well as PEA’s “Mostly Energy Blog.”
Wojtek Wolfe is a Senior Fellow with FPRI’s Program on National Security, and an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers-Camden University. His current research programs focus on multiple areas including US foreign policy, US-China relations, and energy security issues. He is the author of Winning the War of Words: Selling the War on Terror from Afghanistan to Iraq. His teaching interests include US foreign policy, security studies, national security policy issues, and US China affairs. Wolfe received a B.A. from Binghamton University, and an M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Colorado-Boulder.